Monir Farmanfarmaian continues to dazzle as she explores kinetic art

The art has been shown in various city over the world. (Image supplied)
Updated 17 October 2018
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Monir Farmanfarmaian continues to dazzle as she explores kinetic art

  • Iranian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian is 94 and has displayed her art all over the world
  • Farmanfarmaian’s latest exhibition features mixed-media installations

DUBAI: At 94 years old, Iranian artist Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian would surely be forgiven for resting on her considerable laurels. Her work, after all, is featured in several of the world’s leading museums, including Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, the Guggenheim in New York, and London’s Tate Modern. She even has a museum all of her own in Tehran.
As her latest solo exhibition proves, however, Farmanfarmaian isn’t even close to slowing down yet. “The Breeze at Dawn Has Secrets to Tell You,” which opened at Dubai’s Third Line Gallery late September and runs until November 3, features mixed-media installations created by the artist this year (including new iterations of her famed Mirror Ball works from the Seventies, originally inspired, apparently, by children playing football in the streets.

The exhibition continues Farmanfarmaian’s exploration of math, Islamic cosmology, and Sufi mysticism (the title comes from a Rumi poem) but also introduces an entirely new practice for the artist, as she experiments with kinetic art for the first time. Her familiar geometric mirror mosaics are, the gallery explains in a statement, “framed by curtains of reverse-painted plexiglass strands that one imagines could oscillate in the wind.” Several of those works also feature suspended pendants, further mirroring the shapes from which they hang.

“Each of the shapes possesses mathematical attributes and, consequently, its own meaning. Thus, the triangle becomes a symbol of harmony representing the sould and the three forms of action: mental, physical and verbal, while the square is synonymous with stability, the four cardinal points, and the four seasons,” the statement says.
Back in the 1950s, Farmanfarmaian worked alongside some of modern art’s most-famous names, including Andy Warhol, Frank Stella and Jackson Pollock. “The Breeze at Dawn Has Secrets to Tell You” shows that —  over half a century later — Farmanfarmaian still, remarkably, retains the kind of energy and playfulness that helped drive her then-contemporaries, while her mastery of technique has continued to flourish.

 


Emirati artist Farah Al-Qasimi’s first solo US show set to open

Farah Al-Qasimi’s ‘Living Room Vape’ (2017). (Supplied)
Updated 16 July 2019
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Emirati artist Farah Al-Qasimi’s first solo US show set to open

DUBAI: Emirati artist Farah Al-Qasimi’s first solo exhibition at a US institution is set to open on July 30 at the MIT List Visual Arts Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Working in photography, video, and performance, Al-Qasimi’s work explores themes of gender, nationality and class. Her photographs subvert ingrained expectations of how images are constructed and understood and she is known for borrowing conventions from various sources, including documentary photography and Renaissance paintings.

Um Al Naar (Mother of Fire) (still), 2019. (Supplied)

Camouflage and concealment play a central role in the artist’s work. In a recent series of portraits, Al-Qasimi obscures the faces of her subjects while capturing intimate images, despite the lack of a clear, engaging face. Various compositional strategies hide identifying features — behind plumes of smoke, a well-placed hand, or sumptuously patterned textiles and drapery — while she still manages to accentuate the opulent interiors her subjects inhabit.

Alongside a group of recent photographs, the exhibition will include a screening of Al-Qasimi’s new film, “Um Al Naar (Mother of Fire)” (2019), which was recently unveiled at Art Basel Statements.

M Napping on Carpet, 2016. (Supplied)

The 40-minute video is structured like a television documentary following a jinn — a ghost-like entity in Islamic tradition. Delivering a confessional, reality TV-style monologue, the jinn appears on camera beneath a patterned sheet. The video interweaves her thoughts on centuries of Portuguese and British colonial meddling in the modern-day emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah in the UAE. The video also explores the influence of the European presence in the region and the use of Euro-centric practices for the display of historical artifacts.

Curated by Henriette Huldisch, the director of exhibitions at the MIT List Visual Arts Center, the exhibition marks the first time Al-Qasimi’s work has been shown in a solo exhibition in the US — it is set to wrap up on Oct. 20.  

The artist lives and works between New York and Dubai and has seen her work exhibited in The Third Line gallery in Dubai, Jameel Arts Centre in Dubai and the San Francisco Arts Commission, among other locations.

Al-Qasimi received her MFA from the Yale School of Art and has participated in residencies at the Delfina Foundation in London; the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in Maine; and is a recipient of the New York NADA Artadia Prize and the Aaron Siskind Individual Photographer’s Fellowship.