Amar Dawod: Al-Hallaj and The Tawasin


2 December 2013 – 20 January 2014  

Meem Gallery presents Amar Dawod's first solo exhibition in Dubai, displaying twenty-six mixed-media works by the artist. The exhibition is dedicated to the mystical writings of Mansur al-Hallaj, the famous Sufi thinker, writer and teacher who was executed in 922 for heresy. Drawing specifically on al-Hallaj's celebrated Kitab al-Tawasin (The Tawasin) as a point of departure for this series, Dawod represents his understanding of the eleven verses of The Tawasin in vivid and muted colours. His compositions demonstrate the careful interaction between line, abstract form, attention to detail and collage in his rendering of figures, angels, and patterned patchwork backgrounds. The exhibition's catalogue will feature essays by the artist, Stephen Hirtenstein, Louai Hamza Abbas, and Suhail Sami Nader, as well as a full English translation of The Tawasin

Dawod has drawn influence from the works of al-Hallaj since his early years in Baghdad, during the mid-1970s. At the Institute of Fine Arts, where the artist received his diploma in 1979, Dawod attended the lectures of the late artist Shakir Hassan Al Said, whose theoretical ideas on art were strongly derived from Sufi thought (most notably his theory of the One Dimension). For Dawod, the ideas of al-Hallaj resonate 'because of the inherent desire of painters to traverse the self and overcome or deny it in order to completely ascend to where God declares His presence through the signs that have influenced many of the Sufis' minds, including al-Hallaj.' Though Dawod's works are not a literal translation of al-Hallaj's ideas, he has noted that the Sufi thinker's often complex style of writing has affected the approach to his art practice: 'This unique style has inspired my artistic perspective and its approaches, thus enabling me to rebel against the method and conditions of what is called "pure painting", in addition to enhancing my ability to focus on my individual style and artistic practice. Today's art should, therefore, open new horizons for interpreting its formal and connotative spheres which are expanding all the time.'

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Art Syria


21 October – 24 November 2013

Meem Gallery is pleased to announce the forthcoming group exhibition, Art Syria; a new exhibition comprised of works by seven established artists, all Syrian in nationality. Art Syria was inspired by the artists that continue to live and work in Syria today, despite the strife and danger that they face. All of the works that comprise Art Syria have been created in the past three years, documenting in their own way the civil war and its effect on the Syrian people. Each artist has responded to this period of instability by concentrating on their art; staying true to their style whilst exploring this new landscape, both geographical and metaphorical, through their practice. The technique of the artists is distinctive; media used in this exhibition includes acrylic on canvas, ink on rice paper, charcoal on card and mixed media, among other methods.

The artists included in this exhibition have exhibited in solo and collective shows throughout the Middle East, Europe and the United States; and their works can be found in important private and public collections, as well as at prestigious Biennales. The work of Youssef Abdelke in particular can be found in the Kuwait National Museum, Kuwait City, National Museum of Damascus, and British Museum in London.

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Modern Iraqi Art: A Collection


13 May – 27 June 2013

Meem Gallery is pleased to present an extensive collection of works, including paintings and mixed-media compositions, by modern and contemporary Iraqi artists. Modern Iraqi Art: A Collection takes viewers through the decades of Iraq's modern and contemporary art production. The exhibition represents the creative output of three generations of artists, starting with the work of modern masters such as Faiq Hassan who, with Jewad Selim, pioneered the country's modern art scene and forged an artistic identity specific to Iraq. Second generation 'pioneer' artists like Dia Azzawi, Shakir Hassan Al Said and Ismail Fattah, who encouraged a pan-Arab focus for art during the late-1960s and 1970s, as well as a more theoretical approach to art-making, also feature in this collection. Completing the display is the work of the 'eighties generation' of artists, including Hanaa Malallah, Halim Karim and Mahmoud Obaidi, who were taught by the previous generation at the Institute and Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad, and bring with them an aesthetic that is rooted in Iraq's cultural heritage but simultaneously affected by the experience of exile.

The artists represented in the exhibition have work in important regional and international collections such as the Museums of Modern Art in Baghdad, Damascus and Tunis; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman; British Museum, Tate Modern and Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, and Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah. Modern Iraqi Art follows a series of Iraqi art shows by the gallery: Dia Azzawi (2009, solo exhibition), Art in Iraq Today (2010-11, five-part series), and the recent Elegy To My Trapped City (displaying Azzawi's mural-sized painting, 2012). Additionally, this year the Arab League and UNESCO announced Baghdad as the Arab Capital of Culture. Modern Iraqi Art: A Collection will be accompanied by a catalogue of the works held in the collection.

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Khaled Hafez: Moving Forward By The Day


13 March – 2 May 2013

Moving Forward By The Day presents a series of large-scale mixed-media works which examine ideas relating to personal and collective identity and memory. Inspired by the sacred funerary texts from the Book of the Dead (c. 1550 BCE), this series confronts viewers with ironic renderings of cultural tropes, as Hafez believes that 'we are at a point in history where there is cultural recycling: visual, conceptual...' By drawing on symbols and forms culled from ancient Egyptian iconography and international contemporary culture, Hafez creates thought-provoking compositions recognizable to both local and international audiences.       

This is Hafez's first exhibition at Meem Gallery, and the first solo exhibitions he has held in the Gulf region. He has held solo exhibitions in Egypt, where he lives and works, France, Italy, Spain and Cameroon and has work in public international collections including Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki; Saatchi Collection, London; MuHKA Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp; Ars Aevi Museum of Contemporary Art, Sarajevo; Horcynus Orca Foundation, Messina; and Mali National Museum, Bamako.

His works have been displayed in Hiroshima Museum of Contemporary Art, Hiroshima, 2012; State Museum of Contemporary Art, Thessaloniki, 2011; Museum of Contemporary Art, Roskilde, Denmark, 2007 & 2011; Instituto Tomie Ohtake, Sao Paolo, 2011; Yuchengco Museum, Manila, 2011; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 2010 & 2012; The New Museum NY, 2010; Casa Arabe, Madrid, 2010; Saatchi Gallery, London, 2009; Queens Museum, NY, 2008; Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris, 2008 & 2012; Tate Modern, London, 2007; MuHKA Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp, 2007 & 2011; and Kunstmuseum, Bonn, 2007.

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Parviz Tanavoli: Rugs


15 January – 28 February 2013

This exhibition displays Parviz Tanavoli's recent rugs collection. More commonly known for his sculptures and as one of the founders of the 'Saqqakhaneh School', Tanavoli has for many decades researched, written about, collected and created rugs. The artist's ongoing interest in Iranian visual culture has pervaded his artistic practice, which spans over fifty years, as well as his creation of rugs: pictorial, lion, prayer design, and gabbeh. Subjects explored in his rug designs are not only culled from the tribal and nomadic arts and culture of Iran but from the themes found in his art, such as Farhad the Mountain Carver, Lovers, Poet, Lion, Bird and Cage. He also draws inspiration from traditional Persian literature, most notably the mythological stories of King Hushang Shah and Sheikh San'an. In 1973, Tanavoli founded the Tehran Rug Society, organizing two tribal weave exhibitions in 1975 and 1976.

The first solo exhibition displaying his rug designs was held in Tehran's Zand Gallery in 1978. From 1975-92 his Lion Rugs of Fars exhibition, which displayed his personal collection of lion rugs, toured the US, Canada, UK, Germany, Switzerland, Australia and Iran. Following the 1979 revolution, and the Iran-Iraq war, socio-political circumstances prevented him from displaying his sculptures in Iran, leading him to focus on designing and producing gabbehs. His first gabbeh exhibition was held in Vienna's Bessim Gallery in 1986, followed by others in London, Zurich and Cologne. A selection of his rugs are held at the Tate Modern, London, Kerman Museum and in several private collections. This is Tanavoli's second exhibition - in 2009 his sculptures were exhibited alongside photographic works by Abbas Kiarostami - at Meem Gallery. His work was also presented by Meem at the Abu Dhabi Art Fair in 2010 and 2011; the first display exhibited a selection of Tanavoli's bronze sculptures (with the paintings of Iraqi artist, Dia Azzawi), and the second display showcased his monumental, stainless-steel, heech sculpture.

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