Exhibit Opening night





It becomes ever more apparent with each passing day, the revolution underfoot in the creative world. Métiers become indistinguishable. Poets direct videos. Photographers plan clothing lines. Monophonies become polyphonic, and cultures meld.

Case in point, the exhibition Martyrdom, a new series of paintings from Giovanni Leonardo Bassan (protegé of Michele Lamy and scourge of post-millennial laziness everywhere).

A series of nakedly evocative paintings, often depicting religious icons (“the show opens with a triad of martyrs - Saint Sebastian, Saint Giorgio, and Saint Lucia - the ghosts of my Catholic education”) in a thoroughly modern setting - more reminiscent of a Rolling Stone shoot with Jagger than St Peter’s Basilica - Martrydoms raises questions about cultural/geographical perspective, as well as religious.


Showing at The Mine in Dubai (admittedly, a prototypical modernist White Cube whose eclectic curatorial leanings have led to recent shows by artists as diverse as Revok and Yasuaki Onishi), there has nonetheless been controversy surrounding the purported clash between the show’s UAE location and European religious iconography and tone. 


From the gallery notes: “Martyrdom tells us of what we were and what we have become, of the heroes from the past and the contemporary ones. It sanctifies the reactionaries and shakes those who turn looking through a cry too the realization and liberation. Between figurative and abstract, the characters stand on neutral backgrounds to emphasize even more incisive the urgency of a collective awakening.”


Giovanni Leonardo Bassan


Written by: BYRON HAWES 

Photographed by: MOEZ ACHOUR