Afra Al Suwaidi’s composition titled Hit.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Brand new Abu Dhabi art space Artbooth Gallery is opening with an inaugural group show titled Salam on May 31. To run till July 10, visitors can see the show in gallery spaces on the ground floor of Centro Rotana Hotel, Abu Dhabi. Being held under the patronage of Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Cabinet Member and Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence, the exhibition showcases the works of Lebanese origin artists Lana Khayat and Walid El Masri, as well as Emirati origin artist, Afra Al Suwaidi.
The title of the exhibition ‘Salam’, translates to ‘Peace’ in Arabic, and the works on display place a strong emphasis on the importance of peace. Through their art, Khayat, El Masri, and Al Suwaidi aim to explore the elements of peace.
Artbooth Founder Roger El-Khoury commented that “for me, Salam is a special greeting to all art enthusiasts in the UAE, and this exhibition is dedicated to them. Salam will display a variety of artworks by each artist, including ones created exclusively for this collaboration. Visitors will be transported to a new realm where technology meets art and creativity. They know no bounds!”
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He said that Artbooth aims to provide gifted artists with unparalleled support. “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to work together and create something truly unique,” says Khayat. “We each bring our own strengths and styles to the table, and we can’t wait to see what happens when we combine them.”
El Masri adds that “there’s something special about collaborating with other artists — it’s a chance to push your boundaries and venture into new territory. I’m excited to see where this exhibition takes us.” Al Suwaidi echoes this sentiment, emphasising that “this is a chance to bring together different perspectives and create something greater than the sum of its parts. I think visitors will be amazed by what we’ve created.”
Artbooth Gallery aims for the event to be an exceptional highlight of the capital’s art calendar, promising to captivate art lovers and enthusiasts alike by providing them a unique aesthetic experience. Khayat traces her artistic lineage back to her great-grandfather, Mohamad Suleiman Khayat. Growing up in a family endowed with artistic talent had a profound influence on her; it led her to develop in a rooted artistic direction.
Inspired by nature, each tone and stroke in her artwork brims with significance that perhaps goes beyond the scope of human writing or language, evoking free-moving journeys of her conversations with the wilderness. Having always believed that nature has music for those willing to lend an ear and as an introvert, Khayat has found herself more at ease with nature than with mankind.
The artist realised early on that some learnings were too deep and personal to be put into words; this inspired the choice to use the canvas as her medium of expression. “The abstractness of her art is synonymous with the unpredictability of her encounters with nature,” a curator has said. “The artist aims to inspire people to discover the depths of nature where nothing is mundane and everything has a meaning.”
Her art is widely exhibited and collected in New York, London, and across the Middle East. She has collaborated with leading international institutions, including the Guggenheim Museum. El Masri explores variations in depth and space through the abstracted compositions of a subject that is repeated. He relies on intuition as a crucial element in his artistic process and strongly believes that the motifs in his art seek him out and discover him, rather than the other way round.
Like Morandi’s vases or Cezanne’s apples, El Masri’s depictions are less about the objects themselves and more about the possibility of transformation that is obtained from paying close attention to the object over time. He has exhibited solo at Europia Gallery in Paris, Ayyam Gallery in London, Jeddah, Damascus and Dubai, as well as Art Beijing Contemporary Art Fair, Hong Kong Art Fair, at the Busan Museum of Art in South Korea, and Samsung Blue Square in Seoul. He is also a member of Caravan Culturelle Syrienne, which organises cultural events across Europe.
Al Suwaidi creates multimedia installations that explore the relationship between technology and humanity; she seamlessly blends the virtual and physical worlds to create thought-provoking and visually arresting works of art. Her work is influenced by the characteristics of giving and taking and adding and subtracting, seeking out, unravelling, and sometimes burying and concealing her thoughts.
Expressing herself through plaster, her research essentially challenges the human condition in terms of its behaviour.
Her work has been exhibited at the Alliance Francaise Abu Dhabi and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, as well as at the 35th Annual Exhibition of the Emirates Fine Arts Society in Sharjah, and at the Cultural Foundation Art Residency, Abu Dhabi. She is also a recipient of the Cultural Foundation Art Residency 2020.
Artbooth Gallery was founded by El-Khoury in 2019, after 11 years of experience in the art field between Beirut and the United Arab Emirates. The gallery aims to create cross-cultural bridges between artists, audiences, and collectors from across the world. It is dedicated to promoting carefully assessed artworks, while exploring new connections and partnerships. From emerging to established artists both at the regional and international levels, it aspires to provide artworks best suited for any collector’s satisfaction. Services include fine art sales consultancy, second market art sales, archiving collections and curating exhibitions.
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