Ayyam Gallery (Damascus, Beirut, Dubai) is pleased to present an exhibition of works by acclaimed Lebanese artist and architect Nadim Karam, which will inaugurate the gallery’s first European location at 143 New Bond Street, London.
Karam’s multi-disciplinary approach incorporates painting, drawing, sculpture and writing. Fusing various cultural influences, Karam’s works transcend social, political and national borders, forming a unique pictorial language, replete with recurring symbols, and with its own original characters and narratives. They form an alphabet of sorts, in what is an on-going, sometimes absurdist, exploration of the creative power of dreams.
Renowned for his public art and work in urban regeneration, Karam has most recently been lauded for his architectural plan The Cloud, which made international headlines for its revolutionary ideas on how to reconfigure public space amidst Dubai’s growing cityscape. Karam’s projects and installations are interventions that seek to animate cities as diverse as Melbourne, Prague, Dubai, Beirut, London and Nara, Japan. These interventions often take the form of large-scale steel sculptures, described as ‘urban toys’ by the artist. For Karam, it is not only we, as humans, who need to dream, but our cities too – his urban toys are acts of whimsy and a rebellion against the soulless nature of so many modern spaces, bringing to life the environments around him. Says Karam: “Each urban toy has a message. An open message ready to be inhabited by stories which become mingled with history.”
The exhibition at Ayyam London will comprise a series of new paintings, rich in colour and presenting a playful, almost satirical, perception of love and war. These will be shown alongside editions of his iconic steel sculptural works, recent examples of which have taken on a reflective quality, with burnished surfaces, rusted browns and even beads and buttons making way for highly polished mirrored steel. Pieces both reproduce the world around them and disappear into it, becoming one with their surroundings.
Born in 1957 in Senegal, Nadim Karam lives and works in Beirut. In 1996, he established Atelier Hapsitus, a satellite grouping of young Lebanese architects and designers, that seeks to create an original urban vocabulary though large-scale art installation and architectural works for various cities worldwide.
Karam’s work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide, as well as biennales including Venice, Liverpool, and Gwangju. His sculptural series, Closets & Closets, is currently on display at the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris. Past publications include The Cloud, The Desert and The Arabian Breeze (2007); Urban Toys, (2006) and Voyage (2000). A forthcoming monograph will be published by Skira in 2013.
About Ayyam Gallery
Founded by collectors and cousins Khaled and Hisham Samawi in Damascus in 2006, Ayyam Gallery sought to nurture Syria’s burgeoning and dynamic contemporary art scene through landmark non-profit initiatives such as the Shabab Ayyam Project, an incubator for emerging artists. Expansion into Beirut and Dubai enabled Ayyam Gallery to broaden its scope from the promotion of work by Syrian artists to those from the wider Middle East region. In doing so, Ayyam Gallery has established itself as one of the foremost exponents of Middle Eastern contemporary art to the international community.
Today Ayyam Gallery is recognised as a leading cultural voice in the region, representing a roster of Arab and Iranian artists with an international profile and museum presence, such as Nadim Karam, Safwan Dahoul, Samia Halaby, Sadik Alfraji, Afshin Pirhashemi and Khaled Takreti. In 2013 two new galleries will open in London and Jeddah. A number of non-commercial exhibitions, as well
as the launch of Ayyam Publishing, Ayyam Editions, and The Young Collectors Auctions, have further succeeded in showcasing the work of Middle Eastern artists with the aim of educating a wider audience about the art of this significant region. In 2013 two new galleries will open in London and Jeddah. Ayyam Damascus currently functions as a studio and creative haven for artists who remain in the war-torn city.