Top Destination: Islamic & Indian Art, Seduction And Matisse in London | 50 Years of Printmaking in Kuwait

London Oh London! After going through all events and exhibitions happening in April I must say the first three weeks of the month must be spent in London, and the weather is slightly warmer now… Starting with 3 days auctioning mystical, exotically valuable and rich Islamic and Indian masterpieces at Christie’s featuring:  Poetry Persian manuscript by Kamal Al-Din Wahsi Baqfi dated September 1840 AD, a unique copy of Qur’an from the 16th Century, and illustration by Jamal Al Din Abu Mohammad Nizami “MAKHZAN AL-ASRAR AND ISKANDARNAMA” from Safavid Isfahan DATED (AH 1069/1658-59 AD).

In addition to unique pieces, there are two more days for Rugs & Carpets auction and Art & Textile of Islamic & Indian Worlds. I must say it is a three comprehensive-intense days auction!

What’s happening next in London is the first in the city! Sensual, provocative and tempting established Iranian artist Afshin Pirhashemi is having his solo exhibition for the first time in London at Ayyam Gallery. Pirhashemi invites viewers for an experience of shock; as the first glance of his artworks is deceiving because you think its a mix media or collage but the closer you get the more you realize it is mere oil painting on canvas. The second shock is Pirhashemi fierceful and seductive women; all wearing black with straight stare into you, a gaze that looks through your thoughts, as if these women are exactly reading what’s on your mind! I am not exaggerating… Finally in London – but not in Top Destination is one of my favorite modern artist; Henri Matisse at Tate Modern offering an oppertunity to view beautiful and innovative artworks by the legend between 1936 and 1954 and a book launch all in one place… If only I was in London!

The final final Top Destination is back to Kuwait with a retrospective that made it before in Al Mahha Top Destination last January but it was in Bahrain. A collaboration between Albareh Art Gallery and Contemporary Art Platforms brings together a lifetime chance to witness acclaimed artist Mohammed Omar Khalil’s 50 Years of Printmaking. Well, what shall I say? If it wasn’t a Top Destination it wouldn’t move from one country to another… Only best recommendations worldwide! Ready?! Enjoy your flights…

Destination One: Christie’s London

Flight Dates: April 8, 10, 11, 2014



(Source: Christie’s) An abundance of riches from the Islamic and Indian worlds will transform Christie’s two London salerooms during Islamic Art Week from 8-11 April. The auctioneer hammer will set three different days of mesmerizing and authentic Islamic and Indian masterpieces:

1. April 8th: ORIENTAL RUGS & CARPETS at London, King Street:

Featuring property from a number of exceptional private collections from around the world, including rare 16th century weavings from Egypt, Damascus and Ottoman Turkey. Viewing Times:

To download and view E-catalogue, click here.


Covering works & masterpieces of art from across the Islamic world, notably Turkey, Iran and India. Auction Times:

To download & view collection E-Catalogue, click here. 

3. April 11th: ARTS & TEXTILES OF THE ISLAMIC AND INDIAN WORLDS at South Kensington, London:

Offering a diverse array of works from across the spectrum of the category. Auction Times:

To download & view collection E-Catalogue, click here. 

Destination Two: Ayyam Gallery London

Flight Dates: April 10 – May 24


 These women long to align with the West, yet at the core are also linked to local identity in dress and social expectation in the domestic sphere.

Afshin Pirhashemi 'Mothers' 2013.  Oil on canvas, 195 x 285 cm. Courtesy: Ayyam Gallery
Afshin Pirhashemi ‘Mothers’ 2013. Oil on canvas, 195 x 285 cm. Courtesy: Ayyam Gallery


Afshin Pirhashemi’s Seduction

(source: Ayyam Gallery) Ayyam Gallery London is pleased to announce Seduction, Iranian artist Afshin Pirhashemi’s first UK solo exhibition, to be held from 10 April until 24 May. This exhibition features Pirhashemi’s signature black and white paintings depicting thickly tressed women in the guise of temptress, seductress, repentant, as well as those ultimately beyond redemption. In a departure from his monochromatic canvases of late, the artist also presents two striking large-scale works in colour. Pirhashemi’s works need little introduction for who can forget being in the presence of a beauty clad in all black, cleavage bearing, she points a loaded gun at the viewer, making us witness and target to her violent gesture. Ever powerful, the women Pirhashemi chooses to depict in painting are ones who have been wronged, and often those who have done wrong depending on the vantage point taken. In this series, the women are partially veiled or wrapped in chadors, while at other times they announce their love for the United States, signalling the dichotomy of identity that modern day Iranian women confront on a daily basis. These women long to align with the West, yet at the core are also linked to local identity in dress and social expectation in the domestic sphere. In a highly orchestrated scene, the painter places his audience face to face with a band of women who come together to produce a new world order, some obscuring identity by wearing “Scream” masks and carnival masks while others wield sabres. Clustered, the power of the women is exponential as wolves roam in the distant background. The masked women suggest all is not as it seems and that something is askew in the order of things. For more information and work preview, click here.

Destination Three: Tate Modern London

Flight Dates: April 17 – September 7



Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs

(Source: Tate Modern) Henri Matisse is a giant of modern art. This landmark show explores the final chapter in his career in which he began ‘carving into colour’ and his series of spectacular cut-outs was born. The exhibition represents a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see so many of the artist’s works in one place and discover Matisse’s final artistic triumph. In his late sixties, when ill health first prevented Matisse from painting, he began to cut into painted paper with scissors to make drafts for a number of commissions. In time, Matisse chose cut-outs over painting: he had invented a new medium. From snowflowers to dancers, circus scenes and a famous snail, the exhibition showcases a dazzling array of 120 works made between 1936 and 1954. Bold, exuberant and often large in scale, the cut-outs have an engaging simplicity coupled with incredible creative sophistication.

Henri Matisse 'The Snail' 1953. © Succession H. Matisse / DACS 2014. Courtesy to Tate Modern
Henri Matisse ‘The Snail’ 1953. © Succession H. Matisse / DACS 2014. Courtesy to Tate Modern

The exhibition marks an historic moment, when treasures from around the world can be seen together. Tate’s The Snail 1953 is shown alongside its sister workMemory of Oceania 1953 and Large Composition with Masks 1953 at 10 metres long. A photograph of Matisse’s studio reveals that these works were initially conceived as a unified whole, and this is the first time they will have been together since they were made. Matisse’s famous series of Blue Nudes represent the artist’s renewed interest in the figure. London is first to host, before the exhibition travels to New York at the Museum of Modern Art and after which the works return to galleries and private owners around the world.

Final Destination: Contemporary Art Platform Kuwait

Flight Dates: September 23 – May 16

A precise amalgamation between folkloric elements and handicraft, and the timeless quality of art history, give birth to composite worlds with life of their own.

Printmaking by Mohammed Omar Khalil. Courtesy to Albareh Art Gallery
Printmaking by Mohammed Omar Khalil. Courtesy to Albareh Art Gallery



50 Years of Printmaking in Kuwait is the second stop of this retrospective after it was first launched in Bahrain at Albareh Art Gallery. Conceived by Hayfa Aljishi – Founder of Al Bareh Gallery and curated by Abed Al Kadiri Director of Contemporary Art Platform CAP – Kuwait, exhibited work in 50 Years of Printmaking presents an alternate view of the artist’s entire career, not only as a traveler between cultures and epochs, but as re-interpreter of the meaning of visual culture in general: He attempts to re-locate sensorial experience elsewhere than with the pure colors that characterize the postmodern, hereby searching in the black, for a warmer place where his book of art and life meets the viewer. Withdrawing from the visual field, the artist is opening the possibility of entering the world with an altogether different morphology, causing apparently unrelated elements to collide into each other and emerge as distinct syntactic compositions. A precise amalgamation between folkloric elements and handicraft, and the timeless quality of art history, give birth to composite worlds with life of their own.

Artist Mohammed Omar Khalil Courtesy to Albareh Art Gallery
Artist Mohammed Omar Khalil Courtesy to Albareh Art Gallery

Mohammed Omar Khalil has been both a pioneer and role model in print-making throughout the region, and one of the most important living artists working on the format that he has as well taught in prestigious American universities, such as Columbia and the Parsons School of Design at the New School. Staying away from the minimal and abstract that shaped his generation, the artist has developed a grammar of his own, excavating surfaces of consciousness and presenting them as narrative sequences in snapshots that might be arranged differently each time we observe them. The fifty years encompassed in this exhibition are by no means a composite whole more than they are the traces and coded signals of a fertile career, nowhere finished and still on the search for new groundbreaking paths.

Bon Voyage


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