A view of the artworks in the Nostalgia exhibition.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Ayyam Gallery is currently hosting and curating this year’s University of Sharjah annual CFAD (College of Fine Arts and Design) faculty and alums exhibition (May 17 – June 17).
The exhibition is titled Nostalgia and features works by Ahed Al Kathiri, Brian Gonzales, Hala El Abora, Kawthar Alshurafa, Lina Elmalik, Muatasim Al Kubaisi, Dr. Mohamed Yousif Alhammadi, Nada Abdallah, Nourbanu Hijazi, Thaier Helal, Tor Seidel and Unaiza Ismail.
“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were,” said Marcel Proust, French novelist, literary critic, and essayist, whose thought anchors the show. Nostalgia has its roots in the Greek words Nostos and Algos, meaning ‘return’ and ‘suffering’, respectively. It carries a personal yearning for the past with varying shades of pain, sadness, and wistfulness.
Artworks selected for the exhibition reflect their authors’ personal preoccupation with remembrance that is both actual and perceived – felt experiences that might have been overlaid with the pale cast of encroaching memories. Artists’ and designers’ interpretations of Nostalgia reveal the complexity of their reflections on their pasts, in images, events, or momentary feelings that have been captured. Some portray childhood stories or lament over remembrances of their homeland, while others reaffirm their identities, investigating practices that are under assault by new mores.
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Nostalgia brings together the collective work of CFAD faculty, staff, and alumni in a celebration of creativity. The exhibits reveal their preoccupations, in various manifestations and mediums.“The Art world is a complex and dynamic ecosystem built on several forces that only work when symbiotic,” says Maya Samawi, Partner and Director of Ayyam.
“Galleries, artists, institutions and museums, art and design schools, and many more, have a role to play, and we at Ayyam are happy to be part of the ecosystem and to give back when possible. It is a pleasure to support the art incubators and give back to the beginning of the cycle, which is Education. To be the platform that showcases the existing voices, such as faculty, along with the upcoming agents of the art world alike, is heartwarming and representative of the arts, which bridge the avant garde and classical every day.”
Maya Samawi is Ayyam Gallery Partner and Director.
Emerging artist Ahed Al Kathiri is based in Dubai. Of Yemini origin, she stitches soft pillows, using her grandmother’s clothes, which remind her of her root-country. American artist Brian Gonzales moved to the UAE in 2016. The artworks he makes are the result of ideas and impulses he is still trying to untangle and understand.
Hala El Abora does embroidery work and her practice is concerned with collecting and archiving. Saudi national Kawthar Alshurafa presents a paper installation which depicts the problems she had when learning Arabic as a child. She would like to share this encounter with the reader. Lina Elmalik is from Sudan; her digital artwork titled Sil-sil shows a female figure in wardrobes of bright colour. Little wonder why it is so: her memories of Sudan are enveloped in the Sudanese toub (traditional women’s dress).
Muatasim Al Kubaisi is a sculptor renowned for his bronze artwork. Here he displays the daily newspaper – his place of refuge in his earlier life. Dr. Mohamed Yousif Alhammadi offers a work relating to the earth and its roots, marking sustainability. Nada Abdallah is an artist, designer and educator. Her artwork focuses on discovering Alif, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, through new styles using the latest media, digital design and tech. There is nostalgia here for the past, which is brought to the present.
Nourbanu Hijazi says angels have fascinated her since her childhood. She interprets the “beings of light” with her imagination at Ayyam. Syrian artist Thaier Helal abstracts the Qalamoun Mountains, which lie northeast of Syrian capital Damascus, depicting their mystery and magic.
Tor Seidel is a German artist whose installation Hidden Library in acrylic and handmade paper, longs for perfect knowledge. Unaiza Ismail is a UAE based Pakistani artist who underlines that there are certain experiences which cannot be talked about, since they are considered improper by society. She wishes to highlight the way in which women are suppressed and the expectations of society about women’s behaviour through poems from two Urdu books where delicate, romantic emotions are expressed by a woman writer.
Located at the cultural intersection between Asia and Africa, CFAD aims to be a centre of visual dialogue between the Middle East and the Western world. It aspires to be an international centre of excellence with advanced facilities for teaching, research and creative discovery, as well as for exhibiting artwork. CFAD is committed to contributing to the development of society in line with the values, heritage and culture of the Arab and Muslim community, while striving for the progress of arts education and research in the Emirate of Sharjah and the UAE, through regional and global outreach. Founded in 2006, Ayyam Gallery is a leading arts organisation that manages the careers of diverse established and emerging artists.
With a blue-chip art space in Dubai, a series of collaborative projects in the United States, Europe, Africa and Asia, and a multinational non-profit arts programme, it has furthered its mandate of expanding the parameters of international art. Ayyam also has a multilingual publishing division and a custodianship programme that manages the estates of pioneering artists.The gallery contributes to efforts that document perhaps underrepresented facets of global art history.
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