Hint of Hakka
Art and the Artist
Chinese art in Dubai? Of course my interests were piqued! My knowledge of Chinese art was somewhat limited to Hakka or the array of items on Ikea shelves. Other imagery of Chinese art, as seen in the Dragon Mart, wasn’t really a tasteful proposition. So, I decided to see check it out for myself.
The exhibition is called Middle East Middle Kingdom. A collective of very diverse Chinese art. Eclectic. Eccentric. Esoteric. A dash of controversy as well. In fact, quite a bit. On closer inspection, it was a knowingly sparse collection of modern art, that highlighted the contrast between progress and regression; democracy and dictatorship.
Innocence and Experience
The moment one steps into the gallery, one sees the face of the most wanted man on earth, as we all knew him and as he was, when he was a child. Hint of Blake somewhere? Innocence and experience? Maybe. Another work was based very graphic images that were all part of a huge illusory piece that showed the regressive bit of China. One does know of how strict and streamlined most communication coming out of China is. Journalists from around the world have their own lot of stories to tell from the Olympics that were held in Beijing in 2008.
Another black and white and seemingly dated photograph showed dictators and fundamentalists of the world, all standing together. Clever use of photography. Each man, sure carried stories that changed history, locally and globally.
A few more pieces hung on the huge white walls in the exhibition hall, spot in the middle of an industrial area of Dubai, Al Quoz, now nicknamed the ‘art street’. A few multimedia pieces with an animated red fire or a rat floating in water held my attention for sometime. Poignant.
And then, I settled down on one of the white benches at the corner of the room and observed. It was time to see the art-lovers of Dubai turn out in droves.
Men in shocking orange pants, one Chinese artist in a scruffy shirt looking straight out of Tintin in Tibet, women in heels as tall as Burj Khalifa, photographers clicking away at anybody posing in front of an art piece, women who have perfected the art of pouting the moment they see a lens, old couples actually interested at what was on the walls and not on the floor, media-men who scribbled interviews with one hand and held on to their drink in the other – it was all a sight! I do not remember how long I sat there on the bench looking at the crème de la crème of Dubai who were all art lovers.
Just another excuse to meet, socialise, wolf down sushi and walk over to the next exhibition centre to pose for the tabloid lenses.