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Exploring Bawwaba 2019’s Artists with Curator Élise Atangana

This year saw the launch of Art Dubai’s new gallery section, Bawwaba. Taking its name from the Arabic word for ‘Gateway’, the debut edition was curated by French Cameroonian Élise Atangana  and featured ten solo presentations from artists from, based in, and/or focused on projects about Latin America, the Middle East, Africa and Central and South Asia, which looked at the materiality of the object as traces of memories, exploring different perceptions of temporality as well as historical, political or intimate narratives.

Looking back at Bawwaba 2019, Atangana explained to Art Dubai her reasoning behind the ten artists she selected and why they should be on collectors’ radar:

Hamara Abbas (Kuwait, 1976), represented by Canvas Gallery, Pakistan

Hamara Abbas presented the second of her Paradise series of new stone sculptures, created using the technique of marble inlay, called parchinkari in South Asia (pietra dura in Italian). This series is based on imagery is documented from shrines, mosques, tombs, gardens, and the 17th century Lahore Fort, all located at the heart of old Lahore. These are images of fruits, flowers, trees, vines, vessels and waterfalls.

“Abbas examines the symbolic significance of such images in relation to the images of paradise in Islam and will appeal to collectors interested in collective memory and identity of place,” said Atangana.

Artist Hamra Abbas and her artwork, represented by Canvas Gallery

Kristoffer Ardeña (Philippines, 1976), 856G Gallery, Mandaue

Kristoffer Ardeña’s artworks are created with paint on wrapping or packing. The process uses domestic material culture, common in both urban and rural Philippines, like a canned sardine or rice cooker brand. These are then interwoven into painted geometric patterns on fabric.

“Collectors who love colour, texture and graphic patterns will love Ardeña’s work,” Atangana said.

Artwork by Kristoffer Ardeña’s at 856G gallery booth, Art Dubai 2019 

José Chambel (São Tomé and Príncipe, 1969), represented by Perve Galeria, Lisbon

José Chambel’s analogue photography focuses on the preservation of cultural heritage in Portugal, São Tomé and Principe and Cape Verde, bringing ancestral practices and traditions to the contemporary field. Across the globe, he also explores the African diaspora; legacy of culture and history brings a plurality of the individual, voices and stories.

“Chambel’s perspective is like that of an archaeologist and his themes focus on tangible and intangible heritage through his photographs installation. Collectors will be drawn to their sense of folklore and masquerades as well as the diversity of subject and landscapes.”

Jose Chambel, Perve Galeria at Art Dubai 2019

Shezad Dawood (UK, 1974), Jhaveri Contemporary, Mumbai

Shezad Dawood works across various multi-disciplines, with his practice often involving collaboration and knowledge exchange, mapping across geographic borders and communities.

“Through a fascination with the esoteric, otherness and science fiction, Dawood interweaves histories, realities and symbolism to create richly layered artworks. Bawwaba aside, Dawood also has a presence at Sharjah Biennale, with collectors able to explore his extended practice in more detail.”

Shezad Dawood, Jhaveri Contemporary at Art Dubai 2019

Chourouk Hriech (France, 1977), represented by Galerie Anne-Sarah Bénichou, Paris

“I’m a fan of how Chourouk Hriech incorporates architecture and urban landscape and exclusively in black and white.  Her drawings represent the bustle of big cities, the scale of which brings an immersive experience. Her work is multi-layered: spatial, geographical and historical; the narrative both open and closed.

“Her work would appeal to collectors who enjoy immersive art and architectural landscape.”

Chourouk Hriech, Galerie Anne-Sarah Bénichou at Art Dubai 2019

Gözde İlkin (Turkey, 1981), represented by Gypsum Gallery, Cairo

Gözde İlkin’s landscapes repurpose domestic fabrics, incorporating motifs and images and using objects as memory triggers. She reworks the material arrangement of loose layers of paint and embroidery threads.

“Her artworks manipulate border, gender dynamics and urban transformation, blurring the notion of ‘home’ and ‘global village’. The narrative never fully unfolds; body-geographies are between humans and non-humans, including ‘thought clouds’ that are playful at times, questioning at others.

“İlkin’s body-geographies become a symbol of resistance and emancipation and will resonate with collectors interested in works that question belonging.”

Gözde İlkin, Gypsum Gallery at Art Dubai 2019

Wanja Kimani (Kenya, 1968), represented by Guzo Art Project, Addis Ababa

“In her intimate practice Wanja Kimani weaves stories exploring and reflecting upon the fragility of memory, imagination and loss and trauma in relation to migration.

“Her three-part installation embodies the context of the Atlantic Slavery through the landscape of the female body. She uses objects of memory, fragility and vulnerability. The installation is an emotionally-loaded experience, yet delicate and powerful too.”

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Wanja Kimani, Guzo Art Projects at Art Dubai 2019

Marcelo Moscheta (Brazil, 1976), represented by Galeria Vermelho, São Paulo

Marcelo Moscheta reinterprets narratives through compositions of fictional territories. These works are conceived as places of perfection, utopias. The artist particularly incorporates elements such as telluric rocks, graphite for his drawings in 2D, 3D or other mediums.

“The artist aims to research boundaries and limits to territories and ancestral memory recourses. The creations’ titles revealed historical contexts and politically significant at the global level. For collectors, who quest the notions of monuments and the symbolic landscapes.”

Marcelo Moscheta, Galeria Vermelho at Art Dubai 2019

Sérgio Sister (Brazil, 1949), represented by Galerie Emmanuel Hervé, Paris

Sérgio Sister is a visionary painter and witness of several political regimes. During the 1960s, he developed a body of colourful drawings of satirical caricatures when he was imprisoned for a year and half. Intuition is an integral part of his paintings as well as his careful studies of colours, black pigments and light.

“From the 1980s, Sister’s shift to minimalist paintings questioned the traditional. Colour and light became a concrete experience. Abstraction allowed him to free the narration. The crate deconstructs the notion of canvas with its beams that allow for play on space and shadow.

“He refuses simplicity: ‘arts minimal require a minimum of sensitive presence without embodying idea of the project to be better understood’ says Sister. His three-dimensional paintings become poetics of everyday life,” said Atangana.

Sérgio Sister, Galerie Emmanuel Herve at Art Dubai 2019

Adeela Suleman (Pakistan, 1970), represented by Aicon Contemporary, New York

“Since her university days, Adeela Suleman’s interests include contemporary socio-political, gender, and Pakistani society. She explores interwoven notions like religion, state, private, public, from and function and subjects such as memorials, tomb and funerals as rituals and the earthly fears like transcendental, subjective and relief.

“Her stainless steel sculptures, the curtains shown by her gallery, use repetitive motifs with symbolic meaning. A dead sparrow, for example, a metaphor for incriminate and deadly violence in her native Karachi. Suleman’s work will appeal to collectors who are inspired by ornament as a symbol of resistance,” ends Atangana.

Adeela Suleman, Aicon Contemporary at Art Dubai 2019

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