The Art Gallery at NYU Abu Dhabi presents a panel discussion with artists Mohamed Al Mazrouei and Mays Albeik, moderated by Salwa Mikdadi, a leading expert on the history of Modern Arab art.

The panel will explore issues relevant to the current exhibition Diana Al-Hadid: Phantom Limb through the eyes of the panelists. Both Al Mazrouei and Albeik’s work deal with unusual materials and subtle but distinct biographical references, all relevant issues for Diana Al-Hadid’s work as well. These artists will present and talk about the materiality and the biographical aspect of their artistic practice, and the different strategies they use in their creative process.

Mohamed Al Mazrouei

Al Mazrouei spent the first half of his life in Egypt before moving to Abu Dhabi where he worked for the Cultural Foundation for many years. This duality informs his creative process whereby he often incorporates elements of both cultures in his artwork, leading to an autobiographical experience. Mohamed has held four solo exhibitions in the UAE and has taken part in many group exhibitions over the years both locally and abroad. He is an accomplished writer and poet with nine publications to date, some of them translated into German, English and Spanish. He has also won two first prizes for his photography.

Mohamed Al Mazrouei’s artwork manifests a conceptual depth inviting the viewer to get lost inside the artist’s head. The human face and figure are often his preferred subjects to paint. However with a rich, non-linear training, Mazrouei’s approach to the abstract incorporates black and white in absolute purity. Like letters or musical notes, lines and colours fuse together to create a composition that strives for a sense of equilibrium. His delineation of a particular object challenges traditional shapes, begging the eye to decipher elements of his compositions.

Mays Albeik

A Palestinian refugee of the third generation, Mays Albeik was born and raised in the United Arab Emirates. Her practice focuses on attempts to explore and understand the stories that have implicitly shaped her identity, using an array of referential materials, such as concrete blocks and candle-wax, and conceptually significant processes that include building, melting, moving and dislocating.

In 2014, Albeik was awarded the first runner-up in The Abu Dhabi Book Fair’s short story competition, and a place among the 12 fellows of the Salama Bint Hamdan Emerging Artist Fellowship. Albeik’s work has been shown in The Sharjah Art Foundation, Hunar Gallery, Sikka art fair, Tashkeel and Warehouse 411. Her stories have been published by The National and The Outpost Magazine.

Salwa Mikdadi

Salwa Mikdadi specializes in the history of modern and contemporary art of the Arab world. Prior to joining the NYUAD, Mikdadi worked at Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority where she established the professional development program for museum professionals including a customized executive program (2012 – 2014) and was a lecturer at the Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi in the postgraduate program – History of Art and Museum Studies (2010-May 2014). Mikdadi was the Executive Director of the Arts and Culture Program at the Emirates Foundation in Abu Dhabi (2009-2012). She wrote the reference guide on the history of the twentieth-century art of West Asia, North Africa and Egypt for the Metropolitan Museum of Art Timeline web pages and is the editor and co-editors of several publications on the subject. She conducted research in Jordan, the West Bank, UAE, Syria and Lebanon on the governance and management of museums and art institutions. Mikdadi curated several exhibitions including the first Palestinian collateral exhibition at the Venice Biennial in 2009. She was the co-founder and director of the Cultural & Visual Arts Resource/ICWA, a non-for-profit organization dedicated to the study and exhibit of art of the Arab world in the United States (1988-2006). Mikdadi is a founding board member of the Association of Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab world, Iran and Turkey.