Features, Innovation

Green Looks Forward: Dubai Reps Arab Art at Weeklong Expo

March 24, 2010

Dubai, home of its eponymous film festival, fashion week, and cutting-edge architecture (including the tallest building in the world), is clearly the Islamic world’s leader in cultural exhibition. Continuing in this spirit was last week’s 4th annual Art Dubai expo, a large, multicultural contemporary art fair repping 70 galleries from every corner of the earth, including Sydney, Madrid, Paris, Mumbai, Istanbul, Beirut, Berlin, Budapest, and of course Dubai itself.

Dubai strikes again! Somehow, Dubai, amongst all others in the region, has managed to strike an impeccable balance between its Arab roots, the international scene, and its hopes for the future. Presentations on building and developing the Tehran Art Museum were coupled with economy-conscious talks of soliciting corporate patronage in the current crisis, while nights were capped with parties sponsored by the likes of Harpers Bazaar and Veuve Cliquot. No other place in the Muslim world has been able to bring the international community together as seamlessly and with as much glitz, style, and promise as Dubai.

The Green Art Gallery in Dubai, an active participant in the Art Dubai expo, perhaps best represents this long-lived dedication to sourcing, encouraging, and promoting Arab artists, in a way accessible to all. Since its charter in 1995, Green Art Gallery has built a formidable collector base in Dubai while launching the careers of Arab and Muslim artists. The current exhibition of Moroccan artist Hakim Ghazali’s series “For the Love of Noon” beautifully embodies an artistic tradition as aware of its roots as it is of its ability to repurpose those roots with an eye to the future; Ghazali, classically trained in Arabic calligraphy, employs his traditional skill to simultaneously celebrate and abstract our understanding of those Arabic letters, what they have symbolized historically, and what they might mean, now, in his view.

The Art Dubai expo has achieved that end most elusive and prized among artists: to expose its viewers to their own selves, past and present, and perhaps more importantly, future, showing them who they can be. In looking at this massive display of Arab and Muslim talent, one gains a sense of past and heritage shared by the artists and the cultures that inform their work.  Who, in looking at this display could not be encouraged by the progress and potential of Arab and Muslim artists, and hope that the visions they have lain on canvas and otherwise might translate into a reality of social and economic inventiveness that will leave the world, Muslim and non-Muslim, Arab and non-Arab, likewise captivated and intrigued.

Every contemporary Muslim owes a debt to Dubai for repping Muslim culture in a way that looks forward, and in a way that makes us look forward, too.

For more on the Art Dubai expo, click here.

Image from “For the Love of Noon, Hakim Ghazali” Current Exhibition



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