Alisa Contemporary Art Gallery to host I Write Your Name exhibition at Foundry - GulfToday

Alisa Contemporary Art Gallery to host I Write Your Name exhibition at Foundry

An artwork from the show.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Alisa Contemporary Art Gallery is presenting I Write Your Name, its first group show in Dubai, on the subject of melancholy and the memories of nomads (Jan. 10 — Feb. 9, at Foundry Downtown Dubai).

“The exhibition reflects on the motivations driving our wanderlust, and the factors fuelling our desire to escape, and explores how we navigate the disconnect from places, people, and the past,” says Alisa Bagdonaite, Alisa Gallery owner and curator of the show.

The exhibition features works by the artists represented by the gallery from 2021 to 2023 created across a range of mediums including paintings, graphics, objects, sculptures, videos and NFTs. Each artwork is a product of the artists’ solo projects and the conceptual challenges they set for themselves in their practice. For example, Kirill Makarov uses both painting and video games to interrogate the domains of information and disinformation, in the era of post-truth.

 A still from Kirill Makarov's video The sun has a musky smell in a salty sand.

Sofya Skidan develops the language of cyber shamanism, intertwining questions on the human body’s role and image with the post-anthropocene landscape. Andrei Dmitrenko explores memory by harnessing the poetry of language, discovering ways to embody his poems through material objects. Textile works by Varvara Grankova focus on themes of love, hope, solidarity and community.

Diana Shliman’s sculptures look into the subject of femininity and its image, contextualising them with the help of various historical and cultural lenses.

While employing diverse mediums and conceptual frameworks, participating artists share a distinctive, lyrical perception of the world, along with common professional interests and generational overlaps. “Their keen awareness of the world’s imperfections compels them to take responsibility for its perception and harmonisation, employing surrealistic approaches to artistic expression,” says Bagdonaite.

 Diana Shliman's composition Garden.

The exhibition’s title pays homage to a poem by the French poet Paul Eluard, highlighting the powerful impulse that permeates contemporary art, originating from the roots of modern art. The poem, which is a paean to Liberty, reads like this in English translation:

On my school books/On my desk and trees

On the sand and snow/I write your name

On all pages read/On all white pages

Stone sand paper or ashes/I write your name

On the jungle and desert/On the nests and gorses

On the echo of my childhood/I write your name

On the marvels of nights/On the white bread of days

On the married seasons/I write your name

On the fields on the horizon/On the wings of birds

And on the mill of shadows/I write your name

On each puff of dawn/On the sea on the boats

On the demential mountain/I write your name

On health regained/On risk that is no more

On hope without memories/I write your name

And by the strength of one word/I start over my life

I was born to know you/To name you


Participating artists are Andrei Dmitrenko, Varvara Grankova, Anton Gudkov, Kirill Makarov, Kirill Mikhailin, Sofya Skidan and Diana Shliman. Grankova (b.1988, Moscow, currently based in Montenegro), specialises in installation and performance.

Her practice revolves around the exploration of human relationships, encompassing interactions between individuals, non-human entities, and the environment. Gudkov (b.1987, Omsk, Russia, lives and works in Moscow) favours a variety of media and techniques, including abstract graphics, painting, collage, objects, and found materials.

Dmitrenko (b.1990, Vladivostok, currently based in Rastatt, Germany) is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice encompasses various mediums, including video, installations, photography, graphics, textiles, sculpture and text. The artworks feature various techniques such as pressing, needle scratching, etching and perforation. Drawing inspiration from Moscow’s Romantic Conceptualism, the artist employs a poetic visual language in his creations.

Makarov (b.1988, currently based in Paris, France) engages with diverse mediums, including painting and computer graphics. His work focuses on the exploration of game engines and the dynamics between humans, images and machines. Mikhailin (b.1992, Rostov-on-Don, currently based in Paris, France) is an interdisciplinary artist; his practice includes work with installations, objects, graphics, and painting.

Skidan (b. 1996, currently based in Bali, Indonesia) works with various mediums including installation, performance, sculpture, and video.

Her work often takes the form of site-specific installations where artefacts of post-digital reality are juxtaposed with elements of vanished natural landscapes. In her practice, Shliman (b.1986, Novorossiysk, based in Moscow) explores the concept of the feminine through the lenses of dark ontologies and psychoanalysis. She works in installation, ceramics, metal, painting, and sculpture.

Bagdonaite is an art manager, curator, and gallery owner. She is the recipient of many awards and has authored and edited numerous articles and publications on contemporary Russian art. Additionally, she has orchestrated various international artistic and curatorial exchange programmes, symposiums, and conferences. Her primary focus lies in supporting emerging contemporary artists and spearheading innovative conceptual projects.

Her artists represent a wide range of research topics in their projects, from social criticism to cyberfeminism. They are united by a conceptual approach and the desire to expand the boundaries of modern visual reality. Her gallery’s mission is to discover and promote new names in art, to increase the presence and visibility of young and mid-career artists in the international art market, and also stimulate demand for contemporary art in the middle price segment.

Founded in 2020, the new gallery space will open in Dubai in 2024. Plans for the near future are participation in regional and international fair and exhibition projects and the development of activity in the regions where the artists of the gallery now live and work: Asia, Europe and MENA.

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