Kevin Jones

  • View of “Seher Shah: The Lightness of Mass,” 2016. From left: “Brutalist Traces,” 2015; “Untitled,” 2015;  “Flatlands (Scrim),” 2015.
    picks April 18, 2016

    Seher Shah

    If you had spoken to Pakistan-born, Delhi-based artist Seher Shah about her work two years ago, she would have summoned a host of architectural references: Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation in Marseille, the city Chandigarh in India, gridded facades, ribbon windows. On the same subject today, she is likely to discuss her feelings. While Shah has always reveled in injecting slippages into the rational realm of architectural drawing—undoing sections, upending elevation—now she delights in more visceral pursuits of erasure, abstraction, and fathoming materiality.

    In her exhibition “The Lightness of

  • Reza Aramesh, Action 137: 6:45pm, 3 May 2012, Ramla (detail), 2014, marble, concrete, 111 x 31 1/2".
    slant December 02, 2014

    Kevin Jones

    AS MUSEUMS THINK “EXPERIENTIAL” in their tireless quest for greater footfall and art fairs steadily concoct unexpected “live” attractions and “project” components, all my top shows for 2014 were almost conspicuously understated. Each seemed deeply introspective and so racked by dissent, dissatisfaction, and doubt that they nearly offered an anti-stance to the 2014 zeitgeist of Gulf capitalism and its blithe consumerist emporiums.

    London-based, Iranian artist Reza Aramesh gave Dubai an antimonument (“The Whistle of Souls, A Play that Never Starts,” Leila Heller Gallery Pop-Up Space, March 17 to

  • Steve Sabella, Independence 6, 2013, lambda print on diasec, 32 x 18”.
    picks November 26, 2014

    Steve Sabella

    If Steve Sabella’s 2013 series “Independence” were music, it would be trip-hop—a suave, steady beat wrapped in a sullen, ethereal pall, at once spirited and weighty. The eighteen photographs mounted on Diasec-coated panels in this exhibition draw us into the depths of a murky, uncertain realm, wherein faceless figures cavort in inky suspension, each composition lit from a corner or the side, revealing a mealy, moss-colored ground. The ambivalent, distended bodies depicted are themselves textured by scales of light and shown as if in free fall or blurred by nebulous fluid. The tug-of-war between

  • Kamrooz Aram, Maspeth Rituals (Palimpsest #14), 2013, oil, oil pastel, and wax pencil on canvas, 84 x 72".
    picks April 23, 2014

    Kamrooz Aram

    For his first solo show in Dubai, painter Kamrooz Aram has taken his ongoing interest in erasure up a notch. Adding to his reductionist repertoire of wiping off, sanding down, and scraping away the surfaces of his large canvases, Aram, in the aptly named “Palimpsest” series, introduces the near-universal gesture of the graffiti cover-up. Culled from the urban landscape, where wayward wall scrawl is obliterated by fretful officials or grumbling building owners, this potent gesture of overwriting an image (and thus creating a surface on which to layer a new graffito) is tangled up in Aram’s wider

  • Fahd Burki, Residuum, 2014, Perspex and MDF, dimensions variable.
    picks April 18, 2014

    Fahd Burki

    What makes it so challenging to write about Fahd Burki’s work is that no piece can be considered in isolation: Each contributes to an overall sensation—one of lingering unease. “Yield,” the young Lahore-based artist’s third show in Dubai, showcases a decided progression from the flat, futuristic-totem iconography of previous work towards less ambiguous but equally complex figures. In Gem, 2014, an angel-like character of sharp geometry and blocked colors, floats on a muted ground. Wide circles set within its rounded head approximate eyes that seem to stare flatly; broken lines at its arms’ ends

  • Mona Hatoum, Turbulence (detail), 2012, clear glass marbles, dimensions variable.
    picks April 08, 2014

    Mona Hatoum

    More than seventy pieces, including videos of politicized performances and sculptural installations, make up “Turbulence,” Mona Hatoum’s largest solo exhibition in the Arab world. Hatoum’s work is organized nonchronologically within a trail of rooms, placing the familiar and the unfamiliar, the static and the mobile paradoxes that have prevailed in the British Palestinian artist’s thirty-year career into new dialogues.

    The first video that confronts the visitor is Roadworks, 1985, documenting a performance in which the artist walks barefoot through the streets of Brixton, a pair of Doc Martens

  • Rui Chafes, Inferno XXX, 2012, steel, 43 x 17 x 6 3/4".
    picks February 17, 2014

    “Black Rainbow”

    At first glance, “Black Rainbow”—a show confronting the universe of Portuguese sculptor Rui Chafes and of German artist Ralf Ziervogel—seems like a Minimalist affair. Chafes’s sleek black sculptures parsimoniously dot the space, while Ziervogel’s pieces (monochrome, gesso-smeared canvases—Eskimolied II and Eskimolied III, both 2013) from a distance carry little more than Constructivist-style line clusters. Yet the show revels in a rich materiality. For all their steely elegance, Chafes’s works have an alluring rubberlike finish that draws the viewer to the brink of touch. Similarly, a sense of

  • Asad Faulwell, Les Femmes d'Alger #36 (Women of Algiers #36), 2013, acrylic, oil, pins, and paper on canvas, 5 x 12’.
    picks January 26, 2014

    Asad Faulwell

    Asad Faulwell’s current exhibition, “Bed of Broken Mirrors,” expands his ongoing, ornamentation-fueled series “Les Femmes d’Alger” (Women of Algiers), 2010–, which spotlights Algerian freedom fighters who struggled to wrest their nation from the French colonizers in the 1960s. While the show focuses on portraiture—including canvases replete with metastasizing miniphotos—it also features an imposing diptych (Les Femmes d’Alger #36, 2013), which heralds a new narrative slant in the artist’s output.

    Although the series’ title nods to Delacroix’s famous harem glimpses, Faulwell upends the Orientalist