Art Fairs

Zhivago Duncan and Jeffar Khaldi at Art Dubai Contemporary


Meem Gallery is delighted to announce our participation in the tenth edition of Art Dubai, from March 16th – 19th 2016, exhibiting the work of two contemporary artists; Berlin-based Zhivago Duncan, and Dubai-based Jeffar Khaldi.

Migration has been at the forefront of human consciousness over the last two years - the exodus of peoples from Syria, Iraq, South Asia and North Africa to Europe being the most reported-on news stories of 2015. It is within the concept of borders/migration, that Meem Gallery selected specific works to explore how two artists approach ideas of borders, both geographical and hypothetical, and how this relates to the idea of belonging in the human consciousness.

In the work of Zhivago Duncan, it is often the actual material and technique that he uses that references his exploration of borders. In his 2014 series, Your Love Reminds Me of Mortality, Duncan uses unusual materials such as stitched canvases, rabbit size and ink on canvas - to create works that appear discolored. He later alters the works, adding another canvas, stitching the works together to create one, or adding a new material that was not originally envisioned. In ________’s Conception of Itself (California Roll), we are asked as viewers to wonder, who is ______? What is its impression of itself? How do we approach notions of identity and self-awareness?

The second work by Duncan, Where the Mountains Break Geometrically, visualizes a pastel landscape of loose squares, sitting awkwardly amongst one another; allowing the artist to explore these concepts of separation, borders and cultures.

In the work of Jeffar Khaldi, we turn to the 2008 oil on canvas, Promised Land. The title is loaded, immediately bringing forth Biblical imagery and referencing current Middle Eastern political hostilities. The work itself shows a lone figure on horseback, entering a contemporary landscape. The viewer is left to consider whether or not this is indeed the ‘promised land’, and what marks it as so? The biblical ‘promised land’ was geographically described, but it can also be considered as a spiritual ideal, rather than a physical space. As with Duncan, Khaldi considers the ideas of borders, separation and the human focus on gaining a sense of belonging.

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Shaker Hassan Al Said and Faiq Hassan at Art Dubai Modern


Meem Gallery is delighted to announce our participation in the third edition of Art Dubai Modern. Meem Gallery has chosen to highlight two outstanding artists from the Modern Iraqi art history, Faiq Hassan and Shakir Hassan Al Said. These two artists have often been described as pioneers, instrumental to the development of art in Iraq during the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s and teachers of the next generation of artists of the Arab world.

Faiq Hassan and Shakir Hassan Al Said were selected not only due to the high quality and scarcity of their work, but also due to their legacy as founding fathers of the Modern Iraqi art movement. Both artists founded specialist groups, wrote about art, produced art and supported the younger generation of Iraqi artists, as well as their peers. By bringing together these two prominent artists, Meem Gallery will display highly important paintings that act as monuments to a specific time in Arab art history.

The works selected for this presentation are dramatically different in terms of aesthetics. Faiq Hassan’s 1950 work, Bedouin Tent, brings to mind the early Cubist works of Picasso and Braque. Hassan himself has been referred to as Primitivist, an Impressionist and a Cubist – and regardless of which technical term one finds most appropriate for his work, the main achievement of his oeuvre was his ability to immortalize the aspects of everyday life in Iraq. In Bedouin Tent, the flatness of the work, the sharp, angular lines and the earth tone are all evocative of the Cubist style of the early 20th Century, however, within the work is something truly indicative of Arab culture, in the form of the subject. The coffee urn, shrouded figures and coffee cups are all ubiquitously iconic of the Bedouin people, a nomadic yet hospitable culture found throughout the Arab world.

Faiq Hassan studied in Paris, under a Government funded scholarship he was able to enroll at the Ecole Nationale Superieue des Beaux-Arts, and through his education there found himself returning to Iraq, bringing together his sense of nationality and the techniques he had been taught. This formulated in his founding of the Societe Primitive, or Pioneers Group, which while short-lived, included prominent members such as Ismail Fattah and Kaydem Haider.

Shakir Hassan Al Said’s Untitled of 1976 is a deeply abstracted work from what has become known as his “Wall series”. Al Said’s practice became deeply conceptual after experimenting early in his career with the more traditional style of figuration, illuminated by his formation of the One Dimension Group in 1971. The shift from pictorial scenes to the abstracted walls of Baghdad allowed Al Sad to focus more upon the form of the letter; approaching it from a layman’s level, rather than a calligraphic master.

Shakir Hassan al Said also studied at the Ecole Nationale Superieue des Beaux-Arts, graduating in 1959, prior to which he studied under the influential artist Jewad Selim at the Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad. In 1951 he co-founded the Baghdad Group for Modern Art, and later founded Al Bu’d al Wahad, or One Dimension Group. His manifesto from the Baghdad Group for Modern Art was considered the first ever artist manifesto in Iraq, and has contributed to his prominence as an artist, writer, art historian and theorist. 

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