Archive for the ‘Events’ category

Khalid Al Gharaballi : Poor Image


The title of the exhibition is taken from German artist Hito Steyerl’s 2009 essay “In Defense of the Poor Image.” In it she says: “The poor image is a copy in motion. It’s quality is bad, it’s resolution substandard. As it accelerates, it deteriorates. It is a ghost of an image, a preview, a thumbnail, an errant idea, an itinerant image distributed for free, squeezed through slow digital connections, compressed, reproduced, ripped, remixed, as well as copied and pasted into other channels of distribution…The poor image is a rag or a rip; an AVI or a JPEG, a lumpen proletarian in the class society of appearances.”

While Steyerl was referring to sharpness and resolution as indicators for placement within the hierarchy of images, the subject matter for this group of paintings isn’t focused solely on the clarity and quality of the source image but also on it’s geographical and historical origin. A low resolution thumbnail of a house found on a Kuwaiti real estate website, a blurry photo of a floor-bound sectional divan posted – years ago – on a now abandoned online Saudi forum, images where practicality rules and aesthetics are of no consequence and whose intended audience is limited to it’s geographical origin. While existing on the fringes of our collective online consumption, these images are inadvertently documenting the domestic landscapes of the Gulf.

This is Khalid al Gharaballi’s first solo exhibition after first establishing a duo practice with Fatima Al Qadiri and then co-founding GCC, the artist collective whose work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, the Sharjah Art Foundation, the New Museum, the Fridericianum, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

Omar Khouri : Tensile Modulus


Abstraction and representation; self and other; science and art; geometric structures and natural shapes; autonomous units and parts of the whole; the suspended present moment and the perpetual flow of time… Our world is filled with dualities that pull at our lives in opposing directions, creating the tensile forces that move us forward. Taking the tension between the artist’s Arab cultural background and his Western one as its departure point, “Tensile Modulus” is a series of portrait experiments exploring the opposing concepts that suspend each of us in our unique and lonely spot in the infinite net of being that paradoxically connects us all.


Omar Khouri was born in London in 1978, but spent his childhood in Lebanon. In 2002, he graduated from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston with a BFA in illustration. Back in Beirut in 2006, Omar cofounded Samandal Comics Magazine, the first experimental comics periodical in the Arab world. He is currently an Editor of Samandal and one of its many international contributing artists. Omar’s work spans many art forms including painting, comics, animation, theater, film, and music.

Ammar Al Attar : Sibeel Water


An article in the National Geographic titled, Water, The Age of Scarcity Begins, inspired Ammar Al Attar to do a project about water.  Moved by the fact that our most basic necessity is a scarce and precious resource, the artist chose the UAE in which to explore the contradictory notion that water is often given away for free; remaining easily accessible and freely available to many.  In his study of this paradox, Al Attar investigates two pivotal questions: is the notion of giving away free water increasing out of conscious necessity? Or, is it simply that an urbanized people have forgotten the importance of conservation? Al Attar visits various UAE neighborhoods to observe different types of water coolers.

The artist captures different types of coolers in different spaces.  The most commonly used steel-box coolers are specially made using mosaics by a charitable organization in collaboration with an Islamic architect. They occupy a distinct space outside private homes and mosques.  The artist’s most unique subject was a bench with different taps, stationed outside a mansion in Um Al Quwain. People with large jars crowded the area, in the wait of water. The crowds grew so large that the owner of the house scheduled specific hours for water collection, so that he may have enough time to refill his tanks Al Attar presents his “Sibeel Water” series on a pressingly current issue to emphasize the scarcity of water and the importance of sustaining our most precious element.

This exhibition is in collaboration with Cuadro Gallery, Dubai.

About the Artist:

Ammar Al Attar was born in Dubai in 1981 and currently lives and works in the United Arab Emirate of Ajman. He holds a Masters in International Business from the University of Wollongong in Dubai and a Bachelor in Business Information Technology from Dubai’s Higher Colleges of Technology.

He has attended a number of photography courses both in the UAE and abroad and is a member of the International Federation of Photographic Art (FIAP), the Photographic Society of America (PSA), and the Abu Dhabi International Photographic Society (ADIPS). Al Attar’s work has been shown in various group exhibitions in the UAE, including Emirati Expressions and the Thessaloniki Museum in Greece in 2011. In 2013 he exhibited at the Sharjah Biennale, Athr Gallery (Jeddah) and Riwaq Bahrain. Al Attar’s ‘Prayer Room’ series can be found in the collection of the Sharjah Art Foundation.




COMPLICITY  is a group exhibition curated by Aleya Hamza in collaboration with Gypsum Gallery, Cairo, Egypt.

Within a few days he showed me the contact sheet. “This one has the magic,” he said.

When I look at it now, I never see me. I see us.

This exhibition is inspired by the quote from “Just Kids”, a memoir penned by the poet, artist and singer Patti Smith about her complicated and intimate relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe. The quote refers to a black and white photographic portrait he shot of her for the cover of her first album in 1975.  Smith’s words suggest that artists are often present in their works even when they are not the subjects.

Featuring video, photography, photomontage, painting and drawing, the show brings together a group of works in which artist and subject are inextricably bound. Many of the works stem from a private story, a recurring memory or an intense personal experience. They compress and translate, through the physical form of an artwork, intangible desires and vulnerabilities.  Because of the introspective and psychological nature of the work, they often trigger in the viewer a sense of unease, as if they are seeing or partaking in something that is not quite legitimate. And often, beneath the veneer of the personal revelations, more complex and collective power relations reveal themselves.

Artists :

Doa Aly , Jumana Manna, Mahmoud Khaled, Nermine Hammam, Setareh Shahbazi, Shady Elnoshokaty and Tamara Al Samerai.

Exhibition dates: 19th January – 24th February,  2016


Mohammed Al Kouh – Four Hands Can’t Clap


Sultan Gallery is pleased to present ‘Four Hands Can’t Clap’ an exhibition of hand-colored photographs by Kuwaiti artist Mohammed AlKouh.

“Four Hands Can’t Clap” is born out of an investigation on the human desire of love. Originally, AlKouh set out to Syrian refugee camps to document the triumph of romance in a war inflicted circumstance. However, what he discovered was a series of broken love stories very similar to ones we experience outside of conflict. Greed, betrayal, and adultery led to the heartbreak of stealthy men, who survived the war in Syria but have not survived the haunt of their beloved.

AlKouh works to capture the memory of happiness and hope in these men who are numbed by stories of conflict but touched by the memory of their loved one.

Four Hands Can’t Clap plays on the Arabic expression “One hand can’t clap”. Despite the war torn conditions of these portraits, there seems to exist a prevalence of common heartbreak stories. The human need for love is once again defeated by family values, social expectations, and economic motivations. If love were to conquer all, then perhaps we would not have reached this place to begin with.

About the Artist :

Born in 1984, Mohammed Al Kouh lives and works in Kuwait. AlKouh is a self-taught artist who has explored different aspects of art since childhood.

After graduating from Kuwait University with BA in Business Administration & Marketing, AlKouh took his passion to a new level. As a child he was captivated with the idea of “Stealing Souls and Keeping Them in Negatives” so he began to photograph everything he wished not to lose. Photography became his way to steal his favorite moments in life and keep them in his closet. Growing up he developed a great nostalgia to an era he never lived, an era where everything was romantic and beautiful. With the sensitive technique of hand coloring black and white photographs he traveled back to that time by creating staged realities that give a contrast between past and present.

“In Dreams you’re always more beautiful than reality. You’re always happy and with the ones you love, and no one can hurt you… ” – Mohammed AlKouh.

Still : Hendrik Kerstens & Robert Polidori


Sultan Gallery is pleased to present Still an exhibition of photographs by Hendrik Kerstens (Dutch) and Robert Polidori (Canadian) curated by Miami Beach based art dealer Mark Dean.

In the immortal words of William Faulkner, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” This exhibition brings together two artists who explore how we understand the past through the present. Both employ photography in ways that deliberately subvert conventional notions about the photograph’s relationship to reality. Instead of capturing a “decisive moment” or freezing a slice of time, they adopt the language of classical painting to explore a more layered sense of history.  This results in images that appear to exist simultaneously in the past and present.

Hendrik Kerstens achieves this feat by drawing on his Dutch heritage. He photographs his daughter using painterly lighting, poses and costumes that deliberately evoke the portraits of Dutch Golden Age painters like Johannes Vermeer and Frans Hals.  Presented so that her porcelain features emerge luminously from plain dark backdrops, Paula Kerstens locks the viewer in a timeless gaze that might have emerged from seventeenth century Holland. But a closer look at these photographs reveals historical anomalies.  They are composed with contemporary props: Such objects as white plastic or pink tissue paper have been skillfully manipulated to suggest details of period costumes. And because Kerstens has been pursuing this subject for twenty years, we also see time unfold in a literal way as the fresh-faced young girl matures into a beautiful young woman.

Robert Polidori layers history in another way. A photographer renowned for disturbingly beautiful studies of subjects like post Katrina New Orleans, the crumbling elegance of contemporary Havana or the abandoned schools, offices and homes destroyed by the Chernobyl nuclear accident, he here presents the works that set him on his path.  Beginning in 1985 and continuing for the next twenty years, Polidori documented the ongoing restoration of the 17th century Palace of Versailles. His photographs from this series have the scale and architectural sweep of history paintings, and like Kerstens, he uses light and color to underscore the images’ painterly aura. But instead of providing narrative dramas, his photographs are peopled by a disconcerting mix of construction materials, upended royal portrait paintings, security cameras and discolored walls. In place of the clarity we expect from a museum presentation, historical distances are collapsed and jumbled. Taking us behind the scenes, Polidori offers a case study of the way that historical consciousness is constructed.

Still, the title of this show, points to a double meaning. On one hand, it captures a contemplative serenity that links these images to the painterly traditions of a less hurried time. But the word also suggests a vision of time in which the past is embedded in the present:  still here, still living, still relevant. Kerstens and Polidori meld painting and photography, history and contemporary life, fact and fiction to suggest the ways that memory is forever being shaped and reshaped by the imagination.

About the curator:

Mark Dean established DEAN PROJECT gallery with the opening of the public gallery in September 2007. DEAN PROJECT’s original gallery location consisted of a 2,000-sqft gallery building located directly beside the P.S.1/MoMA Museum in Long Island City NY. In October 2010, after three years in LIC, the gallery relocated to 511 West 25th Street in Manhattan. After six years in NYC the gallery has relocated to Miami Beach Florida.

Over the past eight years DEAN PROJECT has exhibited around the world at over sixty contemporary art fairs. From the time the gallery opened the public program has consisted of fifty public gallery exhibitions to date including solo, group and annual independent curated summer invitational.

Exhibition Dates : 6th – 29th October, 2015


Hunt Slonem : New Species


‘New Species’ is a solo exhibition by acclaimed American abstract painter Hunt Slonem who is best known for his paintings of tropical birds and butterflies, inspired by his personal aviary in which he keeps more than one hundred live birds of various species. His work depicts a reverence for exotic life forms, birds, butterflies and flowers.  Once a painting has been completed with visual stories and compositional balancing acts, he inscribes the surface with a furiously cross-hatched mesh of lines, cutting through the rich oil to give an abstract, painterly and tactile effect with an implied impression of spatial depth. His jarring color choices, spontaneous mark making and scratched hatch marks are the result of his ongoing fascination with the manipulation and implementation of paint.

This exhibition is in collaboration with Cuadro Gallery, Dubai.

About Hunt Slonem:

Hunt Slonem was born in Maine in 1951. He received his BA from Tulane University in Louisiana and then studied painting at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine. His obsessive rendering of his subjects reflects his desire to explore issues of spatial complexity, compression and density in what acclaimed curator Henry Geldzahler deemed, “a consistent investigation of post-cubist abstraction” (1993). Since 1977, Slonem has soloed in over 250 exhibitions at prestigious galleries. His work is exhibited globally and is held in the collections of over 70 international museums. Slonem currently lives and works in New York City.

About Cuadro Gallery:

Founded in 2008, Cuadro Gallery, located in the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), has quickly become one of the UAE’s premier contemporary and modern art venues. Each year, Cuadro assembles a substantial curatorial program in four distinct visual areas of interest: Painting, Paper, Photography, and Sculpture. Each exhibition centers on a significant educational paradigm that is accompanied with lectures, workshops and panel discussions. In addition, Cuadro provides qualified art consultation services for its discerning collectors, offers an international platform for its stable of artists, and administers an extensive Residency Program for a select group of artists. Through these initiatives, Cuadro maintains its commitment to dynamically engage and add value to the local and international art communities.

GCC : A Wonderful World Under Construction


Inspired by nation-state branding campaigns, ‘A Wonderful World Under Construction’ imagines a reality in which a government body provides branding as an essential public service.

A state’s investment in public diplomacy and expensive nation branding campaigns are often disseminated as seemingly benign efforts to promote tourism, trade and foreign direct investment. These outward facing tactics emerge out of opaque dealings with strategic communications experts, public relations and consulting companies that often obscure a government’s negative qualities to secure influence on the international stage.

Through these soft power strategies a nation can pursue ambitious international and domestic policy objectives, while at the same time their internal PR strategies capture the public imagination on a national scale.

This exhibition serves as the launch for a fictional smartphone app that offers branding as an essential public service by the government. The detritus of this press conference, including posters and promo videos remain in the gallery. By existing in the interstitial space between idea and implementation, we invite audiences to consider the pervasive role of government in the day to day management of our hyper-mediated lives.

This exhibition is produced with the generous support of The Sultan Gallery and additional support from ACICO Industries Company. 

About GCC:

GCC is a collective based in the Arabian Gulf. Their name is taken from the English abbreviation for the Gulf Cooperation Council, a transnational, political and economic union. GCC engages in a multidisciplinary practice that explores the construction of identities and systems across the purview of contemporary Gulf society, including its bureaucratic, cultural and diplomatic arenas.

The delegates are: Nanu AlHamad, Khalid Al Gharaballi, Abdullah AlMutairi, Fatima Al Qadiri, Monira Al Qadiri, Aziz Al Qatami, Barrak Alzaid and Amal Khalaf.

Solo exhibitions include Ceremonial Achievements at KraupaTuskany Zeidler, Berlin (2013), A Space for National Achievement at Sultan Gallery, Kuwait (2013) Achievements in Swiss Summit at Project Native Informant, London (2013), and GCC: Achievements in Retrospective at MoMA PS1 (New York, 2014) and at the Sharjah Art Foundation (Sharjah, 2014).

Group exhibitions include Speculations on Anonymous Materials at Fridericianum, (Kassel, 2013), Here and Elsewhere at the New Museum (New York, 2014), and Art PostInternet, UCCA (Beijing, 2014).

This exhibition will be on from 10th March – 2nd April, 2015.

Van Leo – Master Cairo Portrait Photographer


Van Leo (a.k.a. Leon Boyadjian) was known as the photographer of the stars of the silver screen during Egypt’s golden age of cinema.  He also photographed a significant number of Cairo’s elite society from the 1940s-1990s. From Roushdy Abaza, Faten Hamama, Samia Gamal, Omar Sherif to lesser knowns, Van Leo made unique black and white portraits – many of which requested hand-coloring when there was no Kodachrome or color printing available – from his famed studio on Sharia Fouad (present day 26th July Street).  Van Leo also made passionate and avant garde self-portraits that are widely acclaimed – during the whirl and buzz of WWII Cairo.For this endeavor, he drew the wrath of his father for being a waste of film, time and money.

After 50 years of continuously running a studio photography business during both turbulent and quiet times in Cairo, Van Leo called it quits in 1998.  He bequeathed his entire collection of over 20,000 negatives and prints to the American University in Cairo (AUC) for safekeeping and preservation of his great legacy.

All of the photographs in this exhibition are traditionally made gelatin-silver fiber prints, printed in the darkroom from the original negatives.

Accompanying the photographs will be the forty-minute documentary film “The Many Faces of Van Leo” (2001), written, produced and directed by Fatma Bassiouni. The film examines in detail the intricacies of Van Leo’s life, including interviews with Van Leo in the last years of his life, that further allows one to understand the creative genius of master photographer Van Leo.

This exhibition is curated by Barry Iverson.

Exhibition dates : 20th January – 12th February, 2015



Adel Abidin : Cover – Up!


The exhibition, Adel Abidin’s first in Kuwait, will bring together two video installations Cover Up (2014) and Three Love Songs (2010) with a series of new text‐based sculptures related to Three Love Songs (2014).

Adel Abidin is a visual artist whose projects, whilst focused on global social, political, and cultural issues inspired by his Iraqi heritage, are playful and ironic. His video and sculptural installations often reference pop culture, racial stereotypes and traditional icons, designing tense situations of confrontation and dialogue that truly engage the viewer.

Abidin’s critically acclaimed Three Love Songs was a highlight of the inaugural exhibition at Mathaf Arab Museum of Arab Art, Doha in 2010 and has gone on to be shown in other venues around the globe. The installation is made up of three stylised music videos (lounge, jazz and pop) displayed on neighbouring screens, each featuring an archetypal western chanteuse: young, blond and seductive. Sung in Iraqi dialect Arabic, the singers do not understand the words to the songs they sing; told they are traditional, passionate love songs when in fact they were commissioned by Saddam Hussein to glorify his regime. With lyrics such as ‘By Allah we owe our lives to your mustache…’ ‘Oh father of the two lions, oh father of virility…’ the clash between the beguiling, soft images and the aggrandizing, triumphalist words is powerful and unsettling. This uncomfortable juxtaposition and manipulation is typical of Abidin’s practice. Displayed alongside will be wall‐mounted sculptures, re‐moulded quotations from the lyrics in Arabic script made in copper. Taken out of the context of the video but made into beautiful objects, these sculptures add a fresh perspective to the overall project.

Cover-Up was produced in August 2014 as part of a larger commission from the annual Flow Festival, Helsinki where Abidin was named Artist of the Year. Displayed on two screens back to back, Cover-Up is again a video installation of a seductive figure in close up. Filmed in black and white, the project replicates the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe in a white dress standing above a subway grating which haphazardly blows the dress up, a scene from the 1955 film The Seven Year Itch. Replacing Monroe with an Arab man and the white dress with a Kandora, Abidin plays with our assumptions on attractiveness, the art of seduction and propriety. The title, which can be read in a number of ways, comments on the hypocrisy rife in contemporary society, mistakes and bad decisions that are hidden, but hinting that their exposure is all to easy.

About the artist, Adel Abidin : 

Adel Abidin (b. Baghdad, 1973) received a bachelor’s degree in Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Baghdad in 2000 and a Master’s degree in Media and New Media Art from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, Finland in 2005 where he continues to live and work.

Abidin has exhibited in numerous group and solo exhibitions, in 2014: ‘Simple past, perfect futures’, Le CENQUATRE‐PARIS, Paris; ‘Music Palace’, Boghossian Foundation, Villa Empain, Brussels; ‘Shifting Identities’, MACRO, Rome; ‘Collective Reaction, Station Museum, Houston; ‘Here and Elswhere’, New Museum, New York; ‘Songs of Loss and Songs of Love’, Gwangiu Museum of Art, South Korea; ‘Late Modern and Contemporary Art’, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne. Previously he has taken part in The Helsinki KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, The DA2 Domus Atrium 2002 Centre of Contemporary Art (Salamanca), Location One Gallery in New York City, Arab Express, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo (2012), the 17th Sydney Biennale, Aksanat (İstanbul), ‘ I Love to Love’, Forum Box Gallery, Helsinki; the Biennale of Contemporary Art of Bosnia; Hauser & Wirth Gallery, London; Singapore Art Museum; Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver; MOCCA, Toronto;Mead Gallery, UK; Espace at Louis Vuitton, Paris; MAC‐VAL Museum, Paris; the 10th Sharjah Biennial and 52nd Venice Biennale, where he represented Finland and the Iraqi Pavilion at the 54th Venice Biennale; held solo shows at L’Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; Kunsthalle Winterthur, Switzerland; Darat al‐Funun; Amman and Wharf: Centre d’Art Contemporain de Basse, Normandy.

In 2012 Abidin received a Five Years Grant from The Art Council of Finland and was a nominee for the Ars Fennica Prize in 2011.

He has frequently shown his work in the Gulf. In March 2013 Lawrie Shabibi hosted the critically acclaimed solo exhibition ‘Symphony’ curated by Basak Senova, which included the ambitious sculpture Al Warqaa commissioned by the Barjeel Art Foundation. The same month he held a solo exhibition ‘Blueprint’ at Maraya Arts Centre, curated by Sara Raza. In 2011 he was part of Sharjah Biennial 10 and his video installation Three Love Songs was a highlight of the inaugural exhibition at Mathaf Arab Museum of Arab Art, Doha, ‘Told/Untold/Retold’ curated by Sam Bardouil and Till Fellrath.

Adel Abidin will hold his second exhibition at Lawrie Shabibi, Dubai Life is Short: Lets have an affair from 4‐12 March, 2015. An aptly short show (held to coincide with the opening of Sharjah Biennial 12) this exhibition is a sound installation and documentation of a trial that the artist faced in Amman, Jordan for allegedly committing adultery. The exhibition was first shown at MUU, Finland in July 2014. Interestingly, although the case was dropped at the time, on a recent visit to Amman he was arrested on the basis of a technicality and spent one night in jail.

Upcoming shows:

Glasstress collateral event at the 56th Venice Biennale, International KIASMA premiering his recent video work “Michael”.


Exhibition dates : 

16th December – 8th January, 2015