The tug of war and the chaos of life: On solo shows in Dubai

 Pouran Jinchi. The Red Line, 2017. Copper, brass and enamel paint. Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line.

Pouran Jinchi. The Red Line, 2017. Copper, brass and enamel paint. Courtesy of the artist and The Third Line.

Among the line up of new exhibitions set to open in Dubai in September, are three solo shows from distinctly different artists exploring a regional aesthetic.

At The Third Line, Pouran Jinchi (b. Mashad, Iran, 1959) uses her measured process to dissect the echoes of near constant military activity that play out as a backdrop to most of our lives. The Line of March is a new body of work, which has developed out of two years of research focused on the military influences upon our language – whether that be spoken vocabulary, written word or visually in fashion and art. She has created her own code system, based on the colours uses and has also extended her practice from painted enamel tiles, to sculptures and installation.

Personally, I enjoy Jinchi’s exploration of language and her gentle way of presentation that warrants contemplation and offers deep interpretation. I also love her choice of titles. In this case, the wording comes from an 18th century French painting by Jean-Antoine Watteau who depicted common soldiers during wartime.

Over at Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde, Ramin Haerizadeh (b. Tehran, Iran, 1975) will be having a solo show. In almost complete opposition to Jinchi, Haerizadeh’s practice is bold, loud and absurd. Where Jinchi distills and purifies her language, Haerizadeh dives into his pieces with excess. This exhibition, which has another fabulous title extracted from a poem by Wislawa Szymborska - To Be or Not To Be, That Is the Question. And Though, It Troubles Digestion - is a collection of collage photographic works and films, which cannot be placed into one category. Haerizadeh is interested in the plethora of images and situations that saturate our everyday lives and from them, creating absurd situations or abstracted compositions that highlight the way imagery is easily manipulated.

 Ramin Haerizadeh. First Rain's Always a Surprise, 2017. Paper collage and colour pencil on paper. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery IVDE.

Ramin Haerizadeh. First Rain's Always a Surprise, 2017. Paper collage and colour pencil on paper. Courtesy of the artist and Gallery IVDE.

Although the resulting artworks are poles apart, both artists are interested in the infiltration into our ways of communication.

At Ayyam Gallery, Mohannad Orabi (b. Damascus, Syria, 1977) uses the more traditional medium of painting to present a series of portraits. Until now, Orabi’s paintings have used figures to tell the story of the horrors of war. The large, weeping eyes of his subjects narrated untold stories of the Syrian war and family portraits cloaked in shadows revealed the tragedy of lives lost. Unlike the other two artists mentioned, Orabi’s is a very personal story.

With his new show, Ripples, he has returned to colour and his chosen imagery invokes his memories of Syria before the war. He has also built up the surfaces of his canvases with layers of sand, which refer to his new life in the UAE and the years that have passed since he left Damascus.

Whilst there are few visual similarities between these three solo shows, when viewed in succession, several threads that underpin the regional aesthetic can be identified. The undercurrents of war are tugging away at them, while the chaos of daily life spills its way over the top. There is also a strong sense of experimentation in all three and therefore, three distinct voices emerge.

 Mohannad Orabi. Untitled, 2017. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery

Mohannad Orabi. Untitled, 2017. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy of the artist and Ayyam Gallery

  • Pouran Jinchi: The Line of March. The Third Line. September 13 – October 21, 2017.
  • Ramin Haerizadeh: To Be or Not To Be, That Is the Question. And Though, It Troubles Digestion. Gallery Isabelle Van Den Eynde. September 13 – November 2, 2017.
  • Mohannad Orabi: Ripples. Ayyam Gallery. September 13 – October 26, 2017.