There’s a method in the M.A.Dness
When we think of Dubai, our minds jump to images of shopping malls big enough to fit fountains in, pristine sandy beaches, prices that’ll make eyes water and, of course, the tallest building in the world. But tucked away in Dubai’s industrial heartland, the M.A.D Gallery and its exuberant exhibits are ripping up the art and design rulebook, as Sterling Brent found out.
To the unenlightened, Dubai’s sprawling Al Quoz area, located a mere two and a half kilometres inland from the Burj Al Arab, is a dusty, sand-swept industrial zone, filled with nameless backstreet garages, tyre fitters and concrete contractors. However, to those in the know, Al Quoz – and Alserkal Avenue in particular – is Dubai’s creative heart: a hotbed of galleries, specialist retailers, museums and the odd trendy café.
Typically unpretentious, the creative establishments here rely on word of mouth and reputation for business. Footfall in Al Quoz is basically non-existent and so clientele is kept to the most exclusive of UAE residents. It’s this creative community that lead to the MB&F M.A.D Gallery setting up on the bustling Alserkal Avenue, rather than a downtown gallery with a Burj Khalifa view.
The MB&F concept
Geneva 2005. After years of conforming to the rules of corporate watchmaking, Maximilian Büsser had his ‘Falling Down’ moment, escaping the safe world of horology with a myriad of defiant ideas that would start a rebellion which he called MB&F – Maximilian Büsser & Friends.
His friends consisted of fellow creatives, all of whom were blessed with a restless streak. Maximilian wanted to assemble a group of radical artists with a penchant for the extreme – rebels without constraint – rock star watchmakers and sculptors.
The MB&F M.A.D Gallery
To display the kinetic art, horological machines and Mechanical Art Devices of the ever-growing MB&F family, Maximilian opened his first M.A.D Gallery in Geneva in 2011. This was followed by the launch of the M.A.D Gallery Taipei in 2014, with the Dubai branch opening its doors in January 2016.
The gallery in Alserkal Avenue not only houses a complete range of MB&F Horological Machines and Legacy Machines, but also a number of carefully-curated pieces from across the globe, each piece representing the pinnacle of mechanical art devices. From arachnid-inspired wall clocks to custom-built motorcycles, the M.A.D Gallery certainly lives up to its name…
The M.A.D Gallery’s artists are handpicked by founder Maximilian Büsser to join the MB&F rebellion
On the walls of the Alserkal Avenue gallery, Renaud Marion’s Air Drive Project showcases nine visionary photographs of ‘flying’ cars. Inspired by sci-fi films of the past, the French photographer created his interpretation of future transport, but with a twist: the cars are all based on classics from the 1940s through to the late 1960s. To get the look, Marion photographed each car in situ in and around Paris, making sure the backdrop was as ‘Luc Besson’ as it could be. Back in his studio, he digitally removed the wheel wells, creating the iconic ‘flying’ look.Right: Comic book artist Jean Giraud was a huge inspiration for Renaud Marion
Below: Renaud Marion photographed each classic car in both Paris and Geneva
Above: The gold-plated spider weighs 1.96kgs compared to the black version’s 0.98kgs
Joining Marion’s Airdrive concept on the M.A.D Gallery’s walls is a completely different art piece – a clock that will have arachnophobes reaching for a rolled-up magazine. Arachnophobia was inspired by a giant spider sculpture that MB&F’s founder, Maximilian, had seen in Geneva and although much smaller, at 405mm in diameter, this table-cum-wall clock is an intimidating piece of work. The high-end L’Epée movement has been reimagined as the head and abdomen, with the visible moving parts adding to the overall ‘live’ effect. It’s not for everyone, however, Arachnophobia’s presence can’t be denied.
Above: These hand-built motorcycles take up to 8,000 hours each to create
Chicara ArtChicara Nagata is a Japanese graphic designer who also builds motorcycles. Each of Nagata’s works of art takes between 7,000 to 8,000 hours to complete and are completely rideable, as he builds each motorcycle around a classic bike engine. To realise his wild imagination, Nagata manufactures up to 500 components himself, forming parts out of steel, aluminium, chrome, brass and copper. Nagata also sources specialist parts from Harley Davidson, Triumph and Bob Newby Racing, which he carefully integrates onto his designs, which, as it happens, won him first place in the AMD Championships – the world’s most recognised custom bike awards.
Back in 1993, Berlin-based Frank Buchwald decided to turn his science-fiction illustrations into working pieces of art, creating all manner of space-age sculptural lights. For the M.A.D Gallery, he collaborated with Dalibor Farny, a passionate engineer, to create the Nixie Machine II, a clock utilising Nixie tubes. Also known as cold cathode displays, the numerals inside the tubes glow a seductive orange and are ‘fed’ by numerous steel tubes. Telling the time has never been so alluring.Right: For Frank Buchwald, metal is the perfect material with which to work creatively
Below: Each number has its own filament
Above: Each engine component is photographed separately
DisintegrationSwiss artist Fabian Oefner’s Disintegration series is one of the most well-known of the M.A.D Gallery’s works, as it has been picked up by a number of automotive websites and blogs. Using iconic sports car models as a base, Oefner painstakingly takes two months to deconstruct and photograph his works, taking over 2,000 images in the process. After photographing each of the exploded components, Oefner comps the image together to create a real photograph that looks like a 3D rendering.
Inspired by the unlikely duo of cartoons and polished steel, China’s Xia Hang formed arguably the M.A.D Gallery’s most eye-catching sculptures. Stepping through the door, Poseidon greets the visitor, a huge stainless steel creation that is the amalgamation of two of the planet’s most feared predators: the attack helicopter and the great white shark. Watching over it is another striking piece, the 90x65x90cm Mutton Head – a sculpture of polished steel that challenges the conventions of the art of sculpting.Right: Xia Hang can create beauty as well as brawn
Below: Xia Hang is a pioneer in the adoption of the ‘sculpture of play’
essence infoMB&F M.A.D Gallery Dubai
Alserkal Avenue, Street 8, Al Quoz 1, Dubai, UAE
Telephone: +971 04 330 7366Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgWebsite: www.madgallery.netArtists:
Renaud Marion, Maximilian Büsser, Chicara Nagata, Frank Buchwald, Xia Hang and Fabian OefnerInstagram: @mbfmadgallery.ae