Yesterday Is Tomorrow’s Memory, an exhibition in Dubai that revisits North African art

The National | By Anna Seaman
The Yesterday Is Tomorrow's Memory exhibition in Dubai's Elmarsa Gallery offers visitors an engaging history lesson as well as a spectacular visual treat.
It presents a cross-section of key works by major artists who have played an important role in the history of modern and contemporary art from the Maghreb region - or more specifically, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. The show features the work of 23 artists, effectively pooling the best Elmarsa has to offer.
The studio, which opened in Dubai in November, was founded in 1994 in Tunis and has developed an impressive stable of artists. This exhibition affords an opportunity to showcase the length and breadth of the collections.
The ground floor covers ­mostly contemporary work from the past few years. Standout pieces include Omar Bey's Once Upon a Time (2016), in which the artist - who uses a variety of media to express his often politically charged statements - depicts a woodpecker drilling holes into graphically stylised skulls to evoke the absurdity of the modern condition. At 35, Atef Maatallah is the youngest artist in the exhibition. On show are two pieces from his series Automne - oil portraits of subjects with dazed, deadened eyes that suggest a detachment from reality, a reference to the sense of loss and confusion experienced by young people in the region.
June 26, 2016
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