The work Peaks by Sarah Almehairi, in paper on mat cardboard.
Muhammad Yusuf, Feature Writer
Carbon 12, the contemporary art gallery featuring a selection of works by international artists based on Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue, is participating in The Armory Show at the Javits Center, New York (September 9-12). Its stand P27 will retrace a conversation between the works of artists Sarah Almehairi (born 1998, United Arab Emirates) and Gil Heitor Cortesão (born 1967, Portugal), conveying a dialogue between their works and highlighting and contrasting their nuances. Both artists place a strong emphasis on the compositional characteristics of their art, where intuitive layering and construction act as vehicles in the making of the work. Almehairi examines the construction of the systems after they are destroyed. His sculptural pieces revolve around themes of materiality, systems, interrelationships and language. Through their material language, the different grains and textures are his tools to compose many aspects of a global story. By contrasting the color with the neutral tone, she builds rhythmic substance from muted wood assemblies.
Almehairi’s work also oscillates between image and poetry, narrative and abstract. Lines and layers are used throughout her pieces as a way to explore the clarity and organization of information gathered from her childhood memories. Through the process, moments unfold, repositioning takes place, order is imposed, language affirms a structure.
The elements for telling a story are not so self-explanatory; he investigates the push and pull of concealment and revelation. The artist is interested in how his works create visual poetry, engaging form, materiality and color, assembling an innovative language. His works are reread over and over again to suggest another form than theirs – a map, a sentence, a puzzle piece and his continuous research opens up new paths. She is a practicing artist from Abu Dhabi and graduated in Art and Art History from New York University Abu Dhabi, class of 2019. She expresses herself in different mediums including mixed media, sculpture, painting , the art of the book and the art of fiber. His art explores themes of identity, language, materiality and memory through narrative work as well as abstraction. Al Mehairi is also the author of poetry, which is incorporated into his work.
His works challenge conventional modes of artistic production and question the cultural and social constructions of traditional artistic practices.
She has worked with Shoofi Art Calendar and interned with Abu Dhabi Art and the NYUAD Art Gallery. She was also part of the Youth Takeover 2019 group exhibition at Jameel Arts Center, Tashkeel’s 2019 group exhibition “Play”, exhibited at CultureSummit Abu Dhabi 2018, the 35th annual exhibition of the Emirates Fine Art Society in 2018 and presented his latest capstone solo exhibition in NYUAD’s Project Space titled “Between”. She lives and works in Abu Dhabi.
Having studied at FBAUL, Lisbon and Licenciatura em Artes Plasticas, Pintura, Cortesão’s largely European exhibitions showcase his realistic painting technique of architecture, both interior and exterior, which exudes a tone of melancholy calm, as if abandoned, but not forgotten. He disrupts the illusion with exploratory paint splashes and surface manipulation of his Plexiglas paintings, studying the possibilities of the spaces he portrays. They act as boundaries to these environments, with exploratory splashes of paint as a way to disrupt the compositions.
Observed from interior or exterior points of view, he uses archival images of interior environments from the 60s and 70s. Through painting on inverted glass, the works are caught on the threshold between an image which is immediate and one which becomes apparent. Cortesão is inspired by the design aesthetic of the 60s and 70s, and its spaces are characterized by clean, hard lines. Human presence is generally avoided. There is a dull, dreamlike quality that suggests the decline of the utopian promises of the modernist era.
“I want the viewer to feel that they are at a distance, that they are entering these spaces as if they are hypnotizing,” he said. There is a certain uneasiness that emanates from his works, as they deal with decaying environments that were once heralded as state of the art.
Now well past their prime, their full cheeks are sad and sag as they disintegrate. “What was probably futuristic then, now looks retro-futuristic,” Cortesao says, commenting on the march of time. The works of art, once admired and admired, are stripped of the walls and natural elements invade the interior spaces. It’s horror in slow motion.
The unifying concept between the paintings and the sculptural works in the Carbon 12 exhibition lies in their links with memory. With multiple subjects and nodes in play, oscillating between image and poetry, Almehairi’s geometric abstractions break down, construct and reassemble shapes as constant iterations of themselves. In their still atmosphere, the environments of Cortesão form dreamlike atmospheres of rumination and reminiscence, navigating in spaces empty of human presence, abandoned and deserted.
He has exhibited in several institutions including the CAM Centro de Arte Moderna and the Fundacao Calouste Gulbenkian, and is part of the permanent collections of the ARCO Foundation (Madrid), MUDAM (Luxembourg) and the Fundacion Pedro Barrie de la Maza (La Coruña) ), among others. . He lives and works in Lisbon. The Armory Show prides itself on being “the New York art fair”. In 1994, four New York art dealers had the ambitious goal of creating a new art fair to support their artists and gain worldwide attention. They succeeded. The result was a groundbreaking cultural moment that became vital to the New York art market and beyond. While a lot has changed over the years, The Armory Show is a galvanizing force in the art world and essential to New York’s cultural landscape. Its 2021 edition kicks off the fall art season in New York this month.