Monday, 26 November 2007

The Big 5 security concerns

I have to go through Trade Centre some mornings and normally this is a breeze. You walk in one end, assess whatever -EX is going on and come out the other pondering the wisdom of having a scale model of a dinosaur skeleton in your living room or sending your kids to the children's Porsche driving school.

Well, this week is different..... it's the Big 5. This is not the P5, although the sudden appearance of metal detectors, body searchers and airport style access and security measures does suggest a high profile summit meeting with a few juicy targets.

I was informed by someone who works at Trade Centre that the reason for this was 'A. Sheikh' was attending. However, I discovered this morning the 'A. Sheikh' seemed to have spent the day elsewhere giving a 100% rise to the national charity budget. So I suppose the security must have been to protect the revolutionary warm toilet seat technology on prominent display next to a large plastic rock with a fountain on top.

It was a bit freaky. I nearly got lost after having to go in an unfamiliar entrance and was rather disoriented after being taken into a (very) small cubicle and zapped with a metal detector by a furious looking woman. Thank god I wasn't wearing an underwired bra ....

Saturday, 24 November 2007

At last .. some money

Not only will I be paid for a part time teaching job at the end of this month, but I also heard last week that two of the paintings being shown at the 2 Berts and the 2 Perks this month HAVE SOLD!!! This is great and as anyone who read the October 15th post will know, means spouse and myself are now guaranteed a schwarma each for 316.6 days! This leaves the teaching money available to be donated to Dubai Cares ... er .... I mean to Dubai Overdraft (if extracting the urine from Dubai Cares has become a deportable offence, will someone please let me know. Ta.) These financial developments put me in the completely unique position of being able to trump the federal budget by getting a 100% pay rise!

The change of temperature has also made a dramatic improvement to my life. Going out is no longer like opening a large oven door, getting in and moving very slowly while leaving a trail of sweat. So speed walking by the creek without feeling like a large, white, hot, irritable slug is now an option.

To make this week (dare I say) perfect, I went out into the desert for the first time yesterday. Barbecue under Ghaff tree surrounded by dunes, flowering desert plants and a full moon to boot. There was the added bonus of a serious herd of camels and some very impressive beetles. We were only there for a few hours but it felt like a looooonnnnggg holiday.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

The Thirdline Gallery and B21

I may have said this before but Al Quoz Industrial Zone 3 does not sound like a particularly attractive place. However, sitting alongside commercial laundries, warehouses and car repair workshops are two of the best galleries in Dubai - B21 and the Thirdline.

New exhibitions have just opened and both feature work by well-known Iranian artists - Fereydoun Ave and Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian. Fereydoun Ave was born in 1945 in Teheran but spent some of his childhood in the UK. He then studied fine art in the US before returning to Teheran in 1970. Recently inspired by seeing new work by Cy Twombly, a key influence and mentor, Ave began new work. The B21 exhibition is entitled Lal Dahlias and is a series of mixed media work with an intense focus on those flowers, which were brought into his house to commemorate his mother (Lal).

Most of the dahlias are red although yellow makes a few appearances and there is one solitary blue. The impression as you enter the gallery is that of being surrounded by continuous little red explosions that you can almost hear. As you move closer they become more muted because many are covered by tracing paper applied while the paint is still very wet. The paper can obscure but not absorb the original image and is unable to hide the streaks of red racing like blood down the page. Several individual images like this are arranged into larger works making the layers and types of paper another key element. Sometimes one piece of the montage will just depict an outline sketch making a stark contrast to the urgent red splashes.

The Thirdline gallery also has a good website so you can get a glimpse of the beautiful reverse painted glass and mirror geometries of Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian. She was born in 1924 in Qazvin, in north-western Iran. After two years at Teheran University, she went to New York in 1945 and studied at the Parsons School of Design. She worked as a layout artist at Bonwit Teller alongside Andy Warhol and stayed in New York until 1957, immersed in the richness of emergent abstract expressionism and minimalism. Apparently, she also hung out with Jackson Pollack…. it’s hard not to be jealous.

She travelled throughout Iran on her return, exploring the historical richness of Iranian folk art and architecture. Her use of mirrors to create large geometric images reflects a form of architectural decoration in the 18th century when mirrors imported from Europe often arrived in Iran broken. The mirrors were salvaged and the pieces cut and reshaped to form geometric mirror mosaics. Another folk art technique was reverse glass painting also used to decorate houses and tents, often in more remote or tribal areas of Iran. These two elements are very visible in this exhibition.

The mix of mirrors with reverse painted glass creates a sublime beauty of reflection and intense almost metallic colour. I would love to know exactly what kind of paint this is but it was not specified. In some pieces very minimal use of this intense colour is highly effective, suggesting the difficulty of locating beauty among multiple reflections of a harsher reality. At the same time, Farmanfarmaian’s strict adherence to the underlying rules of geometry - balance (mizan) and unity (tawid) – gives each piece a reassuring strength and solidity.

This exhibition also features other work including hand drawn geometric designs and three memory boxes from a series she called ‘Heartaches’. The boxes use a rich mix of evocative materials and mementoes and seem very much like Farmanfarmaian’s very own personal folk art.

Iranian Art Links
Elahe Gallery – With extensive links to artists and other galleries in Iran
Teheran Museum of Contemporary Art – Contemporary work by Iranian artists and fascinating listing of the rarely seen western archive.

Friday, 2 November 2007

They all come at once..

This is what is said about London buses.... you wait for hours and then three come at once. Have concluded that Dubai operates in a similar way. After sitting here for months with nothing happening three metaphorical buses have pulled up at the November stop.

Bus No. 1.
Thanks to Dubai Lime the four tree pics (above) went into Central Perk in Mirdiff yesterday. Their tour schedule is as follows....

November 1 – 11 Central Perk, Mirdiff
November 12 – 17 Central Perk, Jumeirah
November 18 – 24 Bert's Café, Dubai Marina
November 25 – 30 Bert's Café, The Greens

Bus No. 2
I HAVE A JOB!!! It's an English teaching job for three mornings a week and I am so happy! At last I can stop having to ask spouse for money (which is really quite humiliating having never had to do it before) and can treat myself to an occasional bar of decent chocolate! Getting to the school is easy too. There are 4 buses that go there from Bur Dubai so that's a 3 dirham round trip to work which is pretty damn good.

Bus No. 3.
Confirmed as opening on November 14th at the Courtyard Gallery is an exhibition of female artists in which I have four brand new made-in-Dubai digital pics. Will post them later.

Ulhumdulilluh all round!