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17 January 2017

La Serre, the eatery tacked on to the Vida Downtown, has been running an Aspiring Artist Initiative for some time – new(ish) artists get their work shown on the restaurant’s walls, and two have benefitted from the programme so far.

Amirali Izadi, Untitled, 2015. Mixed media on canvas, 140 x 140 cm

In the past we’ve found the exhibition policy to be a bit variable both in term of selection and presentation, but then you probably shouldn’t expect people who know how to run a restaurant to be equally adept at evaluating and selecting artists to exhibit.

So La Serre’s walls should be more interesting in the next couple of months now that the downstairs boulangerie (brilliant breakfasts, btw, with possibly the best eggs benedict in town) is partnering with online art gallery EMERGEAST for a group show.

As the name indicates, EMERGEAST specialises in emerging Middle Eastern artists and has several excellent (and relatively inexpensive) examples on its books. Outsourcing the selection of artists in this way has been very successful, with six artists showing generally high-quality works at mid-market prices. Pegah Lari is probably the best known though

Elham Etemadi, Fantaisie sur la plage, 2015. Acrylic on canvas, 160 x1 90 cm

Pegah Lari (above) is probably the best known of them, given to fluorescent colours and highly decorative canvases that seem a natural for the average Dubai home. By contrast, Amirali Izadi uses a palette knife to make calligraphic characters in thick layers of (often monochromatic) paint. The third Iranian in this group, Elham Etemadi, has a more European style reminiscent of some 1950s Mediterranean artists.

Ghada Al Muhammedi, Untitled. Acrylic on canvas, 120 x 60 cm

We also liked Zaina El Said‘s exuberant digital collages, especially the Bowie homage below. Ghada Al Muhammadi is another really interesting option, especially for potential investors – this Saudi artist is winning recognition for a style that matches Arabian iconography with a more intimate, personal statement about being a woman in this region.

If we had to pick one, though, magpie’s money would be spent on something by Damascus-born Anas Homsi (also below). He uses bold, lively colours and big, gestural strokes in his abstracts; these paintings speak of a busy imagination, often enthusiasm, generally a love of life. They’d be very easy to live with.

Prices for most of these fall in the range $2,000 to $4,000, with Zaina El Said’s digital prints around $400 (though Bowie’s World is $800).

The walls of the ground floor Boulangerie are effectively being used as an art gallery space, with work on sale of course (directly from the gallery, not from La Serre). EMERGEAST at La Serre will run through into March, after which La Serre reverts to its own choice of artist … and if you think that should be you, we’re told that you can contact [email protected] for the chance to pitch your work.

Above: Pegah Lari, Jasmine and Pearls. 2014. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 100 x 80 cm


Anas Homsi, Soul Searching. Acrylic on canvas, 75 x 150 cm


Zaina El Said, Bowie’s World. 2015. Digital collage, Edition of 5, 112 x 84 cm


17 January 2017
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La Serre
Vida Downtown Hotel
Dubai,United Arab Emirates
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