Six major permanent public artworks were commissioned by Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019 to celebrate people of determination as part of the legacy of the Games. Developed in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi, the works were created by six internationally renowned artists in a commissioning process managed by Abu Dhabi Art.
Artists: Etel Adnan (Sfeir-Semler Gallery) | Mehmet Ali Uysal (Pi Artworks) | Nadim Karam (Ayyam Gallery) | Noh Jun (Leehwaik Gallery) | Pascale Marthine Tayou (GALLERIA CONTINUA) | Wael Shawky (Lisson Gallery)
Location: Manarat Al Saadiyat, Saadiyat Island
Born in Beirut, Lebanon, 1925
Etel Adnan is a contemporary American-Lebanese painter and writer known for her vibrantly coloured, abstracted renditions of mountains, ocean and sky.
Born on February 24, 1925 in Beirut, Lebanon, she studied philosophy at the Sorbonne in Paris and at U.C. Berkeley before writing her famous novel Sitt Marie-Rose, which was published in Paris in 1977. The novel was enormously influential and has since been translated into more than 10 languages.
Adnan’s works poetically interpret the Northern Californian landscape around San Francisco Bay, where she has spent much of her life. “When I do a painting, it may be like a landscape, but there is more to it,” she has said. “You don’t recognise what landscape it is, as it is not a particular landscape — it is maybe a memory of a particular landscape. Art has a political function in the sense that it brings something life-enhancing, a desire for life.”Adnan was featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial and is included in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the British Museum in London, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, among others. Adnan currently lives and works between Paris, France and Sausalito, CA.
Mehmet Ali Uysal, b. 1976, Mersin, Turkey, lives and works in Paris, France.
Major exhibitions include; Ne m’abandonne pas (solo), Galerie Paris-Beijing, Paris, France (2020); Don't Abandon Me (solo), Pi Artworks Istanbul, Turkey (2019); A Pillar of Smoke, Arles International Photo Festival, France (2018); Hi! (solo), Sapar Contemporary, New York, USA (2016); Block (solo), Pi Artworks London, UK (2015); The Past (solo), Pearl Lam Gallery, Shanghai, China (2014); Pinch Me Awake (solo), Stiftung Starke, Berlin, Germany (2013); Peel (solo), Nesrin Esirtgen Collection, Istanbul, Turkey (2012); Eyeballing, Contemporary Arts Centre, Ankara, Turkey (2012), If the Nature is Heaven, the City is Hell, Cer Modern, Ankara, Turkey (2011); Abbara Kadabra, 1st Mardin Biennial, Turkey (2010).
Major collections include; Audi Collection (Audi Bank Lebanon), Beirut, Lebanon; Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019, Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi, UAE; City of Umea Collection, Sweden; Chaudfontaine Parks Public Collection, Liege, Belgium; Golden Harvest Group Art Collection, India; Le Vent des Forets Festival Public Collection, Meuse, France; Jaidah Brothers Art Collection, Doha, Qatar; Ozyeğin University Collection, Turkey; Samdani Art Foundation, Bangladesh; Taviloglu Collection, Istanbul, Turkey; Allianz Collection, Istanbul, Turkey; Capital Partners Art Collection, Istanbul, Turkey; Kemer Country Club Collection, Istanbul, Turkey and Vehbi Koc Foundation, Turkey.
The multidisciplinary practice of Lebanese artist and architect Nadim Karam incorporates painting, drawing, sculpture, and writing in the creation of bold and inspiring, uncanny artworks that challenge common preconceptions. With a background that fuses Oriental and Japanese theories of space, Karam has created his own concepts and a distinct artistic vocabulary that tackles the universality of the human condition, working towards the reconfiguration of environments. His research focusses on the conviction that cities need to dream, and it is the role of artists to provoke this dream, injecting art into still structures by setting up silent, yet palpable, cultural movers with the power to act as magnets that influence the paths of people. Thus, cities are often the inspiration and target sites of his groundbreaking conceptual proposals and initiatives.
Born in 1957 in Senegal, Karam lives and works in Beirut, where in 1996 he founded, and still leads, a satellite grouping of Lebanese architects and designers: Atelier Hapsitus. Based on a cross-fertilisation of disciplines and nationalities, the twenty-year-old practice has a multidisciplinary composition, which feeds into the experimental nature of its work.
Karam initially trained in architecture at the American University of Beirut before travelling to Japan in 1982 to attend the University of Tokyo. In Japan, he studied with world-renowned architects and thinkers Hiroshi Hara, Fumihiko Maki, and Tadao Ando, and earned a doctorate in architecture. He was the Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Art, and Design at Notre Dame University – Louaize in Lebanon (2000-2003) and taught architectural design at the American University of Beirut (1993-1995; 2003-2004).
Karam has been commissioned to create large-scale urban art installations for cities across the globe and has participated in international events such as the Liverpool (2006), Venice (1996), and Gwangju (1995) biennales. Recently he has held solo
shows at The Fine Art Society, London (2017); Ayyam Gallery Beirut, Dubai, and London (2017, 2013), and has been featured in group exhibitions at venues such as Ayyam.Gallery, Al Quoz 1, Dubai (2018); Custot Gallery, Dubai (2018); Ayyam
Gallery, Beirut (2014); the Shanghai JSIP Biennale (2014); Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris (2013); Villa Empain, Brussels (2012); and the Royal College of Art, London (2012).
Nadim Karam’s latest book Stretching Thoughts was published by Booth Clibborn Editions, London in 2013. Works from the same series were mounted in UWC Atlantic College, Wales in 2016.
Noh Jun is a contemporary sculptor born in 1969 who lives and works in South Korea. By creating his own unique characters, Noh Jun had brought our children friendly characters such as Clo, Hayami, and Kiki etc. These characters are generated from the relationship between humans and animals dreaming of genuine bonding and hopes. So that, restoration of relationship is a common theme that runs throughout his life-long oeuvre. The public collection includes the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Korea and Seoul Museum of Art, Seoul etc. Also, his work “Light of Love and Happiness”, which features a cute boy and a girl holding their favourite dolls and catching the Olympic torch together, was selected as a public art commissioned by the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi 2019.
Pascale Marthine Tayou’s works not only mediate between cultures, and set man and nature in ambivalent relations to each other, but are produced in the knowledge that they are social, cultural or political constructions.
His work is deliberately mobile, elusive of pre-established schema, heterogeneous. It is always closely linked to the idea of travel and of coming into contact with what is other-to-self, and is so spontaneous that it almost seems casual. The objects, sculptures, installations, drawings and videos produced by Tayou have a recurrent feature in common: they dwell upon an individual moving through the world and exploring the issue of the global village. And it is in this context that Tayou negotiates his African origins and related expectations.
Pascale Marthine Tayou was born in Nkongsamba, Cameroon in 1966 and lives and works between Ghent, Belgium and Yaoundé, Cameroon.
Based on extensive periods of research and enquiry, Wael Shawky’s work tackles notions of national, religious and artistic identity through film, performance and storytelling. Whether instructing Bedouin children to act out the construction of an airport runway in the desert or organising a heavy metal concert in a remote Egyptian village, Shawky frames contemporary culture through the lens of historical tradition and vice versa. Mixing truth and fiction, childlike wonder and spiritual doctrine, Shawky has staged epic recreations of the medieval clashes between Muslims and Christians in his trilogy of puppets and marionettes – titled Cabaret Crusades: The Horror Show Files (2010), The Path to Cairo (2012) and The Secrets of Karbala (2015) – while his three-part film, Al Araba Al Madfuna, uses child actors to recount poetic myths, paying homage, rather than mere lip-service, to the important narratives of yesteryear. Wael Shawky was born in Alexandria in 1971 where he lives and works.
Recent solo exhibitions have been held at ARoS, Aarhus Kunstmuseum, Aarhus,Denmark (2018); Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Yinchaun, China (2017); Castello di Rivoli, Turin, Italy (2016); Fondazione Merz, Turin, Italy (2016); Kunsthaus Bregenz, Austria (2016); Fondazione Merz, Zurich, Switzerland (2016); MATHAF, Doha, Qatar (2015) and MoMA P.S.1, New York, NY, USA (2015); K20 Düsseldorf, Germany (2014-15); Serpentine Galleries, London, UK (2013-14); KW Contemporary Art Institute, Berlin, Germany (2012); Nottingham Contemporary, UK (2011); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA (2011); Delfina Foundation, London, UK (2011) and Cittadellarte – Fondazione Pistoletto, Biella, Italy (2010). He has participated in the 14th Istanbul Biennial, Turkey (2015); the 11th Sharjah Biennial, UAE (2013); Documenta 13, Kassel, Germany (2012); the 9th Gwangju Biennial, South Korea (2012); SITE Santa Fe Biennial, NM, USA (2008); the 9th Istanbul Biennial, Turkey (2005); and the 50th Venice Biennale, Italy (2003). Recent awards include the inaugura
© Wael Shawky;Courtesy Lisson Gallery.
Artist Portrait, 2014