Art Dubai – Who says you have to colour in between the lines?

My little sister got all of the artistic talent in our family.  I can barely draw stick people and my brief attempt at creating colourful abstract paintings years ago resulted in what can only be described as a big brown mess.  Now I prefer to appreciate the artistic endeavours of other talented artists and have spent millions of imaginary dollars wandering through art galleries from North America to Vietnam.

In March I visited Art Dubai in Madinat Jumeirah, the leading international art fair for contemporary art in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia. This year, it welcomed 25,000 visitors and hosted 75 art galleries from 30 countries.  More than USD $45 million dollars worth of art was on display.

Art Dubai Artist: Ehsan Ul Huq

The art displayed at the event ranged from strikingly beautiful to weird and ugly, although I suppose what I defined as ugly or beautiful might be viewed in the opposite way by someone else.  It is the unique and personal nature of art that makes it special.

Some of my favourite pieces appeared to be the most simple, but in reality an impressive amount of complexity and effort went into making them appear that way.  In this display by Fred Eerdekens for example, the words you read are actually the shadow of the twisted copper wire under a light source.

Art Dubai

Artist: Fred Eerdekens

From a distance, this wall of 100 small drawings on white paper commands a quiet but powerful presence on a plain white wall.  It is only when you get closer and realize how much effort has gone into each individual drawing about ordinary, every day things that you can truly appreciate its depth.

Artist: Mohamed Kazem Title: Window 2011 - 2013, Drawing on Paper

Artist: Mohamed Kazem
Title: Window 2011 – 2013, Drawing on Paper

I particularly enjoyed wandering through the winner showcase of the The Hamdan International Photography Award (HIPA).  Founded by HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, HIPA aims to support talented photographers and reflects Dubai’s commitment towards artistic and cultural development in the UAE and beyond.  The competition is (of course) the richest photography competition in the world with a grand prize of USD $120,000.   (To my photography loving readers, be sure to spend some time looking through the thousands of beautiful photos on the hipa website.)

Part of the winner showcase for the Hamdan International Photography Award (HIPA)

Part of the winner showcase for the Hamdan International Photography Award (HIPA)

What really caught my attention though, was this showcase by el Seed, a French-Tunisian artist known for his signature Arabic “calligraffiti” style.  When we are children, we are taught to colour carefully inside the lines of our colouring books.  The older I get, the more I appreciate those who consider the lines as optional guidelines only.  el Seed’s “calligraffiti” is inspiring and having a mural painted by el Seed in my home has officially been added to my wish list.

Artist: el Seed Title: Untitled 1 (Secrets and Mysteries Collection)

Artist: el Seed
Title: Untitled 1 (Secrets and Mysteries Collection)

el Seed is currently in Doha, Qatar where he has been commissioned to spray-paint 52 panels on Salwa Road tunnels and then he will be working on another project in Dubai. For more information about el Seed, here is a nice article by Susan Hack in Condé Nast Traveler, Tunisia’s Street Art Star, el Seed and more information about his project in Qatar, el Seed in Doha.

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