When you consider that less than a decade ago the area around Dubai Media City was nearly all sandy desert, with just the Hard Rock Café acting as the (puny) pinnacle – the vertical growth and horizontal sprawl of the UAE is a rather remarkable work of art in and of itself. The latest exhibition at The Ara Gallery, a space that is proving to be very supportive of young Arab artists, sees this city/artwork through the eyes of seven unique Emirati artists. Meet our favourites...
‘ I = You’ by Hamdan Buti Al Shamisi, 30 from Al Ain
The artist on his work: ‘The title stands for ‘UAE = The World’, as the UAE is not just a Gulf and Arab country, but it’s an international one. We are fortunate to have a number of nationalities in the UAE, whether through tourism or business, and we all share common hopes and dreams. Also, in case the viewer is wondering, ‘why the ‘Mona Lisa?’ – this is simply because of the upcoming Louvre Abu Dhabi project, with the ‘Mona Lisa’ being one of the Louvre Paris’ greatest possessions.’
Artwork: ‘Afternoon’ series by Ammar Al Attar, 29 from Ajman
The artist on his work: ‘This work is documenting people in the UAE’s daily life, which most of my work focuses on. The photos exhibited in The Ara Gallery (right) are of afternoon gatherings of men in Ras Al Kaimah: they sit for the afternoon in local humble coffee and tea shops and share news while playing cards, this interests me as it can’t be seen in many other emirates. Looking at the photos makes you feel like you are sitting with them. These photos are shot with black and white film and are then printed by me in the darkroom with fine art fibre paper.’ (For more of Ammar’s photos see www.ammaralattar.com.)
‘Dubai: The Bride’ by Wafa Al Qassimi, 28 from Sharjah
The artist on her work: ‘This is a calligraphy based art-series created from my own Arabic poetry, which talks about the different emirates’ costumes, traditions and heritage. I am of the belief that poetry and painting are interdependent and are simply two sides of the same coin; however my poetry is mainly understood by native Arabic speakers, while my art is a universal language understood by all.’
The jewellery inspired works of fashion designer Aljoud Lootah and the stirring photographs of Mohammed Ahli, which depict rural UAE landscapes.