From the Ground Up show at Galleria Continua focuses on Burj Al Arab turf - GulfToday

From the Ground Up show at Galleria Continua focuses on Burj Al Arab turf

Galleria 1

Loris Cecchini’s work Diagram bushes Here and There and Everywhere.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Galleria Continua Dubai is announcing a new exhibition titled From the Ground Up (June 7 – Sept. 10). It is in continuation of the series of group shows paying tribute to the heritage of the iconic Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, where the gallery is situated, and in response to its opulent interior designs.  The exhibition showcases works by the artists represented by the gallery and connected with the theme of earth - one of the four elements forming the visual aesthetics of the Burj Al Arab, developed by Khuan Chew of KCA International. The show traces the roots of history through contemporary artistic practices, reflecting on the evolving landscape of Dubai and one of its timeless symbols, the Burj Al Arab, grounded on a man-made island.

The works immerse viewers in an archaeological and spiritual journey, as it explores the stories of the formation of minerals, and examines humanity’s organic relationship with nature. The installation Diagram bushes Here and There and Everywhere by Italian artist Loris Cecchini sprouts from the floor of the gallery, and at first glance, appears abstract and minimalist.


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But actually it takes its inspiration from material and elaborate forms and processes found in nature. Cecchini pulls together the realms of science and art to develop a series of works that illustrate nature’s  deep mathematical foundations, relating them to biology. The sculptural form of the artwork, comprised of hundreds of elements, is a biological metaphor – cells that open and flower, releasing molecular components that engage with the gallery space.

Verona-born artist living and working in Venice, Marta Spagnoli, also explores the physiological attachment to nature, while establishing a dialogue between the bare earth and the human body. In her painting Pilgrims, fluctuating figures create a universe through pictures and mythical shapes, in a world travelling between reality, myth and dream.

Galleria  Jose Yaque’s Limonita I in acrylic paint and enamel on canvas.

A symbolic universe is created, raising awareness of ecological sustainability. It questions the liveability of the planet and people’s capacity to be guardians of the Earth. A voyager in today’s globalised world, Cameroon-born Belgian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou explores the position of post-colonial African identity in a contemporary world. His sculptural work, Branch of Life, is a crystal mask that hangs in fragile balance off a bronze branch; it portrays an individual moving through the now.

The soil becomes the centre of attention in the work of Alejandro Campins, one of the forerunners of Cuba’s young generation of artists. Campins is interested in approaching objects and places that mark the passing of time, and that in turn have the capacity to influence mindsets and ideologies. Rio Muerto, from the series Bad Lands (2019), reconsiders earth as an indication of life and as archaeological evidence. The mountain becomes a crucial motif which the artist recreates as a condensed capsule that expresses the leap of geological ages. Time is rendered as a permanent factor and not a transitory phenomenon.

Another acclaimed artist from Cuba, Jose Yaque, creates undulating abstract paintings inspired by natural phenomena, often resembling organic materials such as minerals, plants, and stones. He creates his signature works by applying the pigment by hand and then wrapping his canvases in plastic. Limonita I (2014) appears to resemble the bright mineral of limonite, a rock created by natural iron oxidisation, collecting over a period of time.

Similarly, multiple layers of history and formation of new meanings can be found in Concetto in Exile, where Kosovar-Albanian artist Sislej Xhafa uses the PVC fabric from advertising truck boards that were continuously exposed to strong weather conditions and collected dust as they journeyed thousands of kilometres. The resulted form of a painting expresses a “space between nostalgia and hope” as defined by Xhafa himself. The work by French artist JR also documents a happening in a moment of creation.

For the 30th anniversary of the modern landmark, the Pyramide du Louvre, JR produced a collaborative work on the full scale of Cour Napoleon. The paper collage installed by 400 volunteers provided a glimpse at what may lie beneath the ground. Imagining the historical courtyard of the museum as an area of deep excavation or an archeological study, the famous Pyramid looks as if it was submerged in a quarry of white rock.

The brand image completely changes its appearance, altering the viewer’s perception. Temporality is also reflected in the in situ work L’Horizon, Infiniment specially created for the gallery by Daniel Buren.The work must perhaps be seen, felt and experienced before it disappears or is produced again in another form, and another place. Designed with the architecture of the space in mind, it invites the viewer’s imagination to wander, allowing him to turn on, as the artist says, the “third eye”. A moment thus multiplies, revealing a broader vision of an infinite horizon.  First presented as an immersive, multisensory experience in the Egyptian pavilion of the 57th Venice Biennale, the five-channel video work by Moataz Nasr titled The Mountain follows a young girl who challenges deep-set superstitions and conventions of her village. Here, a geological phenomena is used as a metaphor for the triumph of human knowledge over fear. “We should face that mountain and we should conquer it”, says the artist. Founded in 1990 in San Gimignano, Italy, Galleria Continua has expanded its locations to Beijing, Les Moulins, Havana, Sao Paulo, Rome, Paris, and Dubai. It inaugurated its permanent space in Dubai, in Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, in 2021.

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