Sculptures and the stories they tell

Jyoti Kalsi, Gulf News, 30 November 2019
Influences from Venice and Zimbabwean artist’s stone works that express realities of life
 WKR 191128 Dominic Benhura signing a finished work.-1575110915049


DUBAI Over the last decade, interest in sculpture has grown worldwide. This is reflected in the focus on this art form at major art fairs, exhibitions and institutions as well as in sales at auctions. Echoing this trend, many galleries in Dubai are hosting sculpture exhibitions during the current art season, which opened in mid-November. Green Art Gallery is presenting Chaouki Choukini’s abstract wood sculptures, and Meem Gallery is showcasing black granite sculptures by Armen Agop. Reza Aramesh’s figurative sculptures are on display at Leila Heller Dubai, and Amba Sayal-Bennett is showing sculptures crafted from steel, wood and foam at Carbon 12 gallery. At El Marsa, Atef Maatallah has experimented with stone mosaics, and Hamra Abbas is exhibiting marble inlay works at Lawrie Shabibi.

In a major public art exhibition, DIFC has collaborated with Dubai based art consultancy 71Structural Art to open the inaugural edition of the DIFC Sculpture Park, featuring sculptures by 10 well-known local and international sculptors. This week we look at two exhibitions featuring sculptures made from very different materials — Venice goes to Dubai at Akka Project showcasing Murano glass sculptures from Italy, and Between Me and the Stone, a group exhibition of Shona stone sculptures from Zimbabwe at Showcase Gallery.


Venice Goes to Dubai

This show is part of an initiative by Akka Project, which has spaces in Dubai and Venice, to foster a dynamic cultural dialogue between the two cities. As a first step, the gallery has brought to Dubai works by two acclaimed Venetian artists, painter Davide Battistin and Murano glass sculptor Mauro Bonaventura. Both artists use classical Venetian art and craft techniques to create contemporary artworks and are known for their skilful use of light and colour.

Battistin’s poetic paintings depict his city’s distinctive landscape and the lagoon on a foggy day. The pale golden light shining through the shroud of fog gives them a dreamy, mystical quality. On the other hand, Bonaventura’s shimmering transparent glass sculptures invite viewers to look deep into an inner world. The sculptor is a master of the technique of lampworking and pushes the possibilities of his delicate, ductile and difficult material to the limit, manipulating the glass to create complex forms and figures pulsating with life and movement. Keeping in mind Dubai’s glamorous image and lofty ambitions, the artist has created a pair of red glass stilettoes especially for this show. It is a tribute by an artist from a historic trading and art centre to a city poised to be the economic and cultural hub of the future.


Venice Goes to Dubai, Akka Project, Al Quoz. Until January 11, 2020.


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