Interview with Xenia Gazi: Art Curator and Artist in UAE and not only…
– Where and how did you find your creativity and passion for art?
“Since my childhood, the earliest that I can remember was when I was around 4 years old and I was singing. Later on I added musical instruments to my singing and started playing the piano and double-bass. I also started dancing and began with step dance and latino and in between I went to ceramic and pottery studios and started by creating my first breakfast bowl and mug. During the weekends I painted with my mum and thus fed my creativity and passion for art …it was an important part of my upbringing and childhood.
When I was around 12 I used to mix cooking flour with water and glue, pieces of newspaper and I then “used” every member of the family and asked them to lie down and cover their faces with my special mixture in order to create an imprint of their faces. I painted them and then I decorated the whole house with it.
Then life took me on a completely different road: I hold a diploma in Business Management and Project Planning and spent many years in different sectors, from public relations, HR to managing teams of people. I have been living in various parts of the world – England, Tunisia, France, Egypt, Scotland and for the past 10 years in the UAE. During all these years all my creativity came out and took different forms – from creating pottery for my whole house and daily use, painting on ostrich eggs, designing my furniture, designing my clothes, painting on my walls….”
“After a long time of searching for a studio which would suit my needs, I have decided to swap my elegant house for a more spacious one, which I have turned into a fusion between a home and an atelier, where every detail and piece of furniture supports my creativity and I can work and still be in comfort.”
– You have participated as a curator and an artist in a lot of exhibitions, can you tell us about your most recent ones?
“In May last year I curated the Big Picture exhibition held in Pro Art Gallery and Street Art Gallery in Dubai displaying the work of 72 artists. In February this year I was offered the opportunity to create an art show called “Elements of Love” for the Pullman Hotel, so I have created a very unique set up in the lobby of the hotel. I worked with 6 international artists and it was a very successful show. In April I curated another art exhibition titled Tradition vs. Today which was shown in the World Trade Centre during World Art Dubai and which featured artworks by renowned artists such as Hassan Massoudy with his calligraphy artwork and Sabah Arbilli, who exhibited 6 sculptures and I also contributed with my own paintings. The main idea was to showcase the bridge between the heritage of the Arabic culture, the evidence of symbolism, strong rooted beliefs that represent the region and the modern lifestyle which is part of the everyday life. We have portrayed calligraphy and patterns in a contemporary approach.
As an artist, I have had several exhibitions in recent months in places such as New York, but also locally in Dubai. The most recent one was held in the Menier Gallery in London and you can still see it until August 31. The whole concept of the exhibition is called “Lust for Life” and it is about Frida Kahlo’s life, her persona and inspiration that she left behind. I have always been compared to her… sometimes because of my hairstyle, my features and sometimes for my personality. The truth is, I admire strong iconic women who have a unique style, strong will, talent and a big heart at the same time. And she had it all. It was an unusual work for me as I have painted her and myself in one. It’s a complete fusion of elements and characteristics with a Middle Eastern background and accessories. The concept was inspired by the hypothetical question: “What would it look like if Frida Kahlo lived in the Middle East?” After all the considered options described in the artwork caption text, I answered with the closing line: “A woman of her caliber would not change, but the background would.”
– How do you get your inspiration every day?
“Definitely life itself is an inspiration and then I get visions from childhood and I usually follow them and paint exactly what I have seen, the repetitive flashes in from of my eyes, the inspiration left behind and the intrigue that all the emotions and messages that came from within leave in me.
I enjoy controversy and Dubai is a place marked by “tradition versus today”, “history versus vision”, “simplicity versus richness”. One of my favorite buildings is the Iranian hospital on Al Wasl Road. No matter how many times I pass it by, I am still amazed by the mesmerizing beauty of the patterns and colors used on it.
Long time ago I used to live in Egypt and Tunisia, which both have left a lasting impression on me and I have travelled in most of the countries of the Arab World, which inspire me and I truly love the differences in designs, patterns and architecture.”
– Are you currently working on any new projects and what are the plans for the near future?
There are so many! 🙂 One of the projects that I am currently working on and curating is for an emerging brand of accessories. And, also, I am working on a couple of different projects including my first installation, but perhaps it’s too early to say more. I will keep you posted!
Thank you so much for your time, dear Xenia!!
If you would like to know more about Xenia’s next projects, stay tuned and we will update you 😉