Is­lamic Art Fes­ti­val blooms like the mu­ral of a spir­i­tual gar­den

Gulf Today - - ARTS & CULTURE - Muham­mad Yusuf, Fea­tures Writer

SHAR­JAH: Un­der the theme Prospect, Maraya Art Cen­tre, Shar­jah, has an­nounced its ex­tended year-end pro­gramme to Feb. 22, 2020 as part of the 22nd edi­tion of the Shar­jah Is­lamic Arts Fes­ti­val.

In ad­di­tion to Bloom, a solo ex­hi­bi­tion by renowned Chi­nese artist Li Hongbo, the cen­tre is also host­ing Arc ZERO, by James Tap­scott and The Spirit of The City, by Ahmed Kar­aly.

Maraya Art Cen­tre has also un­veiled two new Jedariyahs (Mu­rals) in Al Qasba, Shar­jah, Mu­ral II by Egyp­tian duo Magdy El Kafrawy and Mo­hamed Ab­del Aziz and The Ge­o­met­ri­cal Gar­den by Danila Chauzi.

In­spired by the preva­lence of water in Is­lamic ar­chi­tec­ture and gar­den de­sign, Aus­tralian artist Tap­scott de­vised an in­stal­la­tion that aims to cre­ate a unique spa­tial ex­pe­ri­ence.

Arc ZERO re­flects the im­pact of Is­lamic art on the artist’s prac­tice, ex­plor­ing the im­pact of ma­te­ri­al­ity and tex­ture on the au­di­ence ex­pe­ri­ence, through the cre­ation of an in­ter­ac­tive ex­pe­ri­ence that presents the ma­te­ri­als in an un­fa­mil­iar way.

The ex­hi­bi­tion en­gages with each in­di­vid­ual sense to cre­ate an awak­en­ing of the senses, fos­ter­ing a new ap­pre­ci­a­tion for our nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment and ques­tion­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of tex­ture in the fa­cil­i­ta­tion of an ex­pe­ri­ence.

Com­posed of eight lay­ers of chif­fon fabric that en­gage with a fixed source of still light, The Spirit of The City is both an in­stal­la­tion that ques­tions the def­i­ni­tions of a sculp­ture by us­ing light as the main ma­te­rial.

Egyp­tian artist Kar­aly cre­ates a dif­fer­ent sculp­ture each year that de­picts his in­ter­pre­ta­tion of that year’s spirit. For 2019, the artist chose light, as it rep­re­sents strength in times of prayer and labour, to rep­re­sent the spirit of the year.

The chif­fon lay­ers are shaped uniquely in eight un­even lay­ers that also rep­re­sent Kar­aly’s in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the his­tory of Is­lamic ar­chi­tec­ture.

Cu­rated by Joa­line Frizzell, Bloom presents pa­per sculp­tures of guns and bul­lets, by Chi­nese artist Hongbo, un­furled in a flo­ral, poly­chro­matic geo­met­ric ar­range­ment in­spired by the pat­terns preva­lent in tra­di­tional Is­lamic art.

Hongbo’strans­for­ma­tionoftool­sofde­struc­tion into a vi­brant and del­i­cate land­scape pro­vokes ques­tions of es­tab­lished con­cep­tions, re­mov­ing neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tions and in­still­ing a sense of op­ti­mism for a peace­ful fu­ture.

An artist who works across draw­ing, street art and in­stal­la­tion, Chauzi has spent over a decade de­vel­op­ing a unique three-di­men­sional graf­fiti tech­nique. The Russian artist’s prac­tice is in­spired by his child­hood in Moscow, sur­rounded by graf­fiti and the city’s vi­brant visual cul­ture.

His work, The Ge­o­met­ri­cal Gar­den, was de­signed to trans­port its au­di­ence on a sa­far­i­like jour­ney through a se­ries of draw­ings and has been in­stalled on the ex­te­rior of Block D, Al Qasba.

Mak­ing their re­turn to the Shar­jah Is­lamic Art Fes­ti­val, Egyp­tian duo El Kafrawy and Aziz were com­mis­sioned to cre­ate a sec­ond Jedariyah in Al Qasba. Lo­cated across the canal from their orig­i­nal work, the artists’ work ex­plores Ara­bic cal­lig­ra­phy through a con­tem­po­rary lens, by mak­ing use of acrylic brushes and paints, ropes and can­vas, to present a new per­spec­tive on the de­vel­op­ment of con­tem­po­rary Ara­bic cal­lig­ra­phy de­sign and in­stal­la­tion.

Arc ZERO and The Spirit of The City are both open to the pub­lic on the sec­ond floor of Maraya Art Cen­tre and will run till Jan. 21, 2020; Bloom is open to the pub­lic on the third floor of Maraya Art Cen­tre and will run un­til Feb. 22, 2020.

“Li Hongbo has care­fully adapted his work here to the lo­cal con­text”, says Dr Nina Hey­de­mann, Di­rec­tor, Maraya Art Cen­tre. “Re­sem­bling an Is­lamic gar­den, the third floor of our build­ing is rem­i­nis­cent of what one calls a “trompe l’oeil”, an “eye trap” that chal­lenges the vis­i­tor to take a closer look.

“Pa­per is the ma­te­rial of these bend­able sculp­tures and their three di­men­sion­al­i­ties, hap­tics and thick­nesses make us be­lieve that we are look­ing at ma­te­ri­als which are much denser than pa­per, such as stone, wood or resin.

“Also, the sub­ject mat­ter that Li Hongbo has se­lected plays with de­lib­er­ate con­trasts – hav­ing cho­sen guns, bul­lets and AK ri­fles for the in­stal­la­tion, in this ren­di­tion, they indeed turn into har­mo­niously ar­ranged, bright and colourful forms that are se­duc­tively pleasing to the eye”.

Says Frizzell: “By evok­ing feel­ings of har­mony and op­ti­mism, Li’s work is not in­tended to down­play the sig­nif­i­cance of war, but rather to act as an al­le­gory of power and sub­vert sym­bols of power into sym­bols of beauty”.

Es­tab­lished in 2006, Maraya Art Cen­tre is a non-profit cre­ative or­gan­i­sa­tion lo­cated in Shar­jah. It of­fers pro­grammes through mul­ti­fac­eted ini­tia­tives and pub­lic out­reach ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing work­shops, lec­tures, talks and other art re­lated events.

The cen­tre strives to sup­port emerg­ing artists by pro­vid­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for growth through re­search, ex­hi­bi­tion and project de­vel­op­ment.

The an­nual Is­lamic Arts Fes­ti­val be­gan in 1998 un­der the su­per­vi­sion and or­gan­i­sa­tion of the Direc­torate of Art in the De­part­ment of Cul­ture and In­for­ma­tion, with the in­ten­tion of ex­hibit­ing var­i­ous kinds of tra­di­tional and con­tem­po­rary Is­lamic arts.

Over its con­sec­u­tive edi­tions, the fes­ti­val has been able to dis­play dif­fer­ent vi­brant styles of Is­lamic art through projects, il­lus­trat­ing the authen­tic­ity of Is­lamic art and its abil­ity to keep pace with cur­rent artis­tic changes.

It is one of the most renowned Is­lamic art events in the re­gion, and its agenda in­cludes lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional ex­hi­bi­tions, in­tel­lec­tual pro­grammes and in­ter­ac­tive ac­tiv­i­ties.

↑ Li Hongbo’s in­stal­la­tion Bloom is adapted to the lo­cal con­text of an Is­lamic gar­den. ↑ A de­tailed view of Li Hongbo’s cre­ation, Bloom.

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