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Tucked away off a busy street in Al Quoz is Alserkal Avenue, home to about 20 art-focused studios. One of the thriving art venues in the area is Salsali Private Museum (SPM), which provides a cultural base and platform for new and established collectors.
Showcasing contemporary art from the region, SPM does not charge local and international collectors any fee. Founder Ramin Salsali says he's always yearned to share his passion for art with the public.
''I started the museum [in 2011], the first private museum in the Middle East, as a tribute to Dubai. a city which has been welcoming more than 150 nationalities and different religious beliefs,'' he says. ''It's a model for the future, based on mutual respect. I wanted to contribute to the cultural development and evolvement of this city.''
SPM promotes an art collecting culture among individuals, families and organisations, encouraging them to collect and share art with the general public.
''Art is the peaceful and universal language for individual and global commitment,'' he states on the museum's website. ''A museum of art is the responsive tool and a supportive platform in this context. It is a modern temple for tranquility, love and inspiration.''
As a non-profit organization, SPM does not sell paintings, which comes as a welcome surprise in a city full of mostly commercial galleries.
Born in Tehran in 1964, Salsali has been collecting art since he was 21. SPM now features more than 800 pieces of painting, photography, video art and sculpture from local artists. In addition, it hosts guest collections and travelling exhibitions from around the world.
Taking centre stage until the end of October is a solo exhibition by Iranian artist Zanjani Amir Hossein, which Salsali says has received enormous interest.
''The reaction and responses to this exhibition are remarkable.''
Amir Hossein is renowned for his vibrant and expressive brushstrokes as seen in the exhibition, which has a military theme. The works revolve around human conflict and submission to a greater power.
''These unique works are the result of more than 18 months of intellectual and critical discourses with Amir Hossein over one of the key questions in our life,'' says Salsali. ''The works serve as powerful statements with which to reflect upon the conflict that confronts us in our everyday lives: that of submission and the fight for independence.''
The centrepiece is a specially commissioned work consisting of 700 pieces depicting the faces of soldiers from all over the world. On another wall is The Trampoline, a map of the world where the artist, relating to the ancient tradition of hunters skinning their prey, expresses his view on how humans have hunted humanity and skinned the world, says Salsali.
''But more than scenes of war and agony, Amir Hossein's works demonstrate the idea of hope within the act of submitting. We often surrender to forces such as love and power that are beyond our control. Our freedom, therefore, comes from our submission.
''As I have done many times over, the viewer can empathise with Amir Hossein's works as they portray a real depiction of the thoughts and feelings that we all experience. Ultimately, we are free when we can let go.''
Amir Hossein was born in 1980 in Esfehan, Iran. He received his bachelor's and master's degrees in painting from the University of Tehran and his works can be found in major collections in Europe and the Middle East.
Recently, he received a grant from the Getty Foundation in Italy.
Hossein's paintings commissioned for this exhibition are priced between $15,000 (Dh55,000) and $120,000, says Salsali.
Source: Cheryl Robertson, Features Writer, Property Weekly