From the article: ‘The UAE seems so preoccupied with its present and future, we sometimes forget it has a past. Nowhere is this truer than in the realm of culture. Thinking about the UAE of the 1970s conjures up images of barren lands punctuated by lone skyscrapers. Yet artistically, this period was bristling with an experimental fervour that seems relegated to a past as dusty as that forlorn landscape.
Some names – Hassan Sharif, the Group of Five – ring a distant bell. But their pioneering creativity in the nascent UAE has surprisingly little currency today, like a background hum amid the clamour of thriving galleries and looming museums.
Two voices pierce this din: the Dubai-based Mohammed Kazem, a former student of Hassan Sharif and a pillar of the Group of Five, recently nominated to represent the UAE at the 55th Venice Biennale; and Kazem’s one-time student, Ebtisam Abdulaziz, a distinguished Sharjah-based artist with a string of biennials to her credit, and who is participating in the Delfina Foundation’s Artist-in-Residence, which has just started in Dubai.’
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