Exhibitions : Art Dubai 2017 – Booth M7 – Modern Section

Art Dubai is held under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai

Art Dubai is an international art fair with roots in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. The eleventh edition of Art Dubai takes place March 15-18, 2017 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

The fourth edition of Art Dubai Modern presents museum-quality works by masters from the Middle-East, South Asia and Africa, whose work has been influential throughout the 20th century. The section will present 15 galleries with solo or two-artist exhibits.

Intangible Presence

In a desert landscape, natural features become ambiguous and misleading. Structures emerge from the horizon, obscured by haze, distance and colour. Hills and caves appear like suggestions, perhaps real, perhaps not.
The hidden features of nature are the foundation of much of Wijdan’s landscape work, washes of colour in which shadows and brush strokes hint at the presence of mountains or cliffs. Wijdan’s paintings seek out what’s half-hidden, but half-visible; the work of an artist unusually perceptive to the details of land and culture and hungry to expose them.

The concerns of Ahmad Nawash’s paintings, on the other hand, do not have to be sought by the artist: what’s invisible but always, oppressively present is given material form in his work. In contrast to Wijdan, who reflects her inner feelings, Nawash expresses the socio-political situation at the time. Over decades, the Palestinian-Jordanian artist articulates the agony of conflict and dispossession with increasing precision, and the abstract, dark shapes of his 1960s work gradually evolve into human forms, bent under unspoken burdens and contorted into disturbing arrangements. In Nawash’s work individuals appear to be self-contained receptacles of their own stories, yet they also convey a pain beyond the lines of their bodies and facial features. Viewing the chronology of his work, one is struck with the sense that Nawash has created a progressively sharp

articulation of individual and collective pain, the bounds of which fall just beyond what it is possible to manifest on canvas.

Both Nawash and Wijdan are pioneers in modern art of the region. As a patron of the arts in Jordan, Ali was the Dean of the University of Jordan’s College of Art and Design, the founder of the Kingdom’s Royal Society of Fine Arts and Jordan’s National Gallery. Ali also oversees Islamic art preservation and exhibitions at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London (SOAS). She was also the first to recognize Nawash‘s expressionist style, his spontaneity and the naïvety with which he portrays darkness and contradiction.

In this twin collection of works, both artists give form to very different kinds of intangible presence. Ali depicts what is hidden in the landscape in Jordan; Nawash gives form to a shared suffering that’s felt but not uttered. Both articulate what is hinted at, gesturing beyond lines at what is ever-present but rarely given shape.