As part of its 20th anniversary, the L.A. Art Show will open Wednesday night with a special exhibition of contemporary art from the United Arab Emirates. As an homage to the ancestral traditions of the Emirati, the UAE government-sponsored exhibition will be housed in a Bedouin tent. It features large-scale works — painting, photography, mixed media, video installations and more — by 14 emerging artists.
The works speak to the spirit of experimentation engulfing the rapidly developing region. Zeinab Al Hashemi's "Pearl Tale," a two-dimensional digital collage, blends traditional images and new technology. A serigraph by Khalid Mezaina is more abstract: a stacked, black-and-white cityscape that is at once familiar and of unknown origin.
"These artworks inspired by Emirati culture and traditions reflect on changing landscapes," said Noor Alsuwaidi, the exhibition curator. "They're coming first-hand from a generation of artists who have witnessed these changes."
All the UAE works at the four-day art fair at the L.A. Convention Center will later be in the larger exhibition "Past Forward: Contemporary Art From the Emirates" at the Fowler Museum at UCLA from Jan. 25 to March 8.
"Past Forward" is the first touring exhibition of a contemporary Emirati art board that is part of the UAE's cultural diplomacy program, meant to educate the public about the region. The exhibition features more than 50 works from about 25 artists. Collectively, they paint a portrait not only of the history and traditions of the area but also of a rapidly evolving arts and culture scene.