Dubai’s Renowned Artspace Gallery Proudly Presents an Exhibition of Works by Mohammed Al Shammarey and Azar Emdadi.

Mohammed Al Shammarey , born in Baghdad, Iraq, 1962, is a self-taught artist. He is a member of the UNESCO International Association for Plastic Arts (AIAP), the Iraqi Artist Association, and the Iraqi Society of Plastic Artists. His work has been exhibited in the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe, including the 9th Cairo International Biennale, 2003–2004; the Frankfurt International Book Fair, 2004 and 2005; and Imagining the Book International Biennial, Alexandria Library, Egypt, 2005. In 2004, he received an award from the Festival of Mediterranean People, Bisceglie, Italy, and in 2003, the prize of Arab Pioneers from the Arab Pioneers Festival under the patronage of the Arab League. His body of work comprises video art, photography, book art, painting, and sculpture. He currently lives in the United States. Mohammed Al Shammarey’s work focuses on the humanistic elements of Islamic philosophy.

‘Without.’ This word anticipates a hotheaded young man emphatically stating: “Without love! Yes, how can we live life without love!” For a man of my age, and I am fifty and come from a country that makes one’s hair white quite prematurely, love is luck or a coincidence one chances upon. It is a state for which I don’t prepare even as I hope for it. I will be content with another word befitting a man of fifty, destined for the pathology of loneliness, feelings of nonchalance and fear of the future. It is a word I always felt intuitively without grasping: Yearning!

So it is about yearning, the feeling itself, which covers vast subjects in my life with particular attention paid to my spiritual life. I think yearning is truly a spiritual state, for it encompasses feelings toward absent elements, such as yearning for another life; or the powerful feeling of loss without knowing what it is that was lost; or the needs that surprise us and are related to desiring the sublime such as waking up at dawn and walking down empty streets and realizing that life is beautiful. One rarely submits to one’s heart’s desires, so you might not wake up at dawn, but you will keep obsessing about the idea. I had an affinity to an Islamic culture with humanist values and I had a semi-mystical desire to put my own internal life in order. Yearning, after all, teaches us and reorients our interests.

The mystical experience portrayed by Rumi in divine love, which we might not fully understand or be capable of, is reestablished through his love and respect of human life. It is a love that is in the realm of our contemporary struggle to defend human freedoms and rights.

I think mankind is searching for what it lost, or think it possessed but has forgotten because of its predatory obsession with life, greed, carelessness or distractions. One’s moral and spiritual desire is an attempt to regain lost innocence.

There are numerous practices and desires such as these in my Islamic culture but they are based on experiments in meditation and discipline, some of which are harsh, others requiring constant journey, solitude, asceticism, and a non-recognition of any temporal authority and the dedication of one’s soul to Allah alone.”

Azar Emdadi , born in Iran Western Azerbaijan, lives and works in South Yorkshire, UK. Azar obtained her BA in Multi-disciplinary Design specialising in Photography at Stafford shire Polytechnic in 1989. In 1996 these skills were developed further through a Postgraduate course in Gender Studies at Sheffield Hallam University, where Azar majored in the field of ‘Women in Film.’

The Artist’s uniquely intimate perspective, expressed through the medium of video and photography, has twice secured her the Yorkshire and Humberside Arts and Video Awards. These works have facilitated her current engagement with art based concerns, with particular emphasis on social, political and gender issues.

Azar Emdadi has held various exhibitions both in the UK and internationally, including a solo show at the World Cultural House of Berlin, Vatan Camiyyati (Homeland Society) in BAKU and in the UK shown work at Stoke on Trent Museum, Leicester City Hall, St David Hall Cardiff, Graves Art Gallery and London Ross Issa Project, She has also published, curated and taken part in gallery educational arts programmes.

The images exhibited explore the various paradoxes that exist within Iranian society today; the issues of public and private personas, the fractured identities, the censorship and strict social codes, which result in many Iranians living a double life.

The Last Supper was chosen as a globally known universal image - Christ’s Last Supper.

Food and eating plays an important part in Iranian culture, bringing people together on a daily basis. All 12 images have the same woman centre stage, representing women’s place at the heart of society, keeping the fabric of Iranian life together, as well as the exploration of sub-cultures.