No White Walls | Fairmont Bab Al Bahr

Painting is just another way of keeping a diaryPablo Picasso

Yesterday,  I took my uncultured self along to a local art exhibition at my favourite hotel, The Fairmont Bab Al Bahr here in Abu Dhabi. I like art and I like exhibitions, but I don’t profess to know anything about it, so any artists or art lovers reading this, apologies in advance!


I decided that the best way to write a post about art was to use the medium of photography as hopefully my photos would give you more of an insight into the exhibition and the artists than anything I can write. The ‘No White Walls’ exhibition is the combined work of seven artists based in the UAE, who are all exhibiting together for the first time. The artist-led initiative has been developed by a group of professional artists who live permanently in the UAE and much of their work is reflections of their lives  here in the region. Ibbini is also a founder of the Abu Dhabi based arts collective ‘Fannan’ which means art in arabic.


The exhibition space is unusual in that it’s a corridor with floor-to-ceiling windows on one side and runs alongside a cafe, The Chocolate Gallery on the other. While the large windows offer great views across the water and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, they also let in an incredible amount of sunlight which I personally found too reflective against all the glass surfaces (especially when trying to take photos) so I think I will have to go back at night to see the art in a different light.





Corridor under an art attack at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr

Having seen the work of Julia Ibbini, Emily Gordon and Jennifer Simon in a previous exhibition at the Fairmont, I was looking forward to seeing their latest offerings. All of their work is stunning in such different styles from each other and their own individual interpretations of Abu Dhabi. Ibbini layers and re-layers digital works, collaging then uses varnishes, paints, crystals and pins. The result is an explosion of colours and textures in every individual piece and her ‘Ode to Sea’ pieces are amazing,  I really wanted to buy one (stopped myself though) . Her inspiration comes from the world around her in Abu Dhabi where she has lived for over twenty years.




The work of Julia Ibbini

American Gordon has twenty-four years experience of living in AD to draw on for her inspiration in her colourful mixed media resin pieces. Each unique piece takes some studying to see her quirky additions and local landmarks and logos as well as her trademark arabic doors . I also wanted to buy one of her pieces, again I restrained myself!




Emily Gordon

Inspired by the work of Andy Warhol, British artist Simon’s work is bold and full of energy using spray paints among others, every piece is modern and colourful and would brighten up any wall. As well as contemporary cityscapes she produces unconventional caricatures of local inhabitants.





Jennifer Simon

Local art teacher Andrew Field (he teaches at my daughters school, BSAK) paints from the world around him here in AD, specialising in land and seascapes in watercolours and ink and his exhibited paintings are inspired by the beaches at Saadiyat and Yas islands



Andrew Field

Australian Kathryn Ryan who now lives in Dubai uses the environment around her for her “Shadow & Light’ series using charcoal to produce photorealistic drawings which are fantastic and the photos that I took do not do them justice.



Kathryn Ryan

American photographer Sean Blake is using his art to raise the profile of the need for more bone marrow donors after losing a friend to leukaemia and the plight of a young Arab girl who couldn’t find a suitable donor in this region . His photographs ‘The Untitled Chair Project’ document the journey of a red chair around the UAE (no photos unfortunately, as the reflective glass just meant lots of photos of me with my phone!) Everyone who has their portrait taken then signs the chair and so its story continues to grow with each photograph. The project is ongoing with no scheduled end date.


Sean Blake “The Untitled Chair Project”

The seventh artist in the collective is Janine Ibbini, mother of Julia, a textile artist, who launched her new collection ‘Palm Tree’ at this exhibition. Her pieces are brightly coloured and contemporary textile creations that includes hand printed fabrics which are truly stunning.





Janine Ibbini

I would throughly recommend checking out the exhibition if you are in AD. The hotel is very inviting in a fabulous setting with some great art on display. The Chocolate Gallery offers a delicious range of treats and I will be going back to check out the art again in the evening and maybe have a cocktail or two…… would be rude not too!


Entrance to Fairmont Bab Al BahrIMG_1100

The Chocolate Gallery cafeIMG_1107

Fairmont Fountains

The ‘No White Walls’ exhibition runs at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr until 1st of January 2014 and is sponsored by Royal Jet. For any of you not in AD, you can check out the ‘No White Walls’ page on Facebook.

Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2013. All rights reserved.

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