‘Autobiography’ by Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz

Maths whizz spent a year documenting her experiences through three conceptual projects Discuss this article

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We all have our little quirks and oddities that make us individuals. For Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz, who graduated from university with a degree in science and maths, hers was an obsession that absorbed her thoughts on long drives from Sharjah to various destinations in the emirates.

‘It’s a very personal thing,’ she laughs. ‘When I’m driving, the cars and the people don’t interest me – what attracts me is the number plates. I’m always reading them trying to find an equation by adding them together. It was all happening in my brain, and I realised I needed to do something. I came up with the idea of creating an art piece. I needed to heal myself from this.’

The result is one of three series of projects that feature in her solo exhibition, ‘Autobiography’, running at the The Third Line until Wednesday January 16. Using black pen on canvas, Ebtisam documented her journey with sketches of dominos  as a means to trace the number plates she’d seen on separate trips to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Umm Al Quwain. Yet this was just one of three mediums she chose for this project: the exhibition also features 150 colourful sketches and 10 artworks featuring found objects. ‘I’m a conceptual artist, so I don’t have a specific medium,’ she explains. ‘The concept is the most important element. These three projects are all connected to my autobiography.’

Ebtisam explains how her day-to-day trajectories moulded each of the works in the exhibition. ‘The second project is also based on a trip I took, but this time I was walking and finding objects, and I used them to document my day,’ she reveals. The glass capsule-like displays feature items as diverse as a doll’s head, a traditional Emirati slipper, a badminton shuttlecock and a hairbrush, though each have been painted, as if to rid them of any detail. ‘I’ve given the objects another life,’ she explains.

Her third series has a cubist, abstract element: coloured sketches on mathematical graph paper. ‘This paper is specifically used for maths. I use black pen and coloured pencils to sketch my day onto graph paper. Again, each paper has a date, so it’s like writing my diary, but using shapes, colours and numbers.’

To some, Ebtisam may seem like a contradiction: a creative artist with a mathematical gift. Yet that’s not the only talent she’s hiding: if she wasn’t a visual artist, what can she see herself doing? ‘I’d be a singer – I have a good voice,’ she laughs. It looks as though she has all bases covered.

The Lowdown
Exhibition: ‘Autobiography’ until Wednesday January 16 at The Third Line, Al Quoz 3 (04 341 1367).
Artist: Ebtisam Abdulaziz.
Price of works: Dhs2,000 to Dhs30,000.

By Jenny Hewett
Time Out Dubai,

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