Monday, March 15, 2010

A Potpourri of Cultures in Dubai

DUBAI - The only fringe art event of the Middle East, the Bastakiya Art Fair 2010, got underway in a simple yet powerful language of art on Monday. With the presence of over 200 budding as well as established local and international artists, BAF 2010 opening proved to be one big artistic jamboree it 
promised to be.
Held under the patronage of Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and organised by XVA gallery, BAF – now in its fourth year – is bigger and better than its three predecessors, hosting more artists, more galleries and more performances.
The fair also saw the opening of dozens of heritage houses in Bastakiya, which were otherwise closed to the public. The traditional architectural marvels coupled with all the artworks and creative installations that were placed around gave a quaint yet magical feeling, taking art-lovers to another world filled with emotions and subtle expressions. Like all art fairs, artists and galleries it always had, but one thing that stands out in this edition are the cozy national houses representing the culture, values and talent of various countries.
Though there are many vivid works from various artists that will probably stay with you for long, watch out for ‘They Welcomed Us With Flowers’ at Iraqi House, ‘Nishan’ at Emarati House and ‘Jadeed’ at Pakistani House to name a few. Also expect some tough treats at Nelda Gilliam’s installations as well as Algerian artist Sadek Rahim’s exhibition.
Rahim, who is doing his first show in Dubai, presented an energetic art performance at Bastakiya’s central plaza to open the fair. As an artist living in a troubled society, Rahim seems to be in a tug of war with his conscience every step of his life and his opening performance aptly displayed his feelings and struggles.
“My installation here represents my life and what I have gone through at various stages. It reflects aspects of my life in London, where I did my masters in art; in Lebanon where I have studied for four years and in Syria where I have spent some time with my diplomat father,” explained Rahim.
Apart from displaying his life, Rahim’s works primarily reflect the society he comes from and the struggles people undergo in everyday life. “In Algeria millions of people when they wake up in the morning they don’t know whether they will have anything to eat. People are struggling with poverty and I feel it and I want to reflect it in my work,” said the artist who calls himself humanist.
Rahim is one of the several lesser known but deserving artists, whose works BAF is trying to bring to the fore. And with five more days of performances, expert talks, luncheons, movie screenings and more the fun has just begun.

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