It makes sense that the United Arab Emirates is bursting at the seams with artists and designers. Not only drenched in the beauty of white sands and the Persian Gulf, the MENA region is home to traditional artistry and creating with one’s hands. Artistic creation has always been an attempt to understand one’s identity and role within the current context. This explains the inclination of some to choose a creative profession in a region of so much flux, unrest and intersection of cultures.
Curious about the Emirati contemporary art scene punctuated by important events like Art Dubai and the Sikka Art Fair, ArchiExpo e-Magazine asked a few top names to provide a glimpse into their artistic practices.
“He removed the thread binding of his passport and used it to sew the booklet shut.”
Recipient of the Sheikha Manal Young Artist Award in 2011, Walid Al Wawi exhibited at the 2015 Paris FIAC and this year’s MMCA in Seoul. He is not only an artist of global scope through object making, performance and video. In Middle Eastern Passport, completed this year, he removed the thread binding of his passport and used it to sew the booklet shut. Sealing wax was then used to hide the passport’s origin.
On a similar note, Hazem Harb explores issues from war to trauma, vulnerability to global instability. The artist was born in Gaza, attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Rome and graduated from the European Institute of Design. He currently divides his time between Dubai and Rome.
Born in Saudi Arabia, Ayman Zaydani was originally educated in biomedical science at Griffith University in Australia. The artist employs a great amount of experimentation with photographic processes and the use of shapes such as prisms and other geometric forms. This is also evident in Azal, a work in which he poured liquid dye into pottery cups and allowed it to slowly leak through the clay.
Deeply connected to the surrounding landscape, Talin Hazbar’s artistic research is invested in materiality. Dividing her works into three categories—stone, water and sand—the artist has reconnected broken rock with wax, observed marine deposits on the nets of local fishermen in Sharjah and solidified sand.
Akin to Zaydani’s work, that of Shaika Al Mazrou also deals with physical forms and space. Through sculpture and installation, she creates simple forms that offer notions of tension, weight, space and the formal aspects of minimalism.