One of the sides to faith is unity in a spirit of brotherhood, love and shared devotion to God. “Strokes in Dialogue” is a joint collaborative effort by master calligraphers Samir Al Sayegh and Wang Dongling, uniting two strikingly disparate and unique Arabic and Chinese art forms through the context of faith and religion.
Samir Al Sayegh, a Paris-educated Lebanese calligrapher known to experiment with using geometric, structural and abstract approaches to traditional Arabic calligraphy has previously exhibited work at the British Museum.
Wang Dongling, professor at the China Academy is a practitioner of traditional Chinese typography and calligraphy bringing Daoist and Buddhist elements in his work. He has also exhibited at the Metropolitan and Guggenheim Museum in New York, British Museum in London and Sorbonne in Paris.
The opening night was commemorated with a live painting performance by the two artists to produce artworks in indigenous styles and forms appealing to a broad audience with contemporary perspectives toward traditional forms of calligraphic styles.
“Strokes in Dialogue” is a refreshing take on works produced from a cross-cultural approach to the ancient art forms that managed to retain their original characteristics whilst still possessing the potential to transform into newer sensibilities.
Location: Gallery A, Athr Gallery
A jewelry exhibition by Beirut-born Dubai-based artist and jeweler Nadine Kanso is also running at the gallery. The “Bil Arabi” (In Arabic) series is a young yet classic collection of handcrafted jewelry in 18-carat gold supplemented with precious and semi-precious stones.
Designed with a contemporary outlook that draws inspiration from exploring the Middle-Eastern heritage, singular Arabic alphabets form the core design motif on rings, bracelets, pendants and earrings.
Nadine Kanso dabbled in various design-related fields with a brief stint in journalism before her work underwent a directional change after she was invited to exhibit at the V & A museum in London as part of a group exhibition titled “Arabize me” in 2006.
She later went on to create her jewelry line “Bil Arabi” in 2006, which was a personal exploration of her Arab identity that translated her artistic process into using Arabic alphabets onto jewelry designs. This exploration has continued throughout her exhibitions including Design Miami 2008, and Christie’s Dubai where she was specially commissioned to create designs for their Jewels and Watches: The Dubai Sale in April 2010.
Location: Office space, Athr Gallery
A small chunk of new works in calligraphy, sculpture and Islamic geometry is also exhibited by artists Basmah Felemban called “Sama Dance,” Dana Awartni’s “Mu’athat” series and Abdulaziz Al Rasheedi’s calligraphic pieces inspired by Qur’anic chapters that make up for the parallel exhibition running in conjunction with the rest.
Location: Gallery B, Athr Gallery
Hosted in the larger office space of the gallery is a furniture exhibition titled “Migration Stories” by Lebanese design and craft studio Bokja founded in 2000 by Hoda Baroudi and Maria Hibri.
“Migration Stories” is inspired by the spirit of nomadism and migration caused by war, economics, instability, ambition or love reflecting the impermanence of a wanderer. The furniture line embodies a richly weaved sense of hopes and dreams through intricate embroideries.
The Flying Elephant’s series (drawn from an expression used in the Lebanese colloquial language) is an interesting and eccentric collection of décor, which according to the duo’s artistic sense alludes to the false promises of political figures.
The designs are customized with an assemblage of unique embroidered patches, vintage frames and limited edition designs that are quirky, new age and hipster.
Specializing in unique furniture pieces and artistic home décor installations, the duo combine tradition and culture reinterpreted through modern designs using an explosion of colors, patterns and richly textured fabrics, resulting in a gorgeous mixture of Middle Eastern and Asian influenced vintage furniture pieces.
Credited by Lidwij Edelkoort, renowned Dutch fashion trend forecaster and counting Christian Louboutin, Norah Jones, Kate Hudson, Julia Roberts and Sandra Bullock among key clients, the ‘Migration Stories’ exhibition by Bokja is not to be missed.
Location: Office space, Athr Gallery
All the exhibitions will be open for public viewing at Athr gallery until Sept. 10.