The Ayyam gallery holds two locations in Dubai, one in Beirut, a location in London and their most recent gallery opened in Jeddah in mid-February of this year. The galleries focus on works of art from Middle Eastern artists, and the London locale in particular has its sights set on educating local enthusiast about works from this region.
London Gallery Director, Joy Asfar, earned her Masters in Art & Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art. Definitely a field you have to be passionate about, Joy fits the bill! She has a knack for balancing the love for her specialty of contemporary (more specifically Middle Eastern) art, and the business savvy it takes to smoothly run a gallery. Joy makes a point to take in as many art exhibitions and events as she can, to stay on top of emerging artists and collections; London definitely doesn’t a have a shortage of opportunities for her to explore.
The kick-off exhibition at the London gallery was featuring art from artist Nadim Karam, and I was lucky enough to sit in on an interview with the artist, lead by the Financial Times’ Architectural Critic, Edwin Heathcote. Karam is known globally for his outdoor fixtures in places such as Beirut, Dubai, Japan and Melbourne, all with particular stories to share a message specific to that area.
At first glance many of Karam’s works seem cheerful even using glitter in his mixed-media canvas pieces, but his art reflects a war torn city with images of tanks and war crafts, of ghouls and ominous facial expressions. The pieces often feature the elephant, as a representation of the animal who never forgets. This is a direct reflection on cities such as Beirut, that constantly need to be rebuilt and for life to drive forward, but there are still many reminders of the history the city holds and the danger that is always looming.
I love the question evoked by Karam’s work: Can a city dream? He emphasized that we should no longer be asking, “can” a city dream, but rather, “how can we make a city dream?” The message as he says, “to spread hope bombs as opposed to real bombs.”
I’m looking forward to checking out the second exhibit in London’s showroom tonight, featuring Iraqi artist, Sadik Alfraji. I will definitely update you once I’ve seen the new works!
For more information on the Ayyam Gallery check out their website at: http://www.ayyamgallery.com/