Unity in Variety VI at Gabriel Fine Arts

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In the sixth edition of their most recent collaboration with Barikee, Gabriel Fine Arts showcased an expansive array of work, from the interpretive calligraphy of Bin Qulander to the poetic photographs of Adriaan van Heerden. The mere diversity in artistic origin, from Pakistan to South Africa and New Zealand to Germany, serves homage to the title and ethos of the exhibition, ‘Unity in Variety’.

“W. Somerset Maugham wrote that, ‘The essence of the beautiful is unity in variety’. This is a beautiful, expansive thought: what it means to me is that we are more beautiful as a whole if we make room for each other to flourish; and that the world is a more interesting place as a complex mess,” said Heerden.

The exhibition was as colourful in appearance as it was dense in evocative stories of peoples, lands, religions, and landscapes. Each of the artists who took part draws their influence from both the tangible and the metaphysical. Rosemary Clunie finds inspiration in fiction’s heroes and heroines, Sue Mac Dougall finds it upon floating in the sea, and Teresa Wicksteed paints from an interest in contemporary physics.

A piece, Surah Rehman I, by Bin Qulander (photo attached) stood out in its use of vibrant blue hues to accentuate geometric lines and shapes. When Qulander speaks on his art he explains his focus on an “aesthetic interpretation of calligraphy” and a fluidity with deeper philosophical context. In slight juxtaposition, Dmitry Dobrovolsky, of Ukrainian origin, showcased a colourful and oil based mosaic titled Holland Park Walk which focuses on the human as its subject. Both works communicate elements of their own culture in conjunction with constants in every civilisation.

Gabriel Fine Arts

The exhibition left an appetite for understanding and exploration. It also left a deeper consideration for the potential lack thereof a space for such diversity in the arts on a global scale. Upon considering this, “It depends on where you draw the geographical boundary of the question,” said Heerdeen. The arts provide a medium for one of the most imaginative reflections of current affairs of the world, and how people and cultures engage with one another. This showcase of work at Gabriel Fine Arts inspires refusal of the restriction of such expression.

The ethos and effect of this exhibition prompts a sense of urgency for consideration of the integral role that the arts still hold for each individual, community, and culture. Art is an important tool for an understanding of the worlds around us, close and near. It keeps us engaged and connected. ‘Unity in Variety’ was chaotic perhaps in its vast array of represented mediums and cultures but in its resonance it was harmonious and whole.

By Victoria Lancaster


Unity in Variety VI
Gabriel Fine Arts
18  – 26 November 2016