UAE artists are embracing the spirit of charity this month with the seventh annual Ramadan Art Bazaar.
Ramadan is a time of giving, reflection and cultural immersion regardless of whether or not you choose to fast. It makes sense, then, that the UAE’s art community is extending itself across the nation at this time. Dubai’s art enthusiasts are encouraged to make the trip up the road to sample the creative fruits of our Abu Dhabi neighbours at the seventh Ramadan Art Bazaar.
The Ramadan Art Bazaar is a gathering of between 30 and 40 artists of all nationalities, living in the UAE. They will each show a selection of four of their works at this month-long exhibition. All of the pieces will be on sale but the maximum price for a work is set at Dhs4,000, making the art affordable for potential collectors.
Sumayyah Al Suwaidi, the founder of the event, is an artist and curator of the show. She came up with the idea to start the Ramadan Art Bazaar just over seven years ago when she realised that she wanted to help others to build their own art collections. She says, ‘I feel a need to collect art myself and so do many of the people I know, but we cannot always afford the cost of original work. So I thought, why not have an art exhibition that reflects the budget of the majority of the visitors?’
She decided to hold the bazaar during Ramadan – the season of giving – feeling that this was an appropriate time to ask artists to cut the prices on their work. ‘The artists lower their prices as a gesture of giving and kindness and to take part in the spirit of celebrating Ramadan and the community.’
Originally, the bazaar was only open to artists by invitation because Sumayyah wanted to ensure a high quality of work. Last year, however, she decided to open applications to all artists although she continues to vet and curate the exhibition herself. This year she has received more than 50 applications for the bazaar, out of which she has accepted 34 artists to date.
Of course, Sumayyah’s own work will also be on display. She has been a digital artist for 12 years but recently she has begun to introduce mixed media into her work. She adds elements of photography and paint to create two- and three-dimensional pieces and installations. Her subject matter is somewhat dark and has been described as Gothic by some. She explains, ‘I let go of many negative emotions when I work. My inspiration comes from my daily life. I treat art as if it’s my personal diary.’
One of the other artists who will be participating in the show is Jalal Luqman. Like Sumayyah, Jalal is an Emirati artist and works with mixed media. He has exhibited in the region for more than two decades. His work also has morbid elements but illustrates a vibrant and creative imagination – often depicting made-up characters and worlds. His work typically sells for more than ten times the prices that he has set for the Bazaar.
The Ramadan Art Bazaar was successful right from its first year proving mutually beneficial to the artists and the patrons. Art fans are able to start and grow their collections, while the artists can establish a client base that often develops in to loyal followers. For these reasons the event has enjoyed a remarkably positive reception in the six years that it has been previously running. Sumayyah is looking forward to holding the bazaar in The Space at creative Abu Dhabi hub Twofour54 this year, a venue that regularly hosts arts-related events. She has carefully curated the exhibition to include paintings, furniture, home products and clothing – all created or designed by UAE artists.
So, if you’re looking to expand your artistic horizons and see more culture in the UAE this month, take a trip up the road and maybe even expand your art collection at the same time.
Ramadan Art Bazaar from July 3-29. Open Sat-Thu, 8pm-11pm. The Space, Twofour54, Salam Street, AbuDhabi. Email email@example.com.