Art in Abu Dhabi: But We Cannot See Them

 Installation view of works by Hassan Sharif and Jos Clevers | Photo Courtesy NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

Installation view of works by Hassan Sharif and Jos Clevers | Photo Courtesy NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

Immerse yourself into the past of the UAE’s art scene with a visit to But We Cannot See Them: Tracing a UAE Art Community, 1988-2008 at The NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery.

This exhibition explores the history of a key artistic community in the UAE’s history — a tight-knit support network for local artists as they battled challenges on their paths to artistic breakthrough. In a time with nascent or even non-existing art infrastructure, the group banded together to create an environment of learning, encouragement and philosophical exploration. This particular community of artists is colloquially known as “the five”. 

The group is comprised of members with specialties in a wide variety of mediums, including visual artists, writers, and filmmakers. Together the artists pursued radical experimentation in their projects and, eventually, some of these artists came together to found the acclaimed community art venue, Flying House. The exhibit, which focuses on the time period from 1988-2008, traces the journey of these artists and their community as they transformed from invisible, to visible, to celebrated.

 Hussain Sharif,  Cement with Mixed Media , 2000, Mixed Media, Dimensions Variable

Hussain Sharif, Cement with Mixed Media, 2000, Mixed Media, Dimensions Variable

“The trajectory from a small community of artists to a group of well-established figures in the UAE arts scene happened in only a few decades. Today, most of the artists included here have participated in the UAE Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, many are collected by museums, and they continue to develop their individual voices, providing inestimable inspiration for contemporary emerging artists in the UAE,” said Founding Director and Chief Curator of the NYUAD Art Gallery, Maya Allison.

Doors open to the public tomorrow, March 2, at 12pm with curator-led tours from 5-7pm. If you’re unable to make the opening day (or are looking to add a dash of culture to your weekend), the exhibit is open daily from 12-8pm and is closed on Sundays. But We Cannot See Them will also be complemented by a full public program of events and talks for all ages throughout the duration of the exhibition.

 Installation view of Abdullah Al Saadi’s works | Photo Courtesy NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

Installation view of Abdullah Al Saadi’s works | Photo Courtesy NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

If this will be your first time to the The NYUAD Art Gallery, then you are in for a treat. Located at the main entrance of NYUAD’s Saadiyat Campus, this academic museum-gallery, supported by a museum-trained staff, presents curated exhibitions of art and material culture across historical and contemporary topics, with a special emphasis on subjects of both regional concern and international significance. 

Artists featured in But We Cannot See Them include: Hassan Sharif, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Abdullah Al Saadi, Mohammed Kazem, Hussain Sharif, Vivek Vilasini, Jos Clevers, and Ebtisam Abdulaziz, with contributions from Cristiana De Marchi, Adel Khozam, Nujoom Alghanem and Khalid Albudoor. For more information, you can visit The Art Gallery’s website at www.nyuad-artgallery.org.