Rest Kazem Divecha
Rest by Mohammed Kazem and Vikram Divecha
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Gallery Isabelle in Dubai offers everyone to attend Rest, its latest exhibition featuring Mohammed Kazem and Vikram Divecha. It is dedicated to the exploration of the dynamics between labour, rest, and the Emirates’ changing urban landscape. Inspired by The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and His Followers written by T.J. Clark, the show delves into the historical debate about art’s reflection of social and economic life. One will be able to visit the exhibition until the 15th of April, 2024.

Displayed works focus on labourers working in the UAE. Kazem‘s new large-scale acrylic paintings on view portray urban sceneries, capturing transient moments of workers at rest: when they contemplate life during bus rides, nap under trees, or daydream. The artworks purposefully blur the line between abstraction and figuration. The labourers’ figures are glimpsed as if seen through a moving window, which alludes to their ever-present but often unnoticed existence.

Mohammed Kazem, Window, 2023. Acrylic, charcoal and pencil on paper – No.36. 56 × 76 cm

Divecha provides a moment of self-expression and visibility for workers in his projects like Shaping Resistance (2015), Beej (2017), and Dohrana (2021) which involved collaborating with Sharjah’s Municipal gardeners. In the Rest exhibition, he shows his Resting Bodies series of minimalistic art pieces that observes how people rest, sleep, and stretch their muscles. The resting silhouettes are transformed into “models” that erase the distinction between figures and the landscape. In these artworks, Divecha presents the resting body within a commotion of lines embodying not just the movement of the city, traffic, and roads but the movement of capital and its demand to fuel the system with labour and energy.

Vikram Divecha, Resting Bodies (Island No.3), 2024. Permanent ink on handmade paper. 14.8 × 21 cm

About the artists

Mohammed Kazem (b. 1969, Dubai, UAE) is a conceptual artist residing in his hometown whose practice deploys drawing, video, sound, photography, performance, and using found objects. He is one of the members of the Five Group including such prominent conceptual Emirati artists as Hassan Sharif, Hussain Sharif, Abdullah Al Saadi, and Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim.

Trained as a musician, Kazem’s main field of interest is developing processes that can render transient phenomena (sound and light) in tangible terms. It is illustrated, for example, by his series Scratches on Paper which comprises visual representations of sounds: sheets of paper scratched and gouged with scissors. Kazem also employs overlooked daily objects (construction flags, chewing gum, etc.) to measure and explore global transformations. He often positions himself within his work and responds to geographical location, materiality, and the elements to assert his subjectivity about the rapid modernisation in the UAE since the country’s founding.

Mohammed Kazem, Window, 2023. Acrylic, charcoal and pencil on paper – No.45. 56 × 76 cm

Vikram Divecha (b. 1977, Beirut, Lebanon) was raised in Mumbai (India) and today divides his time between New York (USA) and Dubai. He works with painting, drawing, film, photography, and text; his practice also includes performances, public art, site-specific interventions, sculptural installations, and collaborations. The artist delves into the theme of authorship, time, value, transience, architecture, migration, and labour through “found processes” which involve intervention within public and social systems. For instance, in 2017, Divecha delayed a train from Paris to Rouen for five minutes to create a pause in how one relates to time.

To learn more about Rest, please visit the exhibition’s official web page.

You may also be interested in visiting Platforms and Patterns for a Postcolonial Avant-Garde.

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