Exhibition Of The Month: Seham By Almaha Jaralla

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Emirati creative Almaha Jaralla invites us on a journey through the last four decades of Abu Dhabi with her first solo exhibition

Thought you knew Abu Dhabi? Think again. Through a series of mixed media works on canvas telling the story of the artist’s own archival family portraits taken during the 1980s, Emirati artist Almaha Jaralla opens a window into the essence of the city during a period of rapid social and physical transformation in the Gulf. “I was born in the 90s, when Abu Dhabi was already experiencing massive growth,” the artist tells MOJEH. “Growing up, I lived in the heart of the city, and I have fond memories of the well- maintained streets, beautiful fountains, and the abundance of parks and malls. However, one day, everything changed when we crossed the Al Maqtaa Bridge, and I was exposed to the desert for the first time. It was a surreal experience that left a lasting impression on me.”

Seham’s mixed media works on canvas pioneer new notions of the conventional family portrait.

Loaded upon unconventional canvases that the artist has fashioned from traditional men’s garments referred to as maawaz, her work highlights the fashions and family dynamics of the era — a moment when parks and benches were physical spaces that shaped the community and when large family outings were commonplace. The exhibition, named Seham, unravels the past to help make sense of the present. “It’s common to hear people say: ‘This place didn’t exist’ or ‘Abu Dhabi was different back then’. However, as someone who was born into a city that had already undergone significant change, I find it fascinating to explore this transformation through my artwork,” she adds. Almaha Jaralla’s Seham will run from 4 May – 1 September at Tabari Art Space, Gate Village 3, DIFC. Learn more

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