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Art Dubai 2011, Stand A37    Mar 16 - Mar 19, 2011

Ayyam Gallery’s diverse selection of painting and sculpture for this year’s Art Dubai represents a wide spectrum of contemporary Arab art with significant examples by Khaled Takreti, Mustafa Ali, Nadim Karam, Samia Halaby and Safwan Dahoul, underscoring some of the major innovations and trends that have come to define regional visual culture.

The portraits of Paris-based Syrian artist Khaled Takreti are executed with great attention to formulistic detail. Takreti’s deeply psychological subjects exist within a delicate setting, as thin lines dissect the composition into horizontal and vertical planes against solid color fields. While his earlier works possess a quiet force as they represent elegant and demure women, his latest canvases have become increasingly campy, with a refreshing sense of freedom and playfulness.

The anonymous figure of “Untitled,” a recent work by Syrian sculptor Mustafa Ali, emanates with an air of mystery that runs parallel to overt underpinnings of introspection. Nameless, genderless, and bodiless, his decapitated head is shown with its eyes closed, lost in contemplation as though retreating from an entangled world. Executed with the exquisite precision of Ali’s hand, its solemn face is expressively emphatic.

Avant-garde Lebanese architect, designer and artist Nadim Karam traverses several disciplines in colorful paintings and sculptures that blend the real with the magical, offering a stable of inspired creatures and characters amidst utopian settings that question and reconfigure our modern state.

The vivid collages of Palestinian artist Samia Halaby exemplify the astounding degree to which the seasoned artist has merged the creative with the political, employing an acute sense of formulism that continues to push the boundaries of painting while deconstructing how we understand (and depict) the world. With large pieces of canvas that have been painted, cut, then arranged into abstractions, she places a heavy emphasis on palette, brushwork and surface to create floating forms that teem with movement and energy.

Continuing an evocative series of paintings that has evolved over several decades, Syrian painter Safwan Dahoul captures his lone heroine with a deep sense of solitude and foreboding. By depicting his elegant protagonist amidst a claustrophobic setting with the sharp edges of ordinary objects and abrupt lines of architectural details, he accentuates the highly psychological overtones of his subject, creating a complex spatiality that enthralls the viewer.

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