27 Feb 2024 - 15 Mar 2024


ICD Brookfield Place


 ICD Brookfield Place Arts in Dubai presents Chiaroscuro, a new exhibition of 20 artists and designers curated by Michèle Lamy, presented in collaboration with Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Opening on the 27 February 2024, Chiaroscuro brings together internationally renowned artists and designers, including Rick Owens, Nacho Carbonell and Studio Drift with leading regional voices such as Latifa Saeed and Omar Al Gurg to explore the dichotomy of light and dark. Running at the same time as the Art Dubai fair, the exhibition finds inspiration in the city’s starkly contrasting landscape as it shifts from day to night. 

Lamy divides the show into these two states, beginning with “The Darkness” and inviting viewers into a mysterious space where beguiling forms take shape in the depths. This section is rooted primarily in work from Rick Owens, the tigré pattern of his Gallic Chair evokes alternating shadows that ground the artist’s practice in the rich materials of stone and wood. 

Many works in this section incorporate the rich brown hues of bronze, with imposing forms catching subdued light in Wendell Castle’s The Light of Darkness while Atelier Van Lieshout’s Blast Furnace Cabinet and Mammal Lamp use an industrial aesthetic to imagine a synthesis of man and machine. Kendell Geers then unsettles and challenges the viewer with the muted masked works of Flesh of the Spirit, which merge bronze with old broken materials to question our perception of African art. 

From here, “The Light” becomes an evocation of fire and is celebrated as ‘nature’s sculptor’. This part of the exhibition explores the power of light and its ability to bend materials on various scales – from the glass and metals used to build the city of Dubai to intricate objects of astounding beauty crafted by true masters. 

Chiaroscuro attempts to redefine materiality through the various objects on display, pushing the material boundary through its medium, colour and finishing. For example, as in the smooth, artfully curved concrete of Rick OwensPedaló chair and rare marble of Curial White Marble, as well as Vincenzo de Cotiis’ reimagined Renaissance arches, and the malleability of stone and glass in David/Nicolas’ table Constellation C020. 

Similarly, Khaled Zaki’s marble sculpture Serene continues his recent work representing human and animal subjects in abstract, geometric forms. Inspired by the traditional hair braiding practices of the women in the United Arab Emirates, Latifa Saeed additionally presents a special edition of her Braided series created in collaboration with studio MĒRU. Conceptual Artist Zeinab Alhashemi experiments with a variety of materials to position the viewer over the intangible boundary between the natural and artificial. While her work is reminiscent of the traditional landscape due to colour and textures, such familiarity is quickly disturbed by the striking contrast arising from the use of industrial materials such as steel – suddenly reminding of human interference. 

Other works use light as a key part of their composition. Studio Drift’s Fragile Futures sits at the intersection of nature and technology in using hundreds of dandelion heads fixed to a copper lattice. Meanwhile, the Verhoeven Twins create valleys and voids that invite viewers to explore shape and light through their floating glass bubble sculptures. 

Lamy then considers the influx of colour illuminated by light through vivid works inspired by the Pop Art movement, namely Maarten Baas’s Children’s Clocks, the Campana BrothersDolphins and Sharks Banquete Chair, Jose Davila’s Lichtenstein-inspired prints, Martin Laforêt’s concrete Variations seats and Studio Job’s cartoon-like sculptures. Similarly characterised by pure gestures of colour, Roger Herman’s ceramic vases present a differing neo-expressionist approach. 

Lastly, two contrasting works by Nacho Carbonell illustrate the polarities of Chiaroscuro. Bathed in light, the polychromatic canopy of Combi Cocoon 2 shines with a warmth reminiscent of the Spanish artist’s homeland, while the brooding glow lights punctuate the voluminous black shades of Inside a Forest. Also straddling both light and dark, Omar Al Gurg exhibits his uniquely interactive, fun and playful style in his customisable Spike sculptures. 

Populating the central atrium of ICD Brookfield Place with innovative pieces by the most exciting global art and design talent of today, Chiaroscuro demonstrates the importance of both day and night in moulding our understanding of the world: without one, the other cannot exist. 

Michèle Lamy, curator of Chiaroscuro, elaborates: “’We are interrelated’, said poet Etel Adnan. I am proud to have been given the chance by Carpenters Workshop Gallery and ICD Brookfield Place Arts to reimagine our world, this time through the works of so many incredible local and universal artists. I am fighting for a new way of being through these dark and challenging times we are living through and have used their works to interpret my vision between light and dark, to envision better times.” 

Malak Abu-Qaoud, curator of ICD Brookfield Place Arts, says of the collaboration with Carpenters Workshop Gallery: “We are excited to present Michèle Lamy’s curatorial approach through the selection of regional and international artists. It is a great pleasure to work alongside Carpenters Workshop Gallery to create a cross-cultural exhibition as an opportunity to merge their expertise in global art, sculpture and design with our mission to provide a gateway for talent. Chiaroscuro invites visitors to experience outstanding work from the Middle East and beyond.” 

Julien Lombrail, founder of Carpenters Workshop Gallery, says: “It is always interesting to present the work of our artists within new locations and contexts. The landscape of Dubai offers a new perspective on the work of some of our most iconic artists and none are more iconic than Michele Lamy. It has been our pleasure to discover the work of the regional artists who are participating and to work with Michele and the team and ICD Brookfield Place to bring together what we know will be a fascinating dialogue across cultures and disciplines.” 

Press release from ICD Brookfield

Image: Installation view of Chiaroscuro at ICD Brookfield Place, Dubai, 2024. Photography by Ismail Noor. Image courtesy of ICD Brookfield Place and Carpenters Workshop Gallery