Hussain Sharif: Cars, 2009. Image courtesy of AB Gallery, Luzern

Founded in 2007 by Abdul Raheem Sharif, The Flying House is an institution somewhere between a private museum and a platform to promote Emirati artists. Abdul Raheem decided to dedicate his own house, built in a charming Emirati style, to the work of his two artist brothers. Hassan and Hussain Sharif were among the founders of the Emirati Fine Arts Society back in 1980 and are seen as two of the UAE’s most important artists. They have exhibited their work frequently abroad.

Much of both Hassan and Hussain Sharif’s work turns around the consumer society gone haywire in Dubai, and its residues. Other Emirati artists of the generation that founded the Emirati Fine Arts Society show similar sensitivity to the environmental, social and aesthetic results of Dubai’s rapid transformation. See for example the art of Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, founder of the Art Atelier in Khorfakkan,  Sharjah’s Indian Ocean port.

Established at the time that Dubai was becoming a hotbed for regional and international art, The Flying House immediately acquired legendary status as being the only contemporary art space that showcased internationally recognized Emirati art – the institution also has worked with other Emirati artists besides the Sharif brothers. Its difficulties in finding funding (described among others by Michael Schindhelm in his book Dubai High) were seen as testimony to the lack of attention to Emirati art.

Since then Dubai and The Flying House have evolved. The latter is no longer the prime venue to ‘experience’ the local contemporary art scene: it now serves mainly as museum and network node of veteran Emirati artists. It can be visited by appointment only. It is advisable to book an appointment a few days ahead.


Hassan Sharif, installation of used slippers and wire, seen at the Sydney Biennale of 2009. Photo courtesy the artist and The Flying House

Written by: RobertK Last modified: 31st Oct 2012
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