Surprisingly an interesting papers that I read every morning is one that gets delivered free every morning at my doorstep, and, is sometimes, relegated to the dustbin even without having been read!
I am talking about 7 Days.
Though my mom-in-law insists that its the more interesting paper than my Gulf News and I think if you are looking for "interesting news" that might just be the paper :-) However, on this one day, I happened to be flipping through it over breakfast and came across a write-up on an art exhibition in Pro Art gallery of artists across the Arabic world - from Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco etc.. and the couple of images that were displayed, caught my fancy, so decided that I would go see it. It helped that I had a friend visiting who is an artist, and all it needed was the two of us to ensure that we did end up going!
Hunting for the new Sunset Mall (where the gallery is housed) is another story, but when we did find it, I was really glad that we had made the effort! I do buy Indian art and this was so different from the forms or abstract art that one sees from the sub-continent.
I was fascinated by the ink on paper work of Asal Fallah. A young Iranian artist, she specialises in black pen on cardboard and has this fascinating series called My World, pieces from which were on display. She's obviously a prolific and well known painter in his part of the world, cos when I googled her, Google turned in responses from varied art galleries. The fine detailing and the intricacy of the work plus my weakness for black and white, made it irresistible. And she wasn't that outrageously priced I think. Unfortunately the one I wanted to buy was sold out.
The other artist whom I found interesting was Abdallah Akar from Tunisia, whose career has been focussed on the script and who now teaches at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. Very interesting mix of calligraphy superimposed on a painted background. I am fascinated by Arabic calligraphy - I think the script is beautiful. So was very tempted to buy. Unfortunately, the price tag was in the range of Dhs 110,000-120000. And I am still not sure how to figure whether I should be paying an "x" amount for a artist in this region cos I am not really familiar with them. But I loved the paintings!
But the thing that fascinated me most were two very interesting sculptures by Radomir Barta and Peter Matters, just for the sheer ingenuity & creativity!
Radomir Barta, I understand, is a well known sculptor, designer and art blacksmith who has also been entrusted with the ask of designing three 15 m high Arabian Oryxes for the Pearl project in Qatar. The use of metal with fibre glass is fascinating - a mix between elegant flowing lines and something just out of a science fiction. The horse was fascinating and outrageously priced :-)
and the eagle was intriguing for its form and the intricate detailing and the material used. I would have loved to buy either of them , but when you don't know who or what you are buying, forking out US $ 100,000 is an impossible call!
And while I mention it last, the entrance of the gallery was guarded by a fierce lion, the work of a Peter Matter - oops I am not sure if I got his last name right. Very interesting!
But the pièce de résistance of the show for me was a Morroccon artist Lalla Essaydi. The art on display was photographic, part of a series labelled "Night of Henna". It was fascinating cos it combined the art of calligraphy, which in Islam is banned for women or is essentially a man's art form used essentially to write works from the Quran, with henna patterns which are traditionally a women's domain! She uses variations in the size, shape, strength of henna patterns to create and define shapes.
While these works are interesting, googling Lalla threw up some really interesting works, where she has modified photographs of women taken in her anscestral home with personal musings in Arabic calligraphy executed in henna.. they're beautiful!. I would love to own one of these if I could find one!
The gallery has sent me an invite for an exhibition on Street Art Legends - am definately going to be seeing it!