Tribal life, powder painting draw crowds at Dubai art night

Dubai’s art lovers and creative community come together for a new edition of the DIFC’s Art Nights. The evenings, when galleries open their doors and showcase new artworks at the financial centre, also featured dance performances, culinary creations, and live art. Here are some of the highlights.

Contemporary Emirati art

An exhibition hosted by the Farjam Foundation, 1971 - Contemporary Art From The UAE, put on show the works of 14 established and emerging Emirati artists. The artworks explore topics such as the artists’ relationship with their home country and its culture, as well as the UAE’s ever-changing landscape and history.

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Artworks by Emirati artist Lateefa Bint Maktoum on display at the 1971 exhibition

“We wanted to showcase the Emirati talent that we feel is now shown enough in the UAE,” says Magda Jentgen, Associate Director at The Farjam Foundation. “We definitely see growing interest in Emirati art. As soon as we opened the exhibition we realised there are a few other galleries showcasing Emirati art opening, and we also got a lot of positive feedback about the show.”

The exhibit features photography art from Anas Al Dheeb, H.H. Sheikha Lateefa Bint Makhtoom, Lamya Gargash and Maitha Huraiz, as well as paintings from artists such as Abdul Qader Al Rais, H.H. Shaikha Alyazia Bint Nahyan Al Nahyan and Hussein Sharif. Around 70 per cent of works are by established artists and 30 per cent by emerging artists.

The Farjam Foundation is a private, non-profit organisation, that aims to foster cross-cultural dialogue through art and culture. 

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Interest in Emirati art in Dubai is growing, says Magda Jentgen

art galleries DIFC dubai music culinary food dance artist culture
Lamya Gargash exhibits her photographic work at the 1971 exhibition

Documentary photographer Anas Al Dheeb displayed black and white photographs, depicting people that are often disregarded in everyday life doing mundane things, transforming them through is work into fascinating subjects. 

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Documentary photographer Anas Al Dheeb depicts the unsung heroes of everyday life

Culinary Art

Chefs from the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) showed off their culinary talents, drawing a large crowd with their imaginative food art presentation. 

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Chefs demonstrate their talents in a special food presentation

Interpretive dance

Award-winning UK dancers Mick and Adam gave a unique live dance performance at the art night. The duo, between them, have previously worked with artists such as Kelly Rowland, David Guetta, Plan B, Joe Stone, and in productions for companies BBC, ITV, MTV and Ferrari. 

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UK dancers Mick and Adam perform an interpretative dance

‘Listen to the Beats’

In his latest body of work, exhibited at the Artspace gallery, Egyptian artist Adel El Siwi put his fascination with music centre stage. The exhibiton, titled 'Listen to the Beats', includes paintings capturing musical instruments with their different shapes and forms and their effect on musicians who play them, something that has intrigued El Siwi since childhood. 

Sossy Dikijian, Art Director at the Artspace gallery in Dubai, says El Siwi has become one of the region’s more established artists with a dedicated following.

“His works are definitely in important collections with private and public foundations and institutions and private collectors. He is a sought after artist,” she says.

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Artworks by Egyptian artist, Adel El Siwi, capture his fascination with music

El Siwi spent 12 years training himself and traveling in Europe and Egypt before his first major exhibition in 1985 at the Cairo Atelier. Since then, he has done solo exhibitions in Egypt, Germany, Lebanon and Italy, and group exhibitions in countries such as Brazil and Mexico.

Commenting on Dubai’s art market, Dikijian describes it as stable, with increasing demand from the West for Middle Eastern art.

“Western institutions and museums, private and public collectors, are looking more and more into Middle Eastern art.”

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El Siwi's Black Masters I and Black Masters II mixed-media paintings are themed around music and musicians

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Egyptian artist, Adel El Siwi, speaking to visitors at the Artspace gallery

The art of Rangoli  

Artist Noush Anand grabbed visitors' attention while creating her ‘Spill! Powdered Chaos’ live art at the DIFC event. Anand brought to life a folk-art tradition from India known as Rangoli, which deploys dry coloured powder to make patterns on the ground. Rangoli is typically created by women as a form of decoration to celebrate festivities. The vibrantly-coloured powder is shown spilling on the floor from a bucket as if it were liquid. 

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Noush Anand uses dry coloured powder to make patterns on the ground

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Anand creates live art at the DIFC's latest edition of Art Nights

A fleeting world

One of the night’s highlights was The Empty Quarter Gallery’s ‘Before they pass away’ photography exhibition by Jimmy Nelson. The stunning pictures by the acclaimed photographer document some of the world’s most incredible indigenous cultures from around the world that have survived to this day.

“We decided to feature Jimmy Nelson in our gallery, who is a British photographer known for his portraits of tribal and indigenous peoples. Many of the tribes he photographs are naturally suspicious of outsiders, so the fact that he can convince them to pose for him at all is really special,” says Sebastian Ebbinghaus, the gallery’s manager.  

“Also, I like that he uses an old camera and stages his subjects, which lends more of a romance to the scene.” 

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The Empty Quarter gallery exhibits works by photographer Jimmy Nelson

art galleries DIFC dubai music culinary food dance artist culture
Photographer Jimmy Nelson documented some of the most fascinating indigenous cultures from around the world

Table tennis for a more active life

Ping Pong Dubai, a community initiative that aims to encourage people of all ages and fitness levels to play table tennis and become more active, got visitors moving with a number of tables available at the art night.  

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Visitors to the DIFC art event have the option to play a game of table tennis, as part of the Ping Pong Dubai community initiative