Scale and symmetry in the MENA region
The architectural aesthetics of the Arab world are the focus of a new exhibition at The Galleria, Al Maryah Island. Award-winning photographer Mark Luscombe-Whyte will present the Architectural Digest (AD) Middle East exhibition featuring 38 curated images from his body of work in the region.
The striking images, which are a combination of facades, interiors, portraits and abstracts, were carefully selected to emphasise the unique beauty of the region, its structures, people and stories they tell. The British photographer, who has been based in France for 12 years, has worked with the international magazine and design authority since it started. What the public will see in this exhibit is a combination of old and new works taken from the capital and the table books he has authored.
“In very simple words, I like the geometry in Arabic art and interiors. There’s a symmetry I really enjoy. I was attracted to it because it was incredibly visual, welcoming and an interesting environment to work in,” he says of the appeal of Islamic architecture.
His broad spectrum of commissioned jobs has taken him to Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Qatar, Kuwait and UAE, where he has seen amazing things rise up from the sand. He said: “Someone asked me to sum it up in a sentence, and all I can say is the region is on architectural steroids. “All over the UAE there have been extraordinary structures coming up.” Among them is the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, which was an important shoot for Mark. He says: “Normally, I would request a day, but I requested two days for this because it’s a complicated space. I really wanted to photograph it well. It was a tedious two days for them. “The lights in the region are beautiful, but can turn harsh quickly, so I wanted two dawns and two sunsets. It was quite an immense shoot, the art director had a pedometer in her pocket and for two days we walked nearly 30km around the mosque.” Mark says architectural and design photography need not be complicated, but like any art, it needs the right eye and effort: “It boils down to the essence of the building and it takes time to do. I think we photographed the mosque in a very minimal way. “We also sometimes use small figures in the picture to give it a sense of scale. For
me, the main shot was the domes and two minarets (main photo). To me that is a very beautiful and simple image.”
Photography, he says, is a very selfish occupation, but he wants to share this visual experience and reveal the man who fell in love with this part of the world.
Mark says: “What I really want is people take a little bit inspiration from the imagery, possibly make them think or engage them. The portraits have a lot of resonance, they’re almost like treasured memories. Lots of them were taken 20 years ago when I was a young man. It takes me back to more peaceful time, there was a lot more optimism in the world at that particular moment.
“The contemporary images of interiors, they’re records showing how much the region and the UAE have developed.” email@example.com
INSIDE: Crystal chandelier ICONIC: The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Mark LuscombeWhyte’s exhibit runs until December 6 at The Galleria MOROCCO: Ministero del Gusto stairs and The Mosque of Tinmel
ABLUTION: A guest bathroom in the home of Prince Faisal bin Sattam Abdulaziz Al Saud