Aisha Alabbar Gallery is delighted to participate in Art Dubai for the first time with a presentation of Emirati artists Asma Belhamar (b. 1988) and Sultan Al Remeithi (b. 1989). Reflecting on the transition from pre to post-industrial developing rapidly during the 1980s, both artists explore contemporary Emirati nostalgia. This natural-to-urban transformation often remains commemorated in architectural structures. What were once landmark lively sites - historically inhabited by Emirati communities – have experienced spatial and cultural shifts with gentrification. While memories of this life are passed on, this recent period in Emirati history faces being forgotten. In these new bodies of work, Asma and Sultan explore this loss and question the contemporary urban fabric of the UAE.
Asma Belhamar’s interdisciplinary investigation of how time transfigures and compresses structures within the changing Emirati landscape, continues in her presentation of Souq Alras Street (2023), a series of architectural drawings inspired by Todd Reisz’s 2022 book, Off Center | On Stage. These architectural drawings incorporate the repetitive typologies of traditional Emirati houses but for the first time, Asma is breaking them down into fragments through stencils and carbon paper. Like a deconstructed façade of splintered balconies, this act of recreating the tools to access hybrid architectures references Monuments of Al Fareej (2023), her current artwork showcasing as part of Sharjah Biennial 15.
Asma’s new body of ceramic sculptures form rocky like structures. Upon closer look, their corrugated exterior appears to be interweaving patterns, inspired from architectural façades as if recording the spread of urbanisation in real time. Her attentiveness to the language distinguishing new urban communities in the UAE has led to the inclusion of texts in these works, gleaned from advertisements through the city. She imprints fragments of these slogans signaling imminent change.
In a series of vivid oil paintings titled 5 Stars, Sultan Al Remeithi brings attention to restaurants who have survived, unchanged, against environmental shifts in the UAE. From his personal archive of more than 200 photos, these largely unpopulated paintings of interiors, echo the unassuming restaurant photos and blur the lines between past, present, and fiction. In this same spirit, Sultan marks his oil paintings with a set of geo-coordinates which, when searched, only give a rough estimate of the eatery’s location. This naming scheme simultaneously grounds his work in the material world and dissociates from any immediate, site-specific interpretations. Through this amalgamation of settings, the interior appears familiar yet outside of the contemporary trend.
Both Asma and Sultan’s practices examine this contemporary nostalgia and highlight the remnants and traces. Asma dissects still structures, repetitively replicating visual elements to draft the dynamic urban fabric in the UAE. Sultan draws on the act of nostalgia, capturing hazy details of outdated interiors. His paintings, much like Asma’s works become the mental equivalent of furiously blinking one’s eyes against sudden light to be left with a dissolving afterimage.
Wednesday, March 1, 2-9 pm (by invitation only)
Thursday, March 2, 2-9 pm (by invitation only)
Friday, March 3, 2-9 pm
Saturday, March 4, 2-9 pm
Sunday, March 5, 12-6 pm