Last week the Salwa Zeidan gallery, the oldest in Abu Dhabi, celebrated its 21st anniversary with a glamourous soiree at The Collection, Saadiyat Island. While there was much in the way of canapés, cocktails, and cocktail dresses, the UAE’s finest artisans and their admirers gathered for the opening ceremony of a limited display.
Cutting the ribbon was His Excellency Shaikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development.
The various art forms on display include a mix of modern, mixed media, sculpture, digital print, and abstract. If you have any cultural inclinations then a visit to the Saadiyat Island will be worthwhile. While there are many displays to enjoy, we have chosen our favourite five.
1. Garden No. 1
Artist Hassan Sharif Year 2007 Form Oil on canvas
Why we like it Being predominantly desert, it’s always nice to see some greenery about the UAE. We like the use of colour, particularly the light splash of yellow and red – which we believe to be hanging laundry in the background. It adds a touch of warmth to what is a mainly blue and green, cool-coloured composition. It feels very personal and unplanned, almost as if the artist caught it on a whim.
2. Classic 555
Artist Hassan Sharif Year 2008 Form Mixed media
Why we like it We’re not philistines here at Guides, honestly, but when we first saw this piece we thought that the janitor had knocked a bin over. It was only the caption that exposed the truth. Take a step back and look at what you see… Foil? Discarded packaging? What does it all represent? We don’t know, but we couldn’t stop thinking about it. We still don’t know, but isn’t that what art is all about?
Artist Fatema Al Mazrouie Year 2015 Form Collage and mixed media
Why we like it This abstract piece appears to represent an Arabian horizon. The grey, cloudy sky is underlined by a choppy sea crashing against a sandy beach. On land we see images of the Al Nahyan family and traces of plant life. Could this painting be a metaphor for the late Shaikh Zayed’s desire to protect the Emirati people, with the splashes of colour symbolizing a bright future? A family-man protecting his family from the storm, perhaps. It’s intriguing.
4. Black Spiral Series
Artist Salwa Zeidan Year 2011 Form Black marble
Why we like it Sometimes simplicity is enough to make a piece appealing enough on its own. But that’s a rather lukewarm appraisal of this exhibit. Marble is a hard and expensive material, and to sculpt it is incomprehensibly difficult. We like this example because it was clearly difficult to make. It’s the kind of sculpture that you look at and think “where do you even start?”.
Artist Hussein Sharif Year Unknown Form Mixed media on canvas
Why we like it It’s a dark composition with strategic use of brighter colours. The lower two-thirds seem almost random. At the top we see a watch, we think this represents time (ok, that’s not a difficult deduction). Could it represent life: time moves fast and life becomes a blur? Is it telling us to slow down, as time is constant, but life is not?
Location Space 22, The Collection, St. Regis, Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi Island Cost Free entry Timings Sunday to Thursday 9am to 7.30pm; Friday and Saturday by appointment only Phone 02 666 9656 Website Salwa Zeidan