American street artist Shepard Fairey, who gained global recognition for creating the iconic Barack Obama ‘Hope’ poster for the 2008 US presidential elections, has unveiled a new mural in Dubai Design District (d3).
With it, the contemporary street artist is hosting his first-ever exhibition in the Middle East by creating a striking public artwork that pays homage to Dubai’s vision for cross-cultural communication and cooperation.
Encompassing motifs from his ‘Future Mosaic’ exhibit, there are two murals that can be found between Building 10 and 11 in d3. The first mural, ‘Rise Above Peace Fingers’, features an intricately patterned peace sign, which is layered with another image of a fist holding a flower that doubles as a paintbrush. The text ‘Rise Above’ with two arrows are also placed on the mural.
The second work, ‘Rise Above Dove’, features two images, one of which is directly lifted from the ‘Future Mosaic’ exhibit. All the murals have been created using bright tones of red, blue and yellow juxtaposed with black and white. Each mural conveys the universal message of peace, harmony and coexistence.
From stickers and street art to skateboards and presidential portraiture, Fairey’s work has progressed to the walls of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. After studying at Rhode Island School of Design, Fairey created the ‘Andre the Giant has a Posse’ sticker that later evolved into the OBEY clothing brand.
“Dubai and the US have more in common than many people realise. As well as promoting vibrant creative industries, they both promote justice, peace and tolerance. I was so excited to explore these important values and am grateful that Opera Gallery Dubai and d3 gave me the opportunity to create a piece of work that reflects and honours our similarities rather than polarising our differences. I cannot think of a more suitable place for my first regional mural than right here in d3,” Fairey said in a statement.
As part of his first official visit to the region, Fairey debuted his exhibition ‘Future Mosaic’ at Opera Gallery, which features a number of new works and classic pieces. Many of them share similarities with, and references to, traditional Middle Eastern and Arabic design.
Speaking about his works in Dubai, Fairey described the first mural as a “symbol of strength and empowerment, the paintbrush is for art and the flower as something positive, growing and blooming.”
“We are delighted that a world-renowned artist such as Shepard has found inspiration in Dubai’s rich cultural heritage and diversity. When he reached out to explore the possibility of creating something here, we were excited because public art is intrinsically linked to our unique identity,” Khadija Al Bastaki, Executive Director of d3, said in a statement.