MEEM GALLERY Al Quoz
Back in 2008, Meem put together an influential show of print works by Arab artists. Now it returns to the theme, with an exhibition that brings together work by Dia Azzawi, Kamal Boullata, Marwan, Mohammad Omar Khalil and the late Rafa Nasiri.
Printmaking is a seductive, subversive way of approaching art; the technique is itself attractive, for instance to play withsuccessive variations of the original print, and the ability to produce multiple copies hints at the democratization of the work – there’s no longer a single owner because the art can be reproduced legitimately. And even though Meem is showing solus or limited edition works, there’s still a direct connection to handbills, flyposting, even Ikea’s instant interior decoration frames.
Arab Print Vol II highlights different forms of printmaking – etching, aquatint, lithograph, screenprint – and shows just want the techniques can achieve. Inevitably prints are as 2D a medium as you can get, and they work well for the flat graphic-design geometrics of Kamal Boullata and Mohammed Omar Khalil.
But the application of colour can be delicate and sensitive; check out the tonal monochromatic works in soft hues from both artists.
Printmaking can have a real connection to a local style, too. Azzawi and Nasiri deal with the abstract but also use icons, two Iraqi artists who are creating works that are do seem quintessentially Iraqi in style. And Marwan’s etchings of the human form suggest early Durer – not a bad reference point for a printmaker.