Top Destinations: Retrospective, Sufism, Artistic Researches & Dangerous Amusement

A retrospective of a pioneer yet forgotten Pop Art artist in UK, Sufism artistic studies in Dubai, contemporary chinese art based on intensive researches to Miami and finally a video installation of destructive explosions and weapons from Hungary to Kuwait… My selections of December’s Top Destinations are anything but “seen that before!” AKA boring, I guess I am influenced by my last trip to Beirut when I arrived on the same day of two suicidal explosions near Iranian Embassy Nov 19 – now talking like a news editor! –  an eye-catching event or exhibition must be dangerously amusing, similar to what Contemporary Art Platform – Kuwait is hosting.

Shall we start?!

Destination One: Pauline Boty | Pop Artist and Woman in UK

Flight Date: Nov 30, 2013 – Feb 9, 2014

Pauline Boty painting Derek Marlowe with Unknown Ladies © Michael Seymour
Pauline Boty painting Derek Marlowe with Unknown Ladies © Michael Seymour

‘Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman’ is the first public exhibition to survey the work and career of Pauline Boty (1938-1966), the pioneering Pop artist known for her glamorous, free-spirited lifestyle at Palla House Gallery, UK.

One of the few female artists associated with the British Pop Art movement of the 1960s alongside Peter Blake, Derek Boshier and David Hockney, Boty has been largely overshadowed by her male Pop counterparts since her untimely death aged just 28. This exhibition, which comes to Chichester from Wolverhampton Art Gallery, reinstates Boty at the forefront of the movement, featuring paintings, collages and ephemera from public and private collections including rarely seen pieces that have not been exhibited for 40 years.

The exhibition follows Boty’s artistic progression from her early experimentation with various media such as painting and stained glass to a series of sexually and politically-charged paintings and collages. It demonstrates how her oeuvre enriches the male-dominated sphere of Pop Art with a female perspective, exploring themes of female sexuality, gender, race and politics, and contemporary events such as the Cuban missile crisis and the assassination of JFK.

Born in South London in 1938, Boty first studied at Wimbledon School of Art and then the Royal College where she met David Hockney, Sir Peter Blake, Derek Boshier and Peter Phillips. Sociable, charismatic and popular, Boty was a striking figure, dubbed the ‘Wimbledon Bardot’ on account of her extreme good looks. Yet her glamorous appearance often meant that she struggled to be taken seriously, despite her passionate engagement with politics and the intellectual life of the college.

Boty’s premature death of cancer in 1966, aged just 28, cut her career short and her works were not exhibited for nearly thirty years. While her glamorous persona and high-profile connections such as her marriage to the actor and literary agent Clive Goodwin have endured, until recently, her work has been largely overlooked, lost in the limelight cast on her male Pop Art counterparts.

This exhibition will fittingly place Boty’s work alongside Pallant House Gallery’s extensive collection of Pop Art, one of the largest and most significant outside London. Key works in the exhibition include The Only Blonde in the World (1963), My Colouring Book (1963), It’s a Man’s World II (1965-6), BUM (1966) and Untitled (Self Portrait) (c.1955).

Destination Two: Amar Dawod | Al-Hallaj and The Tawasin in Dubai

Flight Date: 2 Dec 2013 – 20 Jan 2014

Courtesy to Meem Gallery
Courtesy to Meem Gallery

Meem Gallery presents Amar Dawod’s first solo exhibition in Dubai, displaying twenty-six mixed-media works by the artist. The exhibition is dedicated to the mystical writings of Mansur al-Hallaj, the famous Sufi thinker, writer and teacher who was executed in 922 for heresy. Drawing specifically on al-Hallaj’s celebrated Kitāb al-Tawāsīn (The Tawasin) as a point of departure for this series, Dawod represents his understanding of the eleven verses of The Tawasin in vivid and muted colours. His compositions demonstrate the careful interaction between line, abstract form, attention to detail and collage in his rendering of figures, angels, and patterned patchwork backgrounds. The exhibition’s catalogue will feature essays by the artist, Stephen Hirtenstein, Louai Hamza Abbas, and Suhail Sami Nader, as well as a full English translation of The Tawasin.

Dawod has drawn influence from the works of al-Hallaj since his early years in Baghdad, during the mid-1970s. At the Institute of Fine Arts, where the artist received his diploma in 1979, Dawod attended the lectures of the late artist Shakir Hassan Al Said, whose theoretical ideas on art were strongly derived from Sufi thought (most notably his theory of the One Dimension). For Dawod, the ideas of al-Hallaj resonate ‘because of the inherent desire of painters to traverse the self and overcome or deny it in order to completely ascend to where God declares His presence through the signs that have influenced many of the Sufis’ minds, including al-Hallaj.’ Though Dawod’s works are not a literal translation of al-Hallaj’s ideas, he has noted that the Sufi thinker’s often complex style of writing has affected the approach to his art practice.

Born 1957, Baghdad, Iraq – Amar Dawod has held solo exhibitions in Sweden, Poland and Jordan including Gallery Linjen, Vastervik, Falun City Library, Falun, Art Academy, Lodz, and Karim Gallery, Amman. He has participated in numerous international group exhibitions including Graphics Triennial 11, Krakow, 1986; Relief, Plan, Images, Centre de la Gravure et de L’image imprimee, La Louviere, 1994; A propos de ‘La Resurrection’ de Piero della Francesca, Musee du Petit format, Sansepolcro, Tuscany and Viroinval, 2003; Contemporary Iraqi Book Art, University of North Texas Art Gallery, Denton, Texas, 2005; and Contemporary Iraqi Art, Pomegranate Gallery, Soho, New York, 2007.

Dawod studied at the Institute of Fine Arts, Baghdad and received an MA from the Art Academy, Lodz, in 1987. He has also studied animation at the Animations House in Eksjo. His awards include Mention Honorifique, Krakow, 1984; Mention Honorifique, Krakow, 1986; and Graphics Triennial Award, Fredrikstad, 1989. He lives in Vastervik.

Destination Three: 28 Chinese in Miami

Flight Date: Dec 4, 2013 – Aug 1, 2014

Li Shurui, Inner Rainbow, 2011, acrylic on canvas, (180 x 240 cm) Courtesy to: RFC
Li Shurui, Inner Rainbow, 2011, acrylic on canvas, (180 x 240 cm) Courtesy to: RFC

28 Chinese is the culmination of the Rubell Family Collection | Contemporary Art Foundation’s six research trips to China between 2001 and 2012 where they visited one hundred artists’ studios in Beijing, Chengdu, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Xi’an and acquired artwork from twenty-eight artists.

These artists will be represented by paintings, photographs, sculptures and video installations. This will be the first exhibition in North America for many of these artists. The oldest artist in the exhibition was born in 1954 and the youngest was born in 1986. A fully illustrated, 262 page catalog in Chinese and English with text from all of the artists will accompany the exhibition as well as a complementary audio tour. This exhibition will occupy the Foundation’s 28 galleries, 40,000 sq foot museum.

All of the artwork in the exhibition is from the permanent collection.

To celebrate the opening of 28 Chinese, Jennifer Rubell will be presenting her annual breakfast project: a new, large-scale, food-based installation titled Faith. The press preview for Faith will be held on Wednesday, December 4, 9am to noon. The official opening is Thursday, December 5, 9am to noon. Faithis made possible by illycaffè.

Final Destination: Zsolt Asztalos Holod | Fired But Unexploded in Kuwait

Flight Date: Dec 11, 2013 until Jan 11, 2014

Courtesy: CAP Kuwait
Courtesy: CAP Kuwait

Under the patronage of the Hungarian Ambassador in Kuwait Ferenc Csillag, Contemporary Art Platform (CAP) in collaboration with Art Moments and Hybrid art-Hungary, is proud to present the video installation of the Hungarian artist Zsolt Asztalos Hold, ”Fired But Unexploded”, Exhibition of Hungarian Pavilion in the 55th international exhibition, Venice Biennale 2013.

The installation comprises Sixteen videos, each presenting an unexploded projectile found in Hungary. The vision of the destructive weapons, which hover in a homogeneous, indefinite space, is complemented with the sounds of the world around them, and thus the films open the way to new narratives.

Each bomb has its own story. Which is essentially one of two kinds. Bombs may explode and thus fulfill their role as objects made specifically for the purpose of destruction, and then enter history books and the personal histories that families maintain. Zsolt Asztalos Hold, in his turn looks into the other possible story in his installation, the story of the malfunctioning device (unexploded bomb) as it leaves behind its original function, assumes a life of its own, starts writing a narrative, becomes a director of our lives through the contingency it introduces. It stays with us humans as it generates and symbolizes conflicts among us.

The website at www.fired-but-unexploded.com is an integral part of the installation: it not only provides further information on the exhibition, but also aims to create a worldwide map of conflicts with its interactive interface.

This Exhibition is part of the Zenith Art Exchange program between CAP, Kuwait and Art moments, Hungary.

Enjoy your flights

Cheers

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