Gallery Talk: Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF), Saturday 1 Feb

How could I forget about the galleries at the Sharjah Art Foundation ? Shame on me! I just love these new buildings on the old port side of town, walking distance from the main Sharjah Art Museum.

I dragged ms Reanda de Beer away from her exam studies on Saturday to attend a talk there. Umer Butt from Grey Noise Gallery in Dubai gave a very informative discussion on the works of Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Russian artists living in NY. SAF had acquired two of their installations. Mr. Butt is obviously passionate about their work and the talk was interesting and eye-opening. I admit I was not familiar with the artist couple at all. I learned most their art is about ‘escape’, yet growing up in the Soviet Union, Ilya’s work seems more of an “utopian preoject” rather than a comment on the hardships one assumes to imagine about life behind the iron curtains.
Personally, Im not a fan of the paintings in the exhibition, they just felt flat and illustrative- but consideration needs to be kept for Ilya’s background as an illustrator.
The installations I preferred, especially Memorial to useless things (1998). Though it is definately something I have seen before (the collection of everyday life things/ consumerism etc etc), I am trying to keep in mind the year it was made and the dates placed on the placques (if one can trust these dates are true)…..which helps to remind myself it is not just another collection as we’ve been seeing the last decade. I particularly enjoy the fact that useless, discarded objects can still hold memories for people that are important to them, or at least important enough to remember a specific point in time (in this case, decades ago!).
I liked teh sentiment behind The Blue Carpet, of being grounded on the floor to look at the illustrations and writings, pared with the relaxation and the social aspect of sitting on the carpet, taking time to think about the work, life…ofcourse obviously religion …
And it was a nice comfy way to conclude the talk!

For more info on the artists: http://www.ilya-emilia-kabakov.com/

Here are a few photos:

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