Cruise holidays can take you to some of the world’s most famous artistic landmarks, but they can also open up a route to art galleries that aren’t on the list of excursions. Much like a piece of art that strikes a chord can alter your perception, visiting alternative galleries in some of the world’s most popular cruise destinations might even change your view of a location entirely.
The Third Line, Dubai
Dubai is home to architecture which has etched itself into the modern international consciousness. But there’s much more to this city than its first appearances – and with so many big spenders concentrated in one place, it may come as no surprise whatsoever that Dubai has its fare share of art galleries.
The Third Line gallery exhibits pieces by contemporary Middle Eastern artists like Sherin Guirguis, whose pieces combine stark bursts of colour with traditional geometric shapes and patterns – addressing issues of identity, feminism and colonialism with a particular focus on events following the Arab Spring. The gallery’s clean, silver minimalist exterior hides varied and explosive expression inside, giving a gripping view of how modern Middle Eastern artists see themselves, their cultures, and the rest of the world.
Gallery PAXREX, Kobe
Japan’s fashion capital is home to the modestly-sized Gallery PAXREX, where fine-art photography takes centre stage. The gallery operates on the philosophy that art nourishes the human spirit and promotes peace – that by encouraging a love of beauty, the desire for conflict can be diminished. Hence, the gallery’s Latin name declares that ‘peace is king’.
There’s more to this philosophy than just sentiment, though: by specialising in photography, Gallery PAXREX gives people a very affordable form of contemporary art – and this affordability makes art and its peaceful effects more available for public consumption. The gallery also hopes to change ideas on photography as an artistic medium too, with a tendency to overlook art with more complex meanings in favour of beautiful simplicity, in order to appeal to more people.
ASI Art Museum, Reykjavik
Iceland’s capital city is something of a gathering point for the country’s artistic and cultural heritage. Look past the National Musuem of Iceland and Reykjavik Art Museum though during your time ashore, and you’ll find the clean white spaces and varied appeal of the ASI Art Museum.
Similar to the ideology behind Kobe’s Gallery PAXREX, the ASI Art Museum was founded in the 1960s with the intention of bringing art to Iceland’s working class – thanks to a very generous single donation of native masterpieces by the industrialist Ragnar Jonsson. Now, the ASI exhibits pieces from Iceland’s past and gives the floor to contemporary artists too – like the fascinating, child-like imagination of the illustrator Sigrun Eldjarn.
Much like Dubai, Singapore’s modern buildings don’t hesitate to show off to the world, and wouldn’t look out of place in a science fiction movie. But beneath these towering monuments you’ll find a real grass-roots art gallery, Artcommune – founded in 2009 by an aerospace engineer who convinced himself that his art shouldn’t just be something he had to fit around his day job. Since then, the gallery has devoted itself to nurturing local artistic talent and curiosity in visual expression, and it’s aiming high for the future – intending to become “the gallery of choice” for collectors, artists and art lovers alike.
Artcommune makes for a much more modest venue than some other galleries in this list, and really packs the pieces in too – dispensing with the obligatory large white spaces to give visitors much more work to browse. Here local artists work in-situ in the gallery’s studio, and you’ll find everything from watercolour landscapes and harbours to gigantic surrealist portraits, as well as traditional brush illustrations. At its heart, Artcommune aims to tell people what its founder discovered – that it’s possible to turn a love of art into a profession as an artist.
Street art, Valparaiso
The port of Valparaiso is a three-course meal for the eyes, where every house, tram and random wall seems to gets the technicolour treatment. The city is home to some gloriously virtuoso displays of street art, especially in its tourist centre, and guided tours are available for visitors to see the best of these vivid murals.
Here every wall is a canvas for some incredibly talented artists, who bring contemporary art out of the gallery and into people’s daily lives. You’ll find psychedelic portraits covering walls in eye-popping colour; concrete steps painted like piano keys; brightly painted cars hanging from a gigantic washing line; and passionate tributes to the likes of Van Gogh, painted in his own unmistakeable style.
photo credit: mighty.travels via photopin cc