- Published on Saturday, 24 March 2012 19:09
- Category: Art
The concept of “the future” has often been the subject of art, literature, and cinema with the question, “what will tomorrow look like?” pressing on the minds of many over the centuries. Between the turmoil currently afflicting the greater Middle East from the aftermath of the Arab Spring in Egypt and Libya, the plague of unrest that still pummels opposition in Syria, and the heightened tensions between Iran and Israel, the threat of continuing conflict into the future between disparate groups seems inevitable.
So is that it? Should humanity resign itself to thinking of the future in such a pessimistic light?
San Francisco-based artist Ala Ebtekar has a slightly different future in mind. In his international solo exhibition presented at Third Line Gallery in Dubai, Elsewhen is a glittering show of heady images of a future in which reality and mythology collide, creating a hybridity between past, present and future that blurs the line of dream world and real world.
Comprised of mixed media digital prints, the saturated colors and dynamic compositions of Ebtekar’s works in Elsewhen beckon the viewer to take a close inspection of each work as an individual exhibition in its own right. Inspired by classical Islamic poetry from canonized writers including 14th century Persian poet Hāfez, Ebtekar draws from a tradition not exercised to a great extent in the Islamic world, where artworks and poetry concentrate on the present. Rather, he focuses on envisioning what lies beyond the now.
“I decided to attempt to translate some of the ideas and themes I’d been working on in the book into large-scale stills,” Ebtekar explains. In creating the concept for the exhibition, Ebtekar had “the desire to look towards the future. I’ve been working with the gallery [The Third Line] for a while now. For this show, they contacted me, and I was in the middle of working on this series [Elsewhen].”
“It just made sense,” he continued. “I’ve been working with Chine-Collé in a very new way,” said Ebtekar, of his selection of medium for the exhibition. “I’ve been painting directly on photographs and prints in a lot of my work for the past several years, but this is a new process and way of working.”
The gallery, he saw, created the perfect setting for these works. “I was more inspired to make site-specific works after doing a walk-through of the gallery space with curator Antonia Marten [of The Third Line],” he explained, describing the gallery’s clean surrounding as a malleable balance where each individual image can stand out and develop its own meaning apart from the other works on display. “Once they [the artworks] are hung, there’s the appropriate space and context to experience it.” A vacant landscape, essentially, and critical to the works taking the gallery’s center stage, challenging viewers to focus on art, not distractions from its surrounding environment. “I’m really happy how [the art] feels. How it inhibits the space,” Ebtekar explained.
It’s a rare glimpse at what the future holds, not just for the rest of us, but also for a young artist destined to awe us many times again.By Erin Joyce, Aslan Media Contributing Writer