Rahel Aima

  • picks February 01, 2018

    Abir Karmakar

    “Home is so sad,” Philip Larkin wrote in 1958. “It stays as it was left, / Shaped to the comfort of the last to go / As if to win them back.” The large-scale oil paintings in Abir Karmakar’s exhibition “Displacement” capture the timbre of one such household, an Indian family’s, with aching precision. Largely freestanding upon wooden supports, the hyperrealistic canvases create trompe l’oeil rooms within the gallery even as they gesture to the way we stage domestic backdrops for our own lives. The specificities of Indian decor are typified in astonishing detail. Here are the Hindu gods and

  • slant December 08, 2017

    On the Ground: Dubai

    DO YOU REMEMBER THE DIALUP HANDSHAKE? Numbers being punched, assorted squeal-y gurgling, a series of high and low tones, and then the extended white noise? Dubai’s past decade of overtures towards the international art world felt a lot like this. The initial plaintive trilling gave way to a charging, moneyed insistence familiar to anyone on the global art circuit. We’ve finally logged on, and now it’s time to turn inward for phase two.

    In the mid-2000s, I would drive past a massive billboard hugging the side of the highway. It depicted a rendering of a new downtown development with scooped-out

  • picks May 02, 2017

    “Artist Run New York: The Seventies”

    America has never been hard to see in the Gulf, but until recently, its artists have been. Save for the odd institutional retrospective of works from overseas, Dubai’s art scene has mostly been dominated by the regional and the contemporary. The city predicates its self-mythology on a fetishization of the new (newer! newest!), and galleries follow suit. Yet just as decades of rapid expansion have given way to an embrace of infill architecture, so too has the art world begun to look backward, with a spate of historical—particularly Western-focused—shows. With a multidisciplinary approach that

  • diary March 20, 2017

    Real Surreal

    “IT’S SOMEWHERE BETWEEN a craft fair and gun show. Doesn’t it feel that way?” an artist observed, watching VIPs gamely shuffling to lackluster beats at the after party for Art Dubai’s Tuesday preview. The cash bar left many reminiscing about the heady nights, just a few fairs ago, of free-flowing libations and late, late fetes on the beach.

    Several attendees were heard wishing the DJ would play some Arabic “or at least Turkish” music. People from the region wanted to actually dance. As for those parachuting in from farther away (their numbers were up), were they not in Dubai precisely to carouse,

  • picks March 07, 2017

    Sophia Al-Maria

    In Sophia Al-Maria’s exhibition “EVERYTHING MUST GO,” the Gulf is presented not as a poreless luxury or futurist rendering, but rather as a teeming hypermarket. The artist mines a territory of frenzied consumerism similar to that depicted in her powerful installation at the Whitney last fall, yet here the dark, eschatological terror of that show is sanitized, and images of the Gulf are sold back to it, with markup.

    The thing about Gulf futurism is that it requires some distance from its source. It’s most seductive abroad, tending toward banality when reimported. Looped in a deadened side room,

  • picks December 08, 2016

    Raja’a Khalid

    A sharp intimacy suffuses Dubai-based Pakistani artist Raja’a Khalid’s show like the warmth of late afternoon sunlight. Reflections bounce off the iridescent automotive-paint-coated panels of High Noon (all works 2016), where tangerine gives way to deep orange, and Santa Barbara, which itself is seafoam but casts onto the floor a lurid green. Perhaps donning the US military-issue Oakleys set on a dune-textured altar of a shelf in sun and sand worship, or the bomber jacket, Solaro, would shield one from the light. Made from the titular suiting fabric, the latter’s underside is shot through with