Levant Summer

Ayyam Gallery prepares for a summer of art with a 'best of' showcase or Levant art

We’ve hit that time of the year again. Soon, the solo shows will grind to a halt, the big parties will go by the wayside and Art Dubai will be but a distant (cooler) memory. But it’s not all bad. Summer shows often provide a good overview of a gallery, like an exhaustive ‘Best of’, and Ayyam Gallery’s attempt does just that.

Continuing well into the summer months, Ayyam rolls out the usual bunch – Safwan Dahoul, with his subtle evocations of woman, Khaled Takreti (albeit some brash new smaller works by the Syrian artist) and Moustafa Fathi’s aboriginal-esque swarming creations. But what sets this apart from most summer shows is just how wide the people at Ayyam have cast their nets; this is every single artist on its roster, and so offers one of the most comprehensive overviews of Syria’s contemporary art scene you could hope for.

We also like the fact that Ayyam has included some new talent in there. Kais Salman (pictured) features, with his turbulent reflections of modern life. Salman appears alongside a number of artists who have been involved with Ayyam’s Shabbab programme for incubating and promoting new talent. The young Damascus-based artist attracted our attention for his series examining the fashion world, where he contorted and disturbed models, stuck them in garters and gave the whole scene a rather sickly appearance. Sickly, yet oddly appealing: there is something primitive about Salman’s style, he can render his subjects in a wholly savage and affronting way.

A number of artists from the Shabbab Uprising show of new talent also appear here, including Mouteea Murad’s complex play of colours, part-constructivist, part-neon experimentation that bounce off the gallery’s walls.

As far as summer shows go, this is strong and offers an insight into what’s been happening with this gallery in the past year. Recommended.

Ayyam Gallery (04 323 6242) Until September 10.

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