Salam at ArtBooth Gallery Abu Dhabi
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On May 31, Artbooth Gallery opened its new space in Abu Dhabi, UAE, so everyone is invited to visit the gallery’s inaugural group exhibition titled Salam ســـلام (“piece” in Arabic). It features the artworks of three Middle Eastern artists: Lana Khayat, Walid El Masri, and Afra Al-Suwaidi. Through their eye-catching art pieces, they aim to evoke a profound sense of inner peace and inspire contemplation on the importance of harmony. Being held at Centro Rotana Hotel, the exhibition will be on view until 10 July 2023. 

About the participating artists

Lana Khayat is a Lebanese artist who works and lives between Spain and Dubai; she is a great-granddaughter of artist Mohamad Suleiman Khayat. She received her BA in Design from the American University of Beirut, Lebanon; she also graduated from the School of Visual Arts, New York, USA, with a MFA degree. 

Khayat is a self-taught calligraphist: she learnt that skill by watching her father and grandfather create and restore Ajami rooms (Ajami is a decorative historical interior design technique and one of the famous Syrian handcrafts). In her early works, the artist focused on representing only calligraphy and inscriptions, however, later the focus shifted to depicting calligraphy with various qualities of light, atmosphere, and garden-scape. Deeply inspired by nature, the artist’s boisterous paintings reflect her conversations with the wilderness. 

Lana Khayat, Garden of Eden, 2022. Aquarelle on Paper. 55 1/10 × 55 1/10 in. | 140 × 140 cm.

Since 2022, the year when she held her first solo show, Khayat has been displaying her works in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, New York, and London. The artist has also collaborated with such major international institutions as the Guggenheim Museum. 

Walid El Masri (b. 1979, Syria) is a Lebanese painter residing in Paris, France. Initially trained as a mosaicist, he entered Damascus University, where he studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts. After his graduation in 2005, El Masri attended the Summer Academy of Darat Al-Funun in Amman, Jordan. 

In his practice, the artist chooses a material subject and repeatedly examines it, exploring infinite variations in depth and space through abstracted compositions. It is less about the objects themselves and more about the possibility of transformation coming from paying close attention to that object over time. El Masri’s first series of paintings was focused on a chair (Les Chaises, 2004-2011). The Cocoons series (2014-2017) was the artist’s response to the violence which broke out in Syria and his exile (he moved to France then). In this series of works, El Masri uses metamorphosis of the butterfly to symbolically present Syria in its current state, while his Children series (2015) comprises artworks directly related to the war. The artist’s latest series of paintings is dedicated to peacocks (2018-present). “Through the Peacock I wanted to get away from painful events, and rest for a while”, he says. While symbolising El Masri’s wish to move forward, this bird’s image is an homage to his father, whom he lost. 

Walid El Masri, Chairs, 2005. Mixed Media on Canvas. 145 x 264 cm.

The artist has his artworks displayed internationally at many art institutes and galleries, such as the Institute of Cultures of Islam (Paris, France, 2020); Amman Karim gallery (Amman, Jordan, 2019); Ferney-Voltaire castle (Ferney-Voltaire, France, 2018); Europia Gallery (Paris, France, 2017); The Busan Museum of Art and Samsung Blue Square in Seoul (South Korea, 2014); and others.  

Afra Al-Suwaidi (b. 1992) is a visual Emirati artist. In 2016, she graduated from Zayed University UAE with a BA degree.

In her thought-provoking multimedia artworks (mostly sculptures), Al-Suwaidi blends virtual and physical worlds and explores the relationship between technology and humanity. Her main material of choice is plaster.  She is captivated by the nature of plaster which embodies the dialogue of adding and subtracting and giving and taking. Her research essentially challenges the human condition in terms of its behaviour and responses. Whether figurative or abstract, her work often evokes sentiments of isolation. 

Afra Al-Suwaidi, Hit it 03, 2021. Fiber Glass on Canvas. 60 x 60 cm.

Al-Suwaidi’s art pieces have been featured in many exhibitions both in the UAE and abroad: the 35th Annual Exhibition of the Emirates Fine Arts Society (Sharjah, 2018); the Art Exhibition (Alliance Française Abu Dhabi, 2017); Guggenheim Abu Dhabi: Do Art Do It Now  (Manarat Al Saadiyat, 2017); Imago Mundi (Treviso, Italy, 2017); Rochester Contemporary Art Center New York (USA, 2015);  Lessedra World Art Print Annual Exhibition (Sofia, Bulgaria, 2015); and others.

To learn more about the Salam exhibition, please visit the ArtBooth gallery’s official website.

You might also be interested in looking at selected works by Nabil Anani.