TABARI ARTSPACE, DUBAI IS CURRENTLY SHOWCASING THE SILK ROAD, A SOLO EXHIBITION BY THE EGYPTIAN ARTIST MOHAMED ABLA
Tabari Artspace, Dubai is currently showcasing The Silk Road, a solo exhibition by the Egyptian artist Mohamed Abla
Maliha Al Tabari is the managing director of Tabari Artspace Gallery that has been in operation for a decade now. Having completed her graduation from California and higher studies from Florida, Maliha — a painter and sculptor herself — felt the urge to promote Middle Eastern art both in the region and abroad.
“Passion is the pivotal element in any field and the key to successfully working with artists,’’ she observes.
The current event at Tabari Artspace is an art exhibition titled The Silk Road, a solo exhibition by Mohamed Abla, one of Egypt’s most noted and reputed contemporary artists.
“My work in this series is all about narratives and I have drawn my inspiration from my research into the history of Silk Road and my recent travels to India, Syria and Iraq. Travelling opens your eyes to the beauty around you and the world becomes one large canvas,’’ says Abla.
Speaking to Panorama about Artspace, Maliha sheds light on the art scene in the UAE and cues for collectors to choose right. Mohamed Abla retains the focus on The Silk Route and his exhibits, and speaks with the passion of an artist who lives and breathes his craft.
Maliha in conversation with Panorama…
What prompted your interest in art and the decision to open an art gallery?
Once I completed my education, I realised I can have a voice back home to nurture artists, tell their stories and give them a platform on which to be heard. My goal has been to create great-
er awareness about Middle Eastern art scene internationally. When I started in 2003, there was no platform or place for the artists to grow and be seen. But now there is a shift seen where artists from our region are recognised both in the East and the West, with their works being showcased at international biennales, museums and foundations.
What are the key points for collectors to remember while purchasing an artwork?
There are three key points to bear in mind when a young amateur collector is planning to buy an art piece. First, buy a piece that you have absolutely fallen in love with. Secondly, ensure the artist has a certain recognisable style. Thirdly, invest in a work that will retain a good long-term value.
What would be your message to aspiring artists in the UAE?
Never compare yourself to anyone else; be true to yourself; address criticism in a positive way and try to learn from mistakes. Above all, stay committed and focused on what you believe in.
What are future plans in the gallery’s calendar?
I represent two wellknown luxury publishers in this region: Taschen and Assouline, who are forces to reckon with in the art arena. They are the leading publishers for some amazing art coffee table books. I just launched an art platform called Alternative
Space, which is a story telling platform that serves clients through consultancy.
Mohamed Abla speaks about The Silk Road…
What is The Silk Road’ all about and can you explain the choice of this title?
Silk Road includes a selection of abstract artworks which synthesise calligraphy, collage and traditional Middle Eastern techniques. Besides, it explores folktales from North Africa, the Levant, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.
How would you best describe your art technique?
For The Silk Road series, I have used the Turkish Ebru technique (paper marbling), which is the act of floating paper in a tray filled with water and oil paint. The paint is then carefully transferred to the surface of paper to create colourful marblelike patterns. From the various dyed papers, I cut out shapes, arranging them into compositions resembling animals, heroes, princesses and other folktale figures and imagined scenes derived from the ancient Silk Road network.
What is your favourite medium?
I do not stick to one medium for I like exploring different techniques. Besides, I often use a combination of my own collages, combining them with colours, calligraphy and different elements.
Among the current exhibits, which one sends across an impacting message?
The piece that depicts a girl in the garden has diverse elements in it. It creates a visual scene, imaginary characters and there is a story lurking in there for each to give his or her own connotation to it.
Mohamed Abla, one of Egypt’s most reputed contemporary artists.
The Silk Road exhibits explore folktales from North Africa, the Levant, Central Asia and the Indian subcontinent.