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Archive for the ‘Middle Eastern’ Category

Important ArtInsight conference on Middle Eastern art market in London – event alert

Posted by artradar on October 6, 2010


MIDDLE EAST CONTEMPORARY ART LONDON CONFERENCES

ArtInsight, the events partner of leading art market research firm, ArtTactic, has organised what we think looks to be a very important conference for early October in London. State of the Art – Middle East [The Future of the Middle East Contemporary Art Market] will focus on trends and opportunities in the Middle Eastern contemporary art scene.

Artwork by Houria Niati. Image courtesy of Janet Rady Fine Art.

Artwork by Houria Niati. Image courtesy of Janet Rady Fine Art.

As detailed in the latest press release from ArtInsight, State of the Art – Middle East will include talks and in-depth panel discussions with leading figures from all facets of the Middle Eastern art world, including curators, gallerists, consultants, museum professionals, artists, patrons/collectors, auction house specialists and art market experts. With this event, ArtInsight hopes to provide an comprehensive insider’s perspective of both market and artistic trends in the Middle East today, and into the future.

Key issues and topics to be explored and debated at State of the Art – Middle East will include:

  • The impact of substantial museum building plans and activities throughout the region
  • Collector opportunities: The effect of the rapid and growing visibility of Middle Eastern artists across the international art scene and art market
  • The significance of the roles of auction houses, art fairs and galleries, in the development of the region’s art market

Leading speakers listed are:

  • Lulu Al-Sabah: Founding Partner, JAMM-Art
  • Alia Al-Senussi: Collector, Curator and Advisor
  • Bashar Al-Shroogi: Director, Cuadro Fine Art Gallery (Dubai)
  • Maryam Homayoun Eisler: Leading Patron/Collector and Contributing Editor
  • John Martin: Co-founder and former Fair Director, Art Dubai
  • Ahmed Mater: Artist
  • Jessica Morgan: Curator, Contemporary Art, Tate Modern
  • Anders Petterson: Founder and Managing Director, ArtTactic
  • Dr Venetia Porter: Curator, Islamic and Contemporary Middle East, The British Museum
  • Janet Rady: Director, Janet Rady Fine Art
  • Stephen Stapleton: Director, Edge of Arabia
  • Steve Sabella: Artist
  • Roxane Zand: Director, Middle East & Gulf Region, Sotheby’s
  • Conference Moderator Jeffrey Boloten: Co-founder and Managing Director, ArtInsight

State of the Art – Middle East [The Future of the Middle East Contemporary Art Market] will take place on Friday 8 October this year and runs from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Asia House in London. The £195 conference fee includes a Halal lunch and there is a student discount available. For bookings, visit www.artinsight.eventbrite.com.

MS/KN

Related Topics: Middle Eastern artistspromoting art, art market

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Posted in Advisors, Asia expands, Business of art, Collectors, Conference, Critic, Curators, Directors, Events, Gallerists/dealers, Globalization of art, London, Middle Eastern, Professionals, Resources, Scholars, Trends, UK, Venues, Writers | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sheikh Sultan opens private collection to public putting Sharjah on the UAE art map

Posted by artradar on August 18, 2010


PRIVATE COLLECTIONS PUBLIC GALLERIES SHARJAH

In Arabic, the word “barjeel”, from which the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, takes its name, means “wind tower”. For collector and owner Sheikh Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi, the euphemism does very little to hide his vision – that of an art space where ideas, like air, circulate freely and create a dynamic where art can breathe.

Sheikh Sultan, Barjeel Art Foundation

Sheikh Sultan, Barjeel Art Foundation

Housing close to four-hundred and eighty works of art from the Arab world or by Arab artists living elsewhere, the Barjeel Art Foundation’s collection is originally the collection of Sheikh Sultan. In an interview with The National Daily Newspaper in Abu Dhabi earlier this month, Sheikh Sultan said that,

Artists are the conscience of society. It is essential for their work to be seen and appreciated.

Another article on Real Estate Channel, recounts Professor Alma Kadragic’s VIP tour of the gallery space led by the Sheikh himself. Kadragic says,

Many people have visited the gallery over the first five months since it opened, and Sheikh Sultan has personally guided VIPs and others through the collection. The day I visited with a friend, we were joined by two other women, and Sheikh Sultan treated us to descriptions of the works on display and even opened locked doors to show some others kept out of sight in storerooms.

The first exhibition at the Barjeel Art Foundation is called “Peripheral Vision” and features contemporary work made later than 2007 by Arab artists. The show is on until the end of August this year, after which new selections from the Sheikh’s collection will be mounted for show. The foundation is currently not selling any of the works. The premise of the foundation is summed up by Sheikh Sultan:

Layan Shawabkeh, 'Ladies of Gaza', acrylic on canvas.

Layan Shawabkeh, 'Ladies of Gaza', acrylic on canvas.

We want to show how art of the Arab world is nuanced and in a constant state of transformation and renewal. Our mission is to expose different aspects of social, political and geographical landscapes that may be obstructed and out of focus.The works can however be borrowed for exhibition locally or internationally by institutions that will pay for transportation and insurance.

The objective behind the Barjeel Art Foundation is, in Sheikh Sultan’s words,

A foremost goal of Barjeel has been to give the artworks in the collection greater public exposure; making the space accessible for people to come and view a selection of art in rotating exhibitions seemed to be the ideal starting point.

The collection houses some masterpieces of Arab art. Considered a national treasure, artist Abdul Qader Al Rais’s works are so important that they are only handled by the Ministry of Culture of Sharjah, the Sheikh being an exception.

The gallery is not averse to showing political art, like that of Layan Shawabkeh, a Palestinian artist who died in 2009 at the age of 23. In a work called Ladies of Gaza, Shawabkeh takes inspiration from many of Picasso’s works that deal with women and post World War II trauma.

The Barjeel Art Foundation comes at a time when governments world over are cutting funds for art institutions and the market is relying on trusted modern, rather than contemporary artists for returns. Additionally, the art world of the UAE is fragmented, with only a few galleries in Abu Dhabi where the Louvre and the Guggenheim have yet to be built. Dubai seems to be at the forefront of cultural and financial investment in art although Arab art altogether has a long way to go.

AM/KN

Related Topics: Middle Eastern artists, collectorsgallery showsnon-profit

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Posted in Art spaces, Business of art, Collector nationality, Collectors, Gallery shows, Middle Eastern, Nonprofit, Oil, Painting, Palestinian, Promoting art, Sharjah, UAE | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sotheby’s to hold first ever international auction house sale of calligraphy in Doha

Posted by artradar on July 28, 2010


ART MARKET ART AUCTIONS CALLIGRAPHY DOHA

Sotheby’s London recently announced it will hold the first ever international auction house sale dedicated solely to calligraphy in Doha, Qatar, at The Ritz-Carlton Doha hotel, on 15 December. The groundbreaking calligraphy auction Hurouf: The Art of the World will showcase various works ranging from very early Islamic calligraphies to a mix of modern and contemporary Arabic, Farsi and Ottoman Turkish works.

Highlights of the forthcoming auction will travel through the Gulf Region prior to sale, one of which being Ali Omar Ermes’ The Fourth Ode which has an estimated price ranging from USD250,000 to USD350,000.

Ali Omar Ermes's 'The Fourth Ode' (acrylic and ink on paper).
Ali Omar Ermes’s ‘The Fourth Ode’ (acrylic and ink on paper).

Calligraphy is an art form that has influenced the Doha art scene for many years, and Sotheby’s believes this sale represents the region’s past and present talents. Says Roberta Louckx, Sotheby’s Executive Vice President and Head of Sotheby’s in Qatar, in a the press release announcing the sale:

We are delighted to return to Doha later this year with an inaugural auction devoted to ‘calligraphy’, a theme that has inspired and informed the art of this rich and diverse culture throughout the ages – from the production of the first Kufic Qur’ans to the modern and contemporary artworks of Farhad Moshiri. Sotheby’s is strongly committed to the region, and we are extremely excited to present for sale, in Qatar, the creative endeavours of some of the region’s most talented artists, past and present.

According to the press release, the forthcoming calligraphy sale is built on the success of last year’s Doha sales. After opening an office in Doha in 2008, Sotheby’s held maiden sales in March last year during which an Indian carpet made of pearls and gems fetched USD5.5 million, although the Bloomberg article which reported on this sale also mentioned that the prices of the auctions were disappointing in general. As Dalya Islam, Director of Sotheby’s Middle East Arab & Iranian Art Department, states in the press release,

Last year at our Doha sales Sotheby’s achieved solid success for works by highly sought-after Arab artists such as Chafic Abboud, Nabil Nahas, Ayman Baalbaki, Yousef Ahmad and Ali Hassan. In order to build on this, we have decided to devote a sale to works of significant interest to the region, focusing on calligraphy. The Arabic script has stimulated artists for more than a millennium, and is still a highly regarded and revered art form that reflects the rich history of the region. The auction will emphasise the enduring legacy of Islamic art by tracing the development of calligraphy, with a focus on its contemporary manifestation.

CBKM/KN

Related Topics:  market watch – auctions, calligraphy, Middle Eastern artists

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Posted in Artist Nationality, Auctions, Business of art, Calligraphy, Market watch, Middle Eastern, Qatar, Styles, Words | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Xu Zhen takes on Middle Eastern identities and cultures as the new artists’ collective alias Madeln at the Ikon Gallery, UK

Posted by artradar on June 16, 2010


MADEIN ARTIST COLLECTIVE CHINESE ART UK GALLERY SHOW

Seeing One’s Own Eyes is the first European exhibition by MadeIn, a new artists’ collective founded in 2009 in Shanghai by Xu Zhen (b. 1977, Shanghai), often heralded as one of the most important and renowned conceptual artists to have emerged from China since the 1990s.

While the work is all made in China, Madeln impersonates a fictional group of Middle Eastern artists, creating a kind of exhibition in disguise, “an exhibition of an exhibition.”  The use of this technique enables Xu to play down his personal identity.

Derived from “Made In”, two words that refer to manufacturing (with country of origin not specified), the name Madeln also phonetically translates into Chinese for “without a roof ” (‘méi d˘ı∙ng’), suggesting an openness to the collective’s work.

Through a range of media including sculpture, video and mixed-media installation, Madeln presents clichéd images of the Middle East, as a war-torn part of the world, associated with the oil industry, death, violence, human suffering and religious conflict. By raising issues of cultural perception, the exhibition encourages us to take a clearer view of current affairs in that region of the world.

The most recent work titled Hey, are you ready? (2009–2010) comprises of three large white sculptures made from polystyrene, one of the many by-products derived from the distillation of oil. These objects form neat, crisp packaging for the protection of loaded symbols including mosques, crescents, oil barrels and Kalashnikov rifles, revealed by negative space.

Spread (2009), a series of wall hangings covered with cartoon imagery, deal explicitly with the geographical politics of Israel, Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, China, Europe and the USA. Key political figures and scenarios are starkly drawn and exaggerated to billboard proportions, provoking and highlighting the often unconstructive and negative debates that are encountered in this area.

'Spread' by Madeln (2009) Mixed Media on Canvas, Courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery

'Spread' by Madeln (2009), mixed media on canvas. Courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery.

In Perfect Volume (2009) the toe-ends of combat desert boots create a circle on the floor representing a row of absent soldiers as imagined casualties. This references the eternity and infinity of the circle, and is further depicted in the piece Machine for Perpetual Motion (2009), a model of an oil pump, constructed meccano-style but made from razor wire. The energy needed for its movement is blatantly taken from an electrical socket.

The illusionary installation Calm (2009) is made of building debris, a carpet of bits of brick and rubble that is still at first glance. Slowly it reveals itself as animated, gently moving up and down as if it were breathing like the survivor of a bomb blast, trapped and awaiting rescue. This notion of destructive power also features in the low-level floor-based installationThe Colour of Heaven (2009), where mushroom clouds from atomic bomb explosions are placed under assorted glasses.

'The Colour of Heaven' by Madeln (2009) Glasses, painting Courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery

'The Colour of Heaven' by Madeln (2009), glasses, painting. Courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery.

The title of this exhibition refers to a verse in the Koran, “My way, and that of my followers, is to call you to God, on evidence as clear as seeing with one’s own eyes” (Sura 12, verse 108). Freely translated it is an opportunity for to reflect, a consideration of how we see – by “seeing one’s own eyes” – as much as what we see.

Seeing One’s Own Eyes” is a collaboration with S.M.A.K. (Belgium) and is on display at the Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK, until 11 July, 2010.

Two other articles regarding Xu Zhen’s Madeln and “Seeing One’s Own Eyes”, when the show was on display in other international locations, are:

RM/KN

Related Topics: Chinese artists, venues – UK, gallery shows

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Posted in Art as meditation, Cartoon, Chinese, Conceptual, Consumerism, Events, Fact and fiction blur, Found object, Gallery shows, Illustration, Installation, Middle Eastern, Political, Sculpture, Shows, UK, Video, War | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Trends and opportunities in the contemporary photography market

Posted by artradar on October 7, 2009


PHOTOGRAPHY MARKET TRENDS

At a seminar held in London in September 2009 organised by ArtInsight three London-based photography market experts from a fund, a gallery and a major auction house shared their views on the most promising opportunities and interesting trends in photography today.

We attended the seminar and have teased out surprising facts and intriguing assertions for you to mull.

Background to the photography market

  • First photography auction was held in 1971 initiated by Sotheby’s.
  • Over the past 15 years, this medium has out-performed every other major medium including sculpture, prints, painting and sculpture.

In its early history this sector of the art market encountered resistance with buyers concerned that the works were not unique and therefore were not a viable investment. The development of controlled limited editioning in the seventies helped allay fears and the market saw steady but modest growth.

This all changed in 1989/1990 which marked the 150th anniversary of the introduction of photography and the market experienced a 45% leap in sales. Further steady growth marked the next 15 years until 2005 after which sales took off. 2006 saw the highest price ever paid for a photograph …US$2.6m.

  • Today photography accounts for 2% of total auction sales compared with 75% for painting and 11% for drawing and watercolour.
  • Photography has proved to be one of the least volatile sectors in the art market.
  • 9 photographs have broken the US$1m level including work by Japanese-American Hiroshi Sugimoto.

Why has interest in and sales of photography increased?

Nobody know for sure but various reasons have been offered including relative affordability, the introduction of controlled editioning, a loyal customer base and increased market transparency.

Photography trends

There is growing interest and, arguably, opportunities in the following four subsectors of photography:

  • fashion and celebrity photography
  • reportage-style photography
  • phot0graphs recording ephemeral art forms such as performance art and land art
  • “slice of life” photography – a vernacular style dealing the everyday real life as its subject

Brett Rogers of the Photographers Gallery noted the development of a sub-genre she called “constructive fiction” which blurs the boundaries between fact and fiction crossing the techniques of the photo-journalist and fine artist.

In an interesting twist she forsees gains for collectors of photography books and advises buying first editions and examples of rare, early books. Explaining that books usually feature the very best of an artist’s work, photography books can deliver enormous joy as well as potential financial dividends.

Matt Carey-Williams, Director of Christies Post-War and Contemporary Art recommended photographs from the 1930s to 1950s – a seminal period in the development of photography as an art form – and which he believes are “massively undervalued”.

Global opportunities in photography

During question time, the panel was asked where they saw opportunities in emerging countries and the following recommendations were made.

  • Visit Sharjah and Biennial and Art Dubai to see interesting work from the Middle East and Iran.
  • Explore Central Asian countries.
  • Korea has huge potential.
  • Female Indian artists are producing some interesting work.

It was agreed that Chinese photography seemed “a little old” though Matt Carey-Williams said that it would look “remarkably fresh again in twenty years”.

Current challenges facing the market

Conservation of photographs– One of the most pressing challenges today is developing guidelines for acceptable conservation work. Colour photographs fade and some artists and galleries will ”refresh” (reprint) the works and some refuse. As museums are beginning to collect contemporary photography on a large scale, panellists felt that it was likely that this issue would be resolved

Is photography a separate genre? – Recognising that artists now work in many media. there are questions about whether it is appropriate or useful to dedicate parts of the market such as galleries or funds exclusively to photography. Matt Carey-Williams explained that as an auctioneer he regards artists as artists first and photographers second. Brett Rogers noted that this trend away from a specialisation in photography is due to a change in the way art schools teach. A consequence of a broadening of focus though is that less attention is given to technique. Image is more important than technique for young photographers today.

(Editor’s note: It is may also be a sign of market maturity – specialist focus marketing and promotion is necessary for an emerging section of the market. Today many if not most contemporary art galleries show photography as a matter of course. Just as photography is integral to and fully-accepted in today’s art world on equal terms with other media we at Art Radar are looking forward to the day Asian art is given equal weight with other geographies in art media and we can drop Asia from our name).

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Posted in Celebrity art, Documentary, Indian, Iranian, Korean, Land art, Market watch, Middle Eastern, Photography | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Abu Dhabi Art – a major new art calendar event just announced

Posted by artradar on July 16, 2009


MIDDLE EAST CONTEMPORARY ART

What promises to be an important new art date to add to your art calendar has just been announced in Abu Dhabi: the first Abu Dhabi Art event, “a major new annual event featuring international contemporary art and design” is to be held from 19-22 November. Here is the press release:

Presented under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Abu Dhabi Art will take place 19-22 November and will celebrate its inaugural edition with an art fair, exhibitions, multi-media performances, presentations, and exclusive tours and gala events at the Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi Art will include galleries from the Middle East, Europe and the United States, many of which have never before exhibited in the UAE. Internationally renowned galleries will present works of contemporary art and design by international and Middle Eastern artists, with galleries presenting a selection of masterpieces of contemporary European, American and Asian art.

Adding to the vitality of Abu Dhabi Art will be special exhibitions, including a design programme and a monumental installation of large-scale works by Arab artists; an innovative series of performances, discussions and presentations; educational offerings and lectures; private tours of Abu Dhabi Art and of cultural landmarks; and a host of gala receptions and events.

Supported by the Abu Dhabi government, the new Abu Dhabi Art will be a fresh and strongly independent platform, initiated and organised by TDIC (Tourism Development & Investment Company) and ADACH (Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage). Abu Dhabi Art will provide a new perspective on contemporary art and design from the standpoint of the Middle East, while offering visitors and art collectors from elsewhere in the Gulf region and from the world the gracious hospitality of the UAE’s capital city.

“Abu Dhabi Art adds a major new component to the schedule of world-class exhibitions, public programmes, performing arts events and more that are already happening in the Emirate, encouraging the growth of our burgeoning arts scene and building Abu Dhabi’s capacity to be a cultural capital for one of the world’s most dynamic regions,” stated His Excellency Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, Chairman of TDIC and ADACH. “Even as we prepare to welcome the world to the institutions now in development in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District — the Zayed National Museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi Museum, and more — we extend a warm invitation to the art world to join us in November, for the first presentation of the new and distinctive Abu Dhabi Art.”

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Posted in American, Art districts, Asian, European, Fairs, Globalisation, Middle Eastern, UAE | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

56 artist show Iran Inside Out – Will election unrest fan the debate about Iranian contemporary art?

Posted by artradar on June 30, 2009


IRANIAN CONTEMPORARY ART EXHIBITION US

New York’s Chelsea Art Museum is holding its “groundbreaking” exhibition Iran Inside Out (26 June to 5 September 2009) which features 35 artists living and working in Iran alongside 21 others living in the diaspora.

We are promised a “multifarious portrait of 56 contemporary Iranian artists challenging the conventional perceptions of Iran and Iranian art”. However, do not be at all surprised if unfolding events in Iran and the very art itself will result in heated debate and deep schisms about this interpretation.

Pooneh Maghazehe, Hell's Puerto Rico Performance Still, 2008 copyright artist

Pooneh Maghazehe, Hell's Puerto Rico Performance Still, 2008 copyright artist

The debate was ignited by ‘Unveiled’, a show of Middle Eastern art (half of it Iranian) at The Saatchi Gallery London in the early months of this year. The exhibition garnered plenty of critical attention but strongly divided views were expressed about the success of the organisers’ claim to overturn the cliched idea that the Middle East is synonymous with violence and intolerance.

According to Henry Chu of LA Times , “Unveiled is an exhibition which offers an alternate vision: the Middle East as a source of lively, stimulating contemporary art — informed by conflict, certainly, but not consumed by it.” Nonsense, says Dorment in The Telegraph who claims the show is replete with references to bombs, religious police and the denigration of women.

This debate will be fanned anew by recent political disturbances in Iran. Relations between foreign powers and Iran are now severely strained following the disputed re-election on 12 June of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Click to browse Iran Inside Out catalogue

Click to browse Iran Inside Out catalogue

“Iran has repeatedly accused foreign powers – especially Britain and the US – of meddling after the 12 June election, which officially handed him a decisive victory” says the BBC while The New York Times gives us a specific quote:

President Obama, who made his most critical remarks of the Iranian leadership on Friday, when he called the government’s crackdown “outrageous” … said the prospects for a dialogue with Iran had been dampened.

…“Didn’t he say that he was after change?” Mr. Ahmadinejad asked. “Why did he interfere?”

Unfolding political events will challenge the New York show’s curators, artists and museum staff and test their courage. Even before the protests, in reference to Iranian art in ‘Unveiled’, the Guardian was saying:

It is still amazing how far into politics this art bravely goes and it is no overstatement to speak of bravery in this case. One of the artists represented here, who lives in Tehran, is muffled in the gallery’s publicity shot to conceal his identity. Another, the prodigiously gifted Tala Madani, has escaped Tehran for Amsterdam but still refused to have her face revealed in a photograph. Guardian

The museum’s website raises the interesting point – and this is perhaps the nub of it – that artists in the diaspora and at home in Iran choose different forms of expression:

Ironically, contrary to one’s expectations, the artists living abroad often draw more on their cultural heritage, while those on the inside focus more on issues of everyday life without much regard to what ‘the outside’ views as specifically Iranian references.

But, whereas the museum’s writers see the focus of home-based artists on the  ‘everyday’ as an act of choice, there are some who suggest it is an act of self-preservation. Time will tell whether the description of this show will be excoriated like that of the catalogue description of ‘Unveiled’:

In her catalogue introduction to .. ‘Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East’, Lisa Farjam airily dismisses European perceptions of the Middle East as a place synonymous with political oppression, religious intolerance, and terrorism as unthinking ‘clichés’ that prevent us from understanding the richness and diversity of Muslim societies.

All I can say in response is that the artists in this show profoundly disagree with her sunny take on this part of the world. The evils Westerners see from a distance are the everyday context in which many of these painters and sculptors make their work – and it was precisely to escape repression at home that so many of the best of them now live in New York or Paris.

Their art isn’t (like so much Western art) about consumerism or celebrity or art itself; it’s about suicide bombers, religious police, unending war, and the denigration of women in Islamic societies. While I admit I was surprised that those still working in Tehran feel able to treat the subjects of gender, sexuality, religion, and politics without risking imprisonment or death, among the photos of the artists displayed at the end of the show, I noticed that one, who still lives in Tehran, has taken the precaution of wearing a balaclava. Telegraph

Related links: Exhibition description on Chelsea Art Museum site

Catalogue

In a still unusual and much-appreciated move, the museum has put the show’s catalogue online. It is a glorious glimpse of a very active art scene. Text and works by artists sit alongside interviews with collectors and galleries. Buy the ‘Iran Inside Out’ catalogue here.

FEATURED ARTISTS:

Inside Iran (35)

Abbas Kowsari, Ahmad Morshedloo, Amir Mobed, Alireza Dayani, Arash Hanaei, Arash Sedaghatkish, Arman Stepanian, Barbad Golshiri, Behdad Lahooti, Behrang Samadzadegan, Bita Fayyazi, Daryoush Gharahzad, Farhad Moshiri, Farideh Lashai, Golnaz Fathi, Houman Mortazavi, Jinoos Taghizadeh, Khosrow Hassanzadeh, Mahmoud Bakhshi Moakher, Majid Ma’soomi Rad, Mehdi Farhadian, Nazgol Ansarinia, Newsha Tavakolian, Ramin Haerizadeh, Reza Derakshani, Reza Paydari, Rokni Haerizadeh, Sadegh Tirafkan, Saghar Daeeri, Shahab Fotouhi, Shirin Aliabadi, Shirin Fakhim, Siamak Filizadeh, Siavash Nagshbandi, Vahid Sharifian

Outside Iran (21)

Ala Ebtekar, Alireza Ghandchi, caraballo–farman, Darius Yektai, Kamran Diba, Leila Pazooki, Mitra Tabrizian, Nazanin Pouyandeh, Negar Ahkami, Nicky Nodjoumi, Parastou Forouhar, Pooneh Maghazehe, Pouran Jinchi, Roya Akhavan, Samira Abbassy, Sara Rahbar, Shahram Entekhabi, Shahram Karimi, Shirin Neshat, Shiva Ahmadi, Shoja Azari

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Where is the Sharjah Art Museum heading? – Manal Ataya, Sharjah Museums director

Posted by artradar on June 18, 2009


MIDDLE EAST MUSEUMS

The Art Newspaper has published a fascinating video interview with the Director of the Sharjah Museum, Manal Ataya. Because the video is in a frame rather than its own separate page, it is not possible to link to it directly so we have paraphrased some of the most interesting snippets of information.

map-sharjah2

Sharjah – the cultural emirate

Sharjah is just one of seven of the emirates which make up the United Arab Emirates and is often called the ‘cultural emirate’ because its leading position in arts infrastructure. It has a well-respected biennial and three museums devoted to art:

  • Museum of Islamic Civilisation
  • Sharjah Art Museum and Contemporary Arab Art
  • Sharjah Calligraphy Museum

His Highness the Emir’s passion and vision

Sharjah’s pre-eminent position in the Middle Eastern art scene is largely due to the energy and vision of His Highness the Emir of Sharjah and in this video Manal Ataya gives us an intriguing insight into the progressive and enlightened principles which he communicates to his museum staff.

For example, she explains that His Highness encourages staff to thirst after knowledge and he encourages extensive and continual reading.

He believes that culture and museums encourage flexibility of thinking which can help to promote openness and understanding between people and, ultimately, bring peace. He also believes that a developed sensitivity to aesthetics spills over into other facets of human endeavour, for example an appreciation of the arts can help a teacher teach and a politician polemicise and a doctor practise.

Islam prohibits the figurative in art? Not true

Manal Ataya also points out and clears up some misconceptions about the Islamic prohibition of the figure in art. She explains that there is a tradition of portraiture in the Middle East and Islamic rules are more nuanced than is commonly understood.

Islam does allow human representation and it is only forbidden in a religious context or space. She explains that there are some sects which do not allow representation of the human figure in any context but these are not Islamic rules per se.

Youthful demographics – 70% under 30 years –  shaping museum plans

 The Emir has a young population (perhaps 70% are under the age of 30, says Ataya) and this age group is showing a strong interest in digital and graphic art. The museum plans to show more sculpture and 3D work, which is not traditional in Sharjah.

Collaboration with Abu Dhabi and its blockbuster museums

When asked about potential collaboration with Abu Dhabi, the largest and richest of the UAE’s city-states which is planning blockbuster branded museums such as the Louvre and Guggenheim, Ataya explains that the museums in Sharjah are always ready and able to collaborate and work with others.

She describes how they have already started working with Abu Dhabi’s universities which have disciplines in the arts. She believes that Sharjah is just one of seven emirates and they can unite successfully to bring UAE a more prominent role in the international art scene.

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See Manal Ataya, Sharjah Museum director video interview 14 mins May 2009 – in a frame so may be difficult to find

Related links: Sharjah museums website, Art Newspaper subscription

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Posted in Art districts, Curators, Interviews, Islamic art, Middle Eastern, Museum collectors, Museum shows, Nonprofit, Professionals | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

How art from half of Asia has been missed – interview Leeza Ahmady ACAW director

Posted by artradar on May 4, 2009


 ASIAN CONTEMPORARY ART WEEK 2009

Leeza Ahmady talks to Art Radar about her involvement in the Asian Contemporary Art Week (ACAW) in New York. She discusses her two missions: first to broaden the definition of Asian art – yes, she tells us, the Middle East is part of the Asian continent  – and second, to connect Asians with one another.

 

This is the first part of a 3 part interview.

 

AR: You have an interesting story tell us about how you got involved with the Asian Contemporary Art Week. What happened?

LA: Some time ago I was studying arts and cultural management at Pratt Institute in New York and writing my thesis on Central Asia. One of my classes was about leadership and we were given the assignment to choose a leader in the arts field and have a daring interview with them.

Well I really took that on. Who do I want to do this with, I asked myself. I remember choosing Vishakha Desai who is now the president of the Asia Society but at the time was the Museum Director.  I hounded her assistants and emailed them until I got an interview. And we had a wonderful very pleasant interview. I asked her standard questions about how she started and what she envisioned for her role. I asked her how much of that she had managed to accomplish and questioned her about her leadership style.  

Then I took a deep breath and  I dared to ask the real question I wanted to ask. How did the Asia Society justify calling itself the Asia Society when half of the Asian continent is missing from its programming. She was amazing and answered me carefully and diplomatically.

AR: It is a provocative question! What did she say?

LA: Very matter-of-factly she explained to me that everyone has to narrow their mission and the Asia Society was supported by the Rockefellers in the early days and their original mission focused on East Asia. She explained that of course other regions are now being integrated.

Then she looked at me and said 10 years ago when I came on the scene, there was no such thing as India particularly from a contemporary art perspective. Then it was only about antiquities so what I had to do was make it my mission to change that and I did that. She didn’t say it in so many words but I got this really wonderful answer which was if you want to make something happen don’t complain about it. You have to take it on and make it happen yourself.  It was as provocative as my question to her.

AR: And then?

LA: Well we kept in touch and I kept her up-to-date about my research in Central Asia. A few months later she wrote to me: “Leeza I have a wonderful project for you. Talk with Melissa Chiu and get involved in the Asian Contemporary Art Week” and that was 4 years ago – the end of 2004.

 

Mohsen Ahmadvand, Wrestlers, 2008, mixed media, courtesy of artist, Thomas Erben and XVA galleries

Mohsen Ahmadvand, Wrestlers, 2008, mixed media, courtesy of artist, Thomas Erben and XVA galleries

 

 

AR: So can you tell us more about the ACAW? What is it?

LA: The Asia Contemporary Art Week is an initiative started by a group of independent curators, museum directors, collectors and seminal people interested in creating awareness about Asian art primarily in New York, but also elsewhere. They formed a consortium, the Asian Contemporary Art Consortium, in 2001 to create public educational programs.

Rather than doing things in isolation, they felt it would be more effective to join forces once a year or so and make this one big loud noise together. When I came in it was small and limited to galleries and museums already focused on Asian art. But I was interested in encouraging others to jump on the wagon. I wanted to motivate those who were thinking of showing a couple of Asian artists but who were, perhaps, a little reluctant because they did not have the backing or voice.

AR: Vishakha Desai helped to raise the profile of India in the Asia Society. What has been your mission and your contribution to Asian Contemporary Art Week?

LA: My contribution has been based on my strong desire to expand participation not just by the galleries and museums but also by the artists. 

We now have featured artists from all over Asia, not only from the traditional participants of China, Japan, Korea and Taiwan. We have gradually moved West and we now include more artists  from, amongst others, Vietnam Thailand Pakistan Indonesia Iran Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. Now over the last 2 years I have been trying to really broaden the notion of what constitutes Asia by bringing in the Middle East. Lebanese, Turkish, Palestinian and Israeli artists have been represented in 2008 and 2009.

AR: That sounds like an enormous undertaking. Asia is a huge continent.

LA: My specialty is Central Asia so of course I have had to learn a lot.  If you want to be involved in something I believe that you really need to know the players and what is going on with everyone. And by being involved in Asia Contemporary Art Week I am lucky enough to be at the centre of a lot of networks.

AR: What has been the response?

LA: I have spent a lot of time figuring who would be interested in opening their doors  to help broaden frontiers. Fortunately people have been very open because of the success of artists in the international arena from Central Asia. And people are curious, they do want to know what else is out there.

AR: How much do people know about the Asian continent in New York?

LA: Well there is a lot of confusion. For example take the Middle East. Iran is somehow there and not there at the same time. Afghanistan? There is also a lot of confusion about where it is and whether it is in the Middle East, Central Asia or South Asia.

AR: In the past you have talked passionately about opening up Asia to the Asians. We often hear people talk about connecting East and West but why do you feel there is a need for connection within Asia?

LA: Well the fact that the Middle East is a vast territory within Asia surprises people. In the US, Asia represents China Korea and Japan and only very recently has it been expanded to include India and Pakistan.

There is tremendous ignorance about Central Asia and when I tell someone from Korea or Japan that I too am from Asia, they look perplexed and ask well where are you from? When I say, “I am from Afghanistan” they look confused. Afghanistan shares a 76 kilometer border with China. To me it is simply incredible that in such an interconnected world, people on the same continent can still be so disconnected from eachother. There were years of Soviet rule which kept Central Asia out of reach but at the same time it is now 20 years since the Soviet rule ended.

AR: Why do you feel promoting connections within Asia is so important?

LA: I remember learning so much about all the countries around the world when I was at school in Kabul in Afghanistan. Why do I feel its important ? There is something wise about knowing yourself well. Asians share so may linguistic, spiritual and cultural ties which have broken down as a result of politics.

Historically Iran and Afghanistan were regarded as part of Central Asia. This changed for Iran after the Shah was deposed in 1979. With the dissolution of Soviet rule, 5 states from the USSR became independent including Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. These 5 states are now more commonly referred to as Central Asia.

Meanwhile Afghanistan was left hanging in limbo until the events of September 11 shot it directly back into the Middle East. Recently Afghanistan has been referred to as part of South Asia.

AR: Why have these connections within Asia broken down?

Economic and political policies create disconnections and I feel the best way to make things whole is through art. At least that is what artists do. They try to break things down and put them back together. The idea of deconstructing and constructing, I see art as something beyond aesthetics and intellectual mumbo jumbo. I see it as a  tool for people to become more aware, spiritual and connected to themselves and others.

Leeza Ahmady was born in Afghanistan and lives in New York. Her specialist area is Central Asia.

This is the first part of a 3 part interview:

Related links: Asian Contemporary Art Week website

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Posted in Events, Gallery shows, Middle Eastern, Museum shows, New York, Professionals, USA | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Abraaj Capital Art Prize fills a void in the art prize world

Posted by artradar on May 4, 2009


ABRAAJ CAPITAL ART

Unlike other art prizes, the Abraaj Capital Art Prize is awarded for art project proposals rather than work already produced.

By recognising the latent potential of ideas and providing funding for the winners, the Abraaj Art Prize which is open to artists from MENASA (Middle East, North Africa and South Asia) helps to bring into being works that may otherwise never have been made.

Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Walk on the Sky, installation, 2009

Zoulikha Bouabdellah, Walk on the Sky, installation, 2009

In its inaugural year the winning projects were on show for the first time at the Art Dubai art fair in March 2009.

Zoulika Bouabdellah

The winning piece by Algerian video and installation artist Zoulika Bouabdellah (b.1977) and curator Carol Solomon was a stunning three dimensional space called Walk on Sky, Pisces 2009.

The piece recreates the night sky with a system of light-emitting diodes mounted on an aluminium ceiling to form a constellation of of stars. The viewer is invited to walk on the  stainless steel floor which mirrors the pulsing pattern of coloured stars 3 meters above thus creating an experience of walking on the sky.

Multiple sources inform the work including the polygon star (a key geometric configuration in Islamic art), the influential tenth-century treatise, Book of Fixed Stars by the Persian astronomer Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi and the story of the legendary glass floor erected in front of King Solomon’s throne which the Queen of Sheba was led to believe was water. (note 1)

Bouabdellah’s work demands the involvement of the spectator, who must physically enter the installation in order to be able to experience it .

“It is not interesting from afar; you have to walk on it. When you walk on it, it becomes art.” explains Bouabdellah to the Gulf News.

When Art Radar viewed the piece out of doors at Art Dubai, the floor was covered in desert sand footprints and fascinated children played games of flying and sliding across the sky floor. As dusk fell the viewers became shadows and the coloured star patterns above and their reflections below grew more dominant, becoming intricate patterns of colour piercing the gloom. 

The work of the 10th century Persian astronomer Abd Al Rahman Al Sufi has provided a key source of inspiration for the piece. “My work is a homage to science, to global intelligence.”

Speaking of the influence of Islamic culture in her work, Bouabdellah points to a period between the 9th and 15th centuries, an era to which she would like to return in terms of the expansiveness and inclusivity of Islamic culture.

 “Islamic culture during that period was like bridges between spaces. We cannot talk about Islamic culture without talking about Africa, India, Southern Spain, China.” The era represents for her a time when the yearning for knowledge transcended boundaries and cultural categories, when the Caliph would invite scholars, regardless of religion or ethnicity, to the Maison du Savoir in Baghdad. (note 2)

It seemed to us in the failing light as the echos of playing children reverberated inside the space, that the piece was more than a bridge linking spaces. Children showed us it was also a bridge across generations and a magic carpet of possibility. Just one warning….best to wear trousers if you want to take a walk across the mirrored floor of magic.

The other winners were:

Nazgal Ansarinia

Nazgol Ansarinia, Rhyme and Reason, carpet 2009

Nazgol Ansarinia, Rhyme and Reason, carpet 2009

Iranian artist Nazgal Ansarinia (b 1979) with curator Leyla Fakhr for her carpet piece Rhyme and Reason 2009 in which she transforms the traditional floral motifs of the Persian carpet into scenes of contemporary life from Iran. The work prompts us to take a closer look at what is being taken for granted.

Nazgol Ansarinia, Rhyme and Reason detail

Nazgol Ansarinia, Rhyme and Reason detail

Kutlug Ataman

Turkish artist Kutlug Ataman (b 1961) with Italian curator Cristiana Perrella for his video Strange Space in which the artist is filmed crossing a sulphorous desert land with bare feet and blinded eyes.  The piece is inspired by a classical folk story in which the hero blinded by the love of the heroine is condemned to wander in the desert trying to find her just to burn in flames when they finally meet. Ataman’s work is a metaphor for the relationship of attraction and trauma created when tradition and modernity meet.

Kutlug Ataman, Strange Space, video, 2009

Kutlug Ataman, Strange Space, video, 2009

Notes:

1.  Abraaj Capital Art Prize 2009 pamphlet distributed at Fort Island, Madinat Jumeirah at Art Dubai 18-21 March 2009

2.  Gulf News

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Posted in Carpet art, Classic/Contemporary, Dubai, Emerging artists, Installation, Iranian, Islamic art, Light, Middle East, Middle Eastern, Participatory, Prizes, Space, Turkish, Video | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »