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Emirati artists pleased with changes

Contemporary Emirati artist speaks about his experience cultural openness in the UAE

Abu Dhabi: The UAE society is undergoing a cultural openness that is allowing people’s mentalities and personalities to move away from previously conservative views towards art, top Emirati artists said in the capital.

“In the past, I felt that art was being met with indifference. I had to rebel against society to form my own artistic personality,” art photographer Yousuf Al Harmoudi said.

Nowadays, not only have people become more interested in the field, they have also begun to understand the meanings behind this form of visual expression. “I noticed that people even stare longer at artworks than they used to,” he added.

Speaking at Storytellers, a contemporary Emirati art exhibition, internationally-renowned Emirati artist Noor Al Suwaidi echoed Al Harmoudi’s thoughts.

“Education programmes have flourished over the past decade, offering everything from fine arts to film studies and even animation,” she explained.

Her long-lived passion for art remained unfulfilled while she studied visual communication at a UAE university because art programmes were not available in the country at the time.

“I had to travel abroad to get my bachelor’s and master’s degree in arts,” Al Suwaidi said.

The exhibition which showcased the works of nine Emirati artists also allowed them to share their thoughts on what makes an artist successful.

“You have to be a reader before attempting anything else or else your projects will fail,” said Mohammad Al Mazroui, a conceptual artist, critic and poet.

Similarly, Al Harmoudi said that being an active reader and having a healthy imagination are the key ingredients for unlocking creativity.

“People will read whichever books suit their personalities. So whether it’s history or fantasy, artists’ work will be shaped by the books they often read,” he added.