Titled Between the Lines and curated by Rom Levy, the show will feature artworks from both established and emerging contemporary artists including Andrew Schoultz, Kenton Parker, RETNA, Andrew Faris, Paul Insect, BAST, eL Seed and Jenny Sharaf, highlighting the continually blurring lines between contemporary art and urban street art.
Since people first began painting on cave walls, the line has been the simplest element of art. As a mode of mark marking it doesn’t remain static, but holds an infinite potential—of velocity, of direction, of connection, of form. Against the noise of today’s overly decorative urban art scene, then, it makes sense to return back to where it all began: to the purity of line.
The line is at once a road and a horizon. Between the Lines considers the space in between. Bringing together an international group of artists, it surveys the landscape of a movement that started in the grimy backstreets of Paris, London, New York, and LA but has since exploded to become a worldwide phenomenon. Today the lines between contemporary art and what was once called street art are increasingly blurred and difficult to distinguish. The lineup includes heavy hitters and fresh new blood alike. Despite their humble beginnings—and very often an aversion to getting sucked into the commercial art machine—many of these artists have been welcomed into the upper echelons of the art world—its fairs, auctions, as well as its museums and other institutions.
Still, this is a show that doesn’t forget its roots, with many of its participants having honed their craft not only in art schools but also in the streets. The myriad figural and typographic styles on show are deeply grounded in their urban origins but have evolved over time to develop their own unique figural and typographic languages. Take the colourful geometry of Andrew Faris’ new aesthetic landscape art in which the digital seems to erupt into the physical or Andrew Schoultz’s who implies a sense of alluring fantasy and whimsy – a crossroads vaguely familiar to the modern world. Almost all of the artists are showing for the first time in the Middle East, yet the influence of the region can be felt in the hieroglyphics and Arabic calligraphy that, along with black letter, and Native American scripts, informs RETNA’s characteristic style.
It makes perfect sense to show these artists in Dubai. Just as urban contemporary art itself draws upon and connects multiple movements, Dubai is a cosmopolitan, multiracial node linking Europe, Asia, and Africa, with all these diverse influences reflected in its culture. It’s also a city that looks to redefine public space and bring the outside inside even as it is constantly remaking itself. Like the city and like the line, the movement continues to evolve, using its high-profile platform to advocate for personal freedom, social change, and an expansion of awareness—all to the largest audience that any art movement has ever reached. Even as the works in Between the Lines celebrate this urban facet of contemporary art, they not only demystify but repoeticise the streets.
Between the Lines Opens on May 11th 7pm-9pm and will be on view until June 8th 2016 at the museum located on Warehouse 38, street 8A, Al Quoz 1, Dubai.
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Founder and editor of Urbanite. Street Art lover who after the finishing her MA thesis on the muralist movement in the 1920-50s, developed a fascination for street art and graffiti that eventually led to collaborations with different art blogs, including the creation of this one.