Alexander Gray Associates
Art Basel Miami Beach 2015
Image: Sharif, Ladies and Gentlemen, 2014

Art Basel Miami Beach | Galleries Sector | Booth K3

Alexander Gray Associates presented recent and historical work by Hassan Sharif (b.1951), focusing on weaving as method and metaphor. Recognized as a pioneer of conceptual art and experimental practice in the United Arab Emirates, over the past four decades Sharif has transgressed traditional frameworks for art making by extending his practice to performance, installation, drawing, painting, and assemblage that integrates ordinary objects as the primary medium.

After familiarizing himself with the ideas of Dada and Fluxus art during his studies in the early 1980s at Byam Shaw School of Art in London, Sharif created performance-based works engaging repetition, landscape and the body, motifs that would continue throughout his practice. Sharif began weaving common objects he encountered in his native Sharjah and Dubai–such as ropes, cloth, newspapers, cardboard, rugs, plates, and spoons—to create artworks. By cutting, bending, grouping, and braiding these cultural artifacts, the artists sheds their functionality to enhance their aesthetic and political significance. As art historian Paulina Kolczynska explained, “Like a cultural anthropologist, Sharif created an interesting synthesis of the visual landscape, as seen through the prism of an influx of objects amid a quickly changing lifestyle.”

Rooted in conceptual performance, Sharif’s rhythmic act of weaving echoes the unconscious functions of the human body, such as eating, breathing, and walking, by associating them with domestic objects. For his recent large-scale wall-sculpture Ladies and Gentlemen (2014), Sharif assembled mass-produced and inexpensive female and male shoes, into a tapestry object that emphasizes seriality and the dislocation of functional objects. Through this act he transforms and synthesizes these seemly impersonal articles in order to question authorship, labor, commercialism, social doctrine, gender and migration.

Also presented are Sharif’s “Objects,” such as Plugs No. 1 (2014), a group of assorted plugs bagged in mesh packets, which speak to the increasing modernization and industrialization occurring in U.A.E. Sharif began conceptualizing his “Objects” in the 1980s, buying ordinary articles in local markets that are manipulated into sculptures infused with humor and randomness, rendering the defining characteristics of mass-produced utilitarian materials as political and socioeconomic commentaries on present-day society. As the artist expressed, “I inject my works with a realism that exposes this socio-political economic monster, allowing people a chance to recognize the danger of over indulgence in this form of negative consumption.”

Public Sector | Film Sector
The Gallery’s participation in Art Basel Miami Beach’s Public Sector features Melvin EdwardsUkpo. Edo (1993/1996), a large stainless steel sculpture that references the artist’s travels to Nigeria and showcases as principal motif a large welded chain that embodies both the history of slavery and oppression, while also symbolizing the links between people and cultures. For the Film Sector the Gallery will present Morfas (1981) by Regina Silveira, an experimental video exploring perspective studies, formal manipulation, and topographical mapping.