Tashkeel celebrates 15 years with its largest exhibition in Dubai
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Tashkeel celebrates 15 years with its largest exhibition in Dubai

Institution brings together pieces from more than 100 artists who call the UAE home.

Artdayme: Tashkeel is celebrating its 15th anniversary by rolling out its biggest exhibition.

Made in Tashkeel, now running at Alserkal Avenue, aims to reflect how much the institution has grown and how it continues to mentor artists in the UAE.

It is also Tashkeel’s largest exhibition, encompassing the diversity of UAE artists and designers, including those who have been part of its professional development programmes.

“The exhibition shows the power of community first of all. It also reveals the broadening and deepening of not only mediums but practice and production quality as well,” Lisa Ball-Lechgar, deputy director at Tashkeel, tells The National.

“I came here [to Dubai] in 2005 and the shift in attitudes towards the arts, the development of the creative and cultural industries and the quality of the work reflects the broadening and diversifying of the sector."

Curated by Sheikha Lateefa bint Maktoum, the owner, founder and director of Tashkeel, the exhibition includes 343 artworks by 136 artists representing 40 nationalities, all of whom live in the UAE. Works by 72 Emirati artists are featured as well as one by Lavanya Chandpurkar, who is only 12 years old, and works by people with disabilities.

It's an eclectic collection that includes painting, sculpture, photography, wearable art and graphic design.

“A lot of the work here reflects a sense of belonging to this country, whatever nationality you are,” Ball-Lechgar says. “It also shows a deeper, more intrinsic investigation into what ties us together not only as humans, but also how we are tied to the environment, whether that's rural or urban.”

One of the most impressive pieces is a large charcoal graphite drawing by Emirati artist Hamad Alshamsi. Working in mediums such as oil, acrylic, charcoal and digital art, Alshamsi’s style of realism creates engaging portraits full of life and detail.

In one portrait, the young sitter, Alia, is adorned in talli, a traditional form of Emirati jewellery while holding a bouquet of bougainvillaea flowers. The work shows off Alshamsi’s craftsmanship while celebrating many aspects of the UAE’s cultural heritage.

The work of Ibrahim Zaki is also a bold and fun addition to the exhibition. Zaki, also a senior graphic designer working at Tashkeel, has eight designs on display. Combining the aesthetic qualities of Arabic calligraphy with contemporary design, Zaki blends two different styles to create a unique and engaging series.

First-time creatives are also displaying their work at the exhibition.

Maitha Bughanoum's work is where science, environmental conservation and art intersect. As part of her job at the Environment Agency in Abu Dhabi, she uses drone technology and aerial photography to follow the dugong populations around the Abu Dhabi coastline and monitor the development of natural mangroves. The aerial photographs show the coastline and mangroves from a perspective not often seen by the public.

Painter Mason Rempfer displays the latest hyper-realistic miniature paintings from his series Little Bits of the UAE.

Each work is the size of a Dh1 coin and is made from cross-hatching – without a magnifying glass. From Burj Khalifa to a pearl and a traditional Emirati kettle, Rempfer depicts some of the UAE’s most recognisable architectural and cultural elements.

Sahar Bonyanpour's three wearable art pieces from her Mermaid Collection are also part of the exhibition. The pieces, Avant Garde Garment, Cropped Poncho and Net Poncho, are created with discarded synthetic materials to create geometrically wearable and eco-conscious designs.

One of the most surreal pieces in the exhibition is papercut and printmaking artist Debjani Bhardwaj’s Dreams Within Dreams. The immersive installation uses paper and lights to transport the viewer into a visual story full of stylised figures, flora and animals inspired by Emirati and Omani folktales.

Made in Tashkeel is running at Alserkal Avenue, Dubai, until September 8