Azim Al Ghussein’s composition titled Fish and Coral.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Aisha Alabbar Gallery is welcoming one and all this summer with Press Print!, a group exhibition featuring work by eight UAE-based artists: Azim Al Ghussein, Brian Gonzales, Diego Mendoza, Hala El Abora, Ji-Hye Kim, Khalid Mezaina, Safeya Sharif and Salama Nasib (May 31-Sept.7). Press Print! Highlights printmaking practices in the UAE, demonstrating the experimental potential and various techniques available to artists working today.
The artists explore a variety of subjects and create space for ideas, technology, and process. The event is accompanied by a public programme that includes a reading group, a series of talks about artists’ work and collecting practices. Print Exchange, a collection of limited edition prints by the eight artists, will also be available for purchase. Dubai-based illustrator and printmaker, Azim Al Ghussein experiments with image making methods and materials outside the traditional studio. Made using linocut, tetrapak drypoint and risograph techniques, his prints are explorations of the capacity for sharing distribution and hospitality.
UAE-based American printmaker and lecturer Brian Gonzales presents a new series of CMYK screenprints depicting apparently illogical compositions and vibrant colour schemes. The abstract prints that mark the artist’s sixth year in the UAE belong to the artist’s narrative of unravelling endless enigmas. In a new series of etchings and screenprints, Diego Mendoza explores culture induced concepts of masculinity, by layering multiple image transfers, to create compositions of overlapping imagery.
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With visual references to mythological, current and cross-cultural representations of the subject, he portrays the changing spectrums of measuring masculinity. Hala El Abora is inspired by archiving practices, and her work explores acts of preservation, merging the real and imaginary into permanent objects. Ji-Hye Kim conveys the question of self-identity by reflecting on the properties of the UAE’s mountains in the rain and wind. In new large-scale monoprints, the artist traces the textures of these mountains as if recalling their memories and transformations over time.
Emirati artist Khalid Mezaina presents a new body of mixed media prints on paper and fabric, drawing from his research on regional and historical talismanic practices. In these works, he repetitively uses simple shape stamps to compose images of movement such as dancing. Safeya Sharif explores the concept of selective memory in a new series of embossed and linocut prints. By isolating selected scenes of her signature endless hallways, she highlights the correlation of memory and imagination.
Salama Nasib presents a new series of prints as part of her continuing exploration of memory. In the playful series she presents, she looks at childhood desires to play, collaging a print illustration of her family home’s slide against screen printed backdrops of the past.
Azim Al Ghussein (b. Abu Dhabi, 1989) is an artist and illustrator living and working in Dubai. His studio practice involves comics and illustration. Brian Gonzales (b. Santa Monica, 1985) is a Sharjah-based artist and educator. Through his printmaking practice, he expresses ideas and creative impulses waiting to be untangled and understood.
Diego Mendoza (b. Mexico City, 1988) is a Dubai-based printmaker and educator. His printmaking practice focuses on etching and screen printing, exploring representations of masculinity and questioning his own place within it. Hala El Abora (b. Amman, 1999) is a Palestinian Jordanian artist based in Dubai. Her practice is driven by her obsession with the concept of permanence and the desperate need to preserve.
Ji-Hye Kim (b. Seoul, 1980) is a printmaker and artist who has lived in Dubai since 2007. With an academic background in printmaking, her work conveys the question of self-identity using metaphors from natural occurrences. Khalid Mezaina (b. Dubai, 1985) is an Emirati illustrator, textile artist and printmaker. His practice explores the narratives, stories and relationships set against constant change. Safeya Sharif (b. Dubai, 1999) is a multidisciplinary Emirati artist based in Dubai. Her practice incorporates a variety of mediums, including printmaking, photography, painting, book structure and graphic design. She explores the complexities of the mind and how it could be altered. Salama Nasib (b. Dubai, 1988) is a printmaker whose work explores the subject of memory and its ideas, including remembering, forgetting, and false memories.Salama’s work is held in several UAE collections, including ADMAF, Abu Dhabi; UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth, Abu Dhabi; UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs; and Embassy of the UAE in Washington, DC. Founded in 2018 in Alquoz, Aisha Alabbar Gallery is one of the first Emirati-led galleries in Dubai focused on contemporary and modern art by Emirati, local and regional artists. It seeks to further the practices of emerging and established artists - they are the inspiration for its diverse range of programming. Dedicated to UAE-based artists and producing five innovative exhibitions a year, the gallery hosts commented on exhibitions and is known for collaborations with renowned curators and organisations. It invests resources in bringing the practices of artists in the UAE to the contemporary stage. The gallery is strengthened by educational community programmes and a show is by rule accompanied by immersive activations, talks and workshops, to engage diverse audiences. The gallery seeks to contribute to a lasting, evolving UAE arts ecosystem through its shows, programming and commissioned publications.
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