WKR 191024 Mara Firetti, Emmanuela Venturini and Paola Marucci-1572111438712
Mara Firetti, Emmanuela Venturini, and Paola Marucci, founders of Oblong Gallery in Dubai Image Credit:

DUBAI The medieval town of Pietrasanta in Tuscany, Italy, is famous for its marble workshops and bronze foundries. For centuries, since the time of Michelangelo, artists have been drawn to this place due to the quality of marble found in the area and the knowledge and skill of the town’s master artisans. The Oblong Contemporary Art Gallery, which opened last week on Bluewaters Island in Dubai, has strong links with Pietrasanta and aims to bring the rich artistic heritage of this historic town to the UAE. The gallery has been founded by Dubai based art dealer and promoter Mara Firetti, architect, designer and art curator Emanuela Venturini, and Paola Marucci, an entrepreneur living in Pietrasanta.

WKR 191024 Oblong Contemporary Gallery-1572111440516
A view of the art works in Oblong Gallery in Blue Waters Island, Dubai.

Mara Firetti speaks about their plans for the gallery:

What is your vision for the gallery?

Since moving to Dubai in 2001 I have seen the UAE emerging as an international art and culture hub and our aim is to further enhance the art scene here by bringing high quality modern and contemporary international art to Dubai. Our gallery is primarily focused on sculpture and will exhibit works by some of the world’s most famous sculptors. Our dream is to see monumental sculptural works becoming part of the local art scene. We believe art is an instrument for social and cultural integration, and our vision is to create a platform for cross-cultural exchange between the UAE and Pietrasanta and between artists from around the world. The gallery will host talks, workshops, educational initiatives and an art exchange programme, while also promoting courses and master classes on sculpting techniques in the marble laboratories and foundries of Pietrasanta and the surrounding Versilian region.

Why is the gallery named Oblong?

The oblong shape is derived from three other shapes – a square, a circle and a rectangle. Similarly, our gallery is an amalgam of the different backgrounds and personalities of its three founders, Emanuela, Paola and me, who have come together because of our shared love for art.

What made you pick this place?

A new place such as Bluewaters island in Dubai is the perfect location for a new gallery. We are proud to be the first gallery on this island, and we hope many others will join us soon.

What is the concept behind your inaugural show, The Nascence?

Nascence means being born, the development of something new and bold, or the emergence of a great potential. This gallery is our baby, so we chose ‘nascence’ as the theme and title for our inaugural exhibition. The show features sculptures in a variety of materials such as marble, granite, bronze, brass, steel, aluminum, fibreglass, resin, Murano glass and gold by well-known artists like Igor Mitoraj, Stefano Bombardieri, Pablo Atchugarry, Gustavo Velez, Helidon Xhixha, Jorge Jimenez Deredia and many others whose careers have been significantly influenced by their association with Pietrasanta.

WKR 191024 Citta Perduta VIII by Igor Mitoraj.-1572111442069
Citta Perduta VIII by Igor Mitoraj.

We are also showcasing paintings and collages in various media by leading artists such as Mario Arlati, Agostino Ferrari, Enzo Fiore and Enrico Ghinato, who is known for his hyper-realistic paintings of classic cars. Other special pieces in the show include Carla Tolomeo’s flamboyant furniture designs; renowned ballet dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov’s photographs capturing the grace and beauty of dance; and limited-edition serigraphs of the late Robert Indiana’s famous work, HOPE.

(The Nascence will run at Oblong Contemporary Art Gallery, Bluewaters Island, Dubai until December 14.)