DIFC Art Nights 2023 expressed support for art and sustainability - GulfToday

DIFC Art Nights 2023 expressed support for art and sustainability


A portrait looks out from a work by Joanna Patejuk.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

The 16th edition of DIFC Art Nights under the theme of ‘Expressions for Sustainable Change’, got underway — and got over — with an opening night in Gate Village, DIFC, Dubai (Nov. 23 — 24). The inaugural night of the bi-annual event featured a VIP tour with Saleh Al Akrabi, Chief Real Estate Officer, DIFC Investments, who explored the exhibition and spoke to the artists about their work. The occasion featured a host of interactive and sustainable art pieces that employed sustainability measures and aspects related to it, crafted by local and international artists. Legacy Art, who was among the participants, was founded in Dubai with a vision to promote art by established and emerging artists from around the globe. The business is headed by Sonia Ghai, who has been actively involved in the art field in Canada and the Middle East, as a curator and collector. Legacy has over two decades of experience in the art sector and has established a network of relationships across the globe.“

As part of its commitment to the art fraternity,” said Ghai, “Legacy Art has expanded its scope to include corporate leasing of art, project-based commissioning, while retaining its base model of buying art upfront from emerging artists and then showcasing the same through various channels and events. It is proud of its working model where the organisation has frequently funded artists to encourage them to pursue their talent and produce masterpieces of art.” Currently, Legacy has a collection of over 1000 artworks, covering emerging and established artists from around the world. Legacy Art’s partnership with DIFC has been of mutual benefit and this time, Legacy brought six artworks from Joanna Patejuk, an artist from Poland. The collection showcased artworks which were crafted using matchsticks, providing a unique perspective on sustainability through art. Patejuk, who was born in Poland, is of Ukrainian origin. A graduate of the University of Physical Education in Gdansk, for over 20 years she has been travelling the world on horseback, combining her three passions — horses, camels and art. She is a professional jockey, a trainer in horse racing, a champion camel jockey in C1 Championship — and a self-taught artist.

Artwork from Joanna Patejuk.

Her collection at DIFC was bursting with energy. Their colour intensity showcased her creative impetus and depicted an extraordinary way of looking at the world. Patejuk is inspired by beautiful, strong, independent and famous women such as Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, whose mystery portrait figured strongly in her exhibition. For Patejuk, art is a counterbalance to the “unbearable burden of the mundane.” Which is why she resorts to unconventional painting materials; besides canvas, paints and brushes, she plays with glue, matches, coloured paper and pieces of photography. After all, art should reflect life’s diversity, said Legacy, with a nod to the working practice of one of its favourite artists.Well known international multidisciplinary artist Anna Chekh, who, though based in Thailand, has also a significant presence in Dubai’s art scene, unveiled her new collection of art objects. They are designed to elevate and personalise your interior spaces, Chekh says. Her presence in DIFC Art Nights followed a successful exhibition at the Louvre in Paris, and she had chosen the Art Nights as the platform to debut her new creations. She called her collection of objets d’art ‘Shadow Man’. They consisted of ten pieces of collectibles, each with a height 32 cms, made of recycled plastic. Created this year, they are a dedicated exploration of Chekh’s central artistic figure – the Shadow Man.In her view, the Shadow Man “symbolises the image of our generation. Like the rest of us, he likes to be in the thick of things, perpetually exploring the dynamic world around him. Yet, he also likes to stay in shadow and keep his private life and values, as symbolised by his embrace of the sphere.” Usually, according to her, Shadow Man should bring good luck, and serve as a kind of talisman for his owner. “The collection has got a lot of feedback from collectors and art lovers in Dubai,” Chekh said.

An artist explains her work to Saleh Al Akrabi, Chief Real Estate Officer, DIFC Investments, during DIFC Art Nights.

She is a multidisciplinary contemporary artist, working with canvases and sculptures, creating design furniture, digital art, web 3.0 projects, installations, performances and brand showcases. Her style is a blend of cutting edge surrealism and expressionism; she uses cartoonish characters who play the role of guides. She is not afraid to experiment. For example, she composed a new type of artwork — a 3D picture with its digital twin in NFT, an art object with real plants and 3D clone of her picture. It allowed viewers to immerse themselves in a virtual world and explore the artwork as if it were a game.

Anna Chekh showed her artworks at DIFC Art Nights.

She believes that it is an artist’s obligation to give positive energy to society. Though playful on the surface, her artworks invariably have a deep sense of meaning and deal with current social topics. Originally from Ukraine, she has projects and events worldwide. Her geography ranges from Dubai and Paris to New York and Tokyo. She was awarded — in Burj Khalifa — for the Best Phygital project 2023 and has been published numerous times, with her artwork being displayed in Louvre, Paris.

Taking place just before the UAE hosted COP28, this edition of DIFC Art Nights highlighted DIFC’s commitment to bringing art to a wider audience, with sustainability in focus, brought to life through the views of artists.


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