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Shaqayeq Arabi and Fereydoun Ave

November 2014

Roots, is about the beauty of nature and about respecting Mother Earth. The two artists, based in Dubai and Paris respectively, have explored different aspects of this theme in their own unique ways. Arabi has used found materials to create installations that speak of the destruction of our environment whereas Ave reflects on the cycle of energy and life in nature through his mixed-media paintings.

Arabi's studio is filled with a variety of materials that she picks up from the streets in Dubai. "I never know why I am attracted to these objects. But when I start working, these things find their place in my installations, and the reason I subconsciously picked them up becomes clear," she says.

The concept for this show was inspired by some uprooted bushes that she found lying by the side of a road. She brought them to her studio, covered them with a layer of wax and is presenting them in an illuminated glass case. Objects such as rags, wires and rope can be seen entwined in the dead branches and roots. And the artist has added pieces of paper torn out from a book of poems by Pablo Neruda. "Uprooted plants, covered with all kinds of rubbish, are a common sight in urban areas where new construction is taking place. They speak of growing urbanization, increasing pollution and our lack of regard for Mother Earth. I used Neruda's poem "Memories within me" in this work because these bushes carry a lot of memories within them. Covering the dead bushes with a layer of wax and putting them in a glass case expresses my desire to preserve nature, which is so precious," she says.

In other installations, Arabi has used palm saplings, and roots and trunks of palm trees that were uprooted to make way for new roads and buildings. The gnarled roots are suspended from the ceiling as a stark reminder of their cruel separation from the Earth, and of the growing distance between human beings and nature. The installations compel viewers to appreciate the beauty of nature as well as to think deeply about our relationship with it.

Ave's series of mixed-media paintings on paper and canvas, titled Winter Roots, also contemplates our relationship with nature. It features realistic illustrations of various root vegetables. Many of the paintings are split into horizontal sections, with each individual canvas representing  different strata of soil and the roots placed in the lower layers. "In winter we usually feel low in energy, and this can lead to depression. But I decided to use this in a creative way by making very realistic paintings of the different types of roots I was eating in winter. The process helped me to understand that energy cycles change with he seasons; subterranean, and gets concentrated in the roots, cocooned deep inside the womb of the Earth, to burst forth once again in the spring," Ave says.

Press coverage of the exhibition in Contemporary Practices magazine

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