If you thought the words ‘Dubai’ and ‘great art’ have no business being on same page, let alone in the same sentence, then it’s time to adjust your perception.
The second largest of the seven emirates isn’t just about making and spending money. Dubai is fast becoming a hotbed of contemporary art; and the jewel in the crown is Art Dubai, the Middle East’s leading art fair, held each March.
As befits a city that moves so fast, the locals are already bored with tomorrow, it isn’t just in the numerous galleries that visitors can check out some the region’s best contemporary art.
The Jumeirah Creekside Hotel, for example, is committed to giving guests’ eyeballs a workout with a collection of nearly 500 individually curated pieces. Opened near Dubai’s International Airport three years ago, the Jumeirah Creekside features works by more than 51 contemporary artists from 11 countries, including Egypt, Syria and Iran.
Curated by Camelia Esmaili, founder of l’Atelier Camelia, the collection brings together acclaimed and emerging artists from across the Middle East, including Lara Baladi, Rokni Haerizadadeh and Kader Attia.
Anna Karziukova, marketing executive at the Jumeriah Creekside, says the collection spans from painting and sculpture to mixed-media and video works.
“Our aim is to provide a renewed perspective on Middle Eastern contemporary art,” says Anna. ”Our collection was specially commissioned to connect the hotel to the region’s unique art and culture. These works are fully integrated into the hotel, and can be discovered by guests through a series of chance encounters.”
Of particular interest are four monumental sculptures, that represent the elements of fire, water, earth and air. Of these, probably the most traffic-stopping is the Flying Carpet, a sculptural installation that flanks one wall of the lobby and represents the fire element. The work of Iraqi artist Halim Al Karim, the 1500kg metal sculpture “is the artist’s comment on happiness, expressed through the electric pink colour”, says Anna.
“The giant flying carpet references a soul leaving its being through a symbolic Arabic mashrabiya repertoire. It took a team of installers three days to hang.”
Another key piece is Disc Oriental, which anchors one entrance to the hotel. Representing the element of air, the sculpture is artist Chahine Khosravi’s unique take on wind, expressed by an endlessly ebbing and flowing river of 2,000 metal painted white leaves.
Anna says the hotel walls were deliberately kept a minimalist concrete to provide a neutral back-drop for the art.
A favourite with guests is the piece by Lateefa BintMaktoum, a member of Dubai’s ruling family, entitled Enveloped, which combines the mediums of photography and painting.
“Enveloped is a visual representation of her observations, combined with elements of her imagination, which fuse together to produce the striking blue image.”
Along with the shared spaces, every guest room features individual pieces. Each week, hotel guests can join a half-hour tour to find out more about the collection.