Shots today from last month’s Shepard Fairey “Future Mosaic” at Dubai’s Opera Gallery. With works on canvas, paper, wood, and metal, as well as examples of iconic images and repeated motifs from the breadth of his art and design history, Fairey was very much present for his first solo show here. In a grueling schedule of just 9 days he also managed to install two huge murals facing a skate park in a commercial district of the city, the d3 (Dubai Design District).
Rise Above Peace Dove and Rise Above Peace Fingers incorporate what appears as a richer vibrant palette and pulsing graphic interplay than previously, perhaps due to more dense hues and the fact that his core crew of Dan Flores, Luka Densmore, and Rob Zagula were on hand along with Jon and Marwan offering additional help. Staying clear of strident language or slogans, the new works are largely representational and universal in themes of “justice, peace and human rights.”
Fairey withstood criticism on social media for even working in the region, it would appear, let alone lending his name to an effort that they saw as hypocritical in light of his previous vocal stances on human rights, for example.
He took to Instagram to address his critics, “I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but it’s not a perfect place, but perfection does not exist and certainly not in the US. However, without this experience, I would not have been able to engage in robust discussions with the great people I met in Dubai. There’s nothing more relevant to my inside-outside strategy than traveling there and doing public art conveying harmony and positivity.”
Elsewhere in another post, he wrote, “It is very important for me to do public art when I travel because it engages people outside of the art world, but it is not easy to secure public walls in Dubai.”
The opportunity to show and share and sell your art is something we want for any artist. In the case of Fairey, judgment metrics would need to include his two decades of generous acts promoting and supporting all manner of environmental, social justice, and civic participation efforts. We’ll confidently observe that year after year, his impact can far outstrip the average street artist and certainly most art collectors by miles. We dare say he’s unmatched. Let that be your goal.
“The show was massive, with 159 works that utilized the gallery space with a rhythm of scale and concentration,” he says. “My art practice focuses on the work’s cumulative effect, both visually and conceptually, so I was pleased with the final result.”