Dubai: His regular day job is that of a chartered accountant, but Dubai expat Bonny Mathew is happiest when he paints. Like many others, he gave up his hobby, for studies and employment. Apart from the occassional doodle or sketch, he lost touch. That was until two years ago, when finally Mathew decided to pick up his old friend, the paintbrush again. “Dubai gave me a chance to explore my talent again. I had not realised how many art societies Dubai had and the many opportunities awaited me as an artist.”
From amateur to professional painter
In just two years, the Indian expat who came to Dubai 14 years ago, went on to display his artwork in international galleries. Mathew is now a member of the Dubai Arts Center and organises en plein (outdoor) air painting sessions for art lovers: “When the weather gets better, we organise outdoor sessions and invite artists. Anyone is free to join.
“Sometimes there are two people, at other times there are five. We want more people to join.”
He feels new and unestablished artists in Dubai are not aware of the many ways the Emirates promotes artists.
Melting pot of techniques
Mireille Salti artist from Lebanon feels the same.
She said: “Dubai’s art scene is very different from other parts of the world.”
Dubai based Salti is also a designer. “The UAE is a melting pot of cultures. People from all around the world come here and bring their unique cultures and art forms with them.”
She and Mathew are among the few well-known artists from Dubai who are displaying their work at the event, A Cultural Flair in Palm Jumeirah on December 7 and 8. Salti explores the controlled chaos of fluid abstract art using mixed media on canvas.
Many of the artists participating in the Art Nights event at the Golden Mile Galleria, feel that Dubai’s art culture is unique. This comes from the fact that art from different countries mix here. Artists from different cultures associate with each other and encourage other artists. They appreciate each other’s cultures and help new artists. Salti added: “Sometimes my other artist friends from other countries call me up and suggest new art fairs or public galleries where I can display my work.”
Freedom to explore
Nori El Hami, a calligraphy artist who has studied traditional Middle Eastern art, Islamic geometric art and orientalism said: “Dubai gives you the freedom to explore. The city loves to encourage cultural activities and hosts multiple art events. The best way to get to know about them is through social media.”
While many feel like even though the city has many art related event, not everyone knows about them. However, social media has helped artists bring their work to a forefront without having to display them physically in galleries. But there is a downside to it - art plagiarism. Natalie Daghestani a Dubai based artist who uses crystals and unconventional mediums to make her artwork unique, often uses Instagram and other social media channels to display her work. She said: “People do copy, but as an artist, in this age, you have to accept that.”
But she feels, if one has a unique style, it’s impossible to reproduce the exact work. She said: “They may be able to copy it but it won’t be exactly the same effect.”
Dubai, as an inpsiration for art
Chistian Ray A. Cresencia, a graffiti artist from the Philippines is also featuring his work at the Art Night along with other established and upcoming artists in the UAE.
He said: “Dubai gave me the inspiration to explore new styles. I even learnt some new styles that I have displayed here as graffiti.”
Occupying the spotlight is however, a giant art space, which invites visitors and passersby to create a community artwork. Muralists, graffiti artists and spray painters will also create colourful installations.
Visitors can explore Dubai’s art scene and meet a host of celebrated, award-winning artists during the Art Nights that will take place 12 noon to 6pm on December 7 and 8, at Golden Mile Galleria on Palm Jumeirah, Building 7 to 10.
Some of the other well-known artists displaying their work are Kristel Bechara, an award-winning painter, Charlie Villagracia contemporary artist from the Philippines, Ruba Badwan, Swena Harneja, Robyn Chislett, Linda Lipace, Sumedha Randev, Sharmila Tulpule, Ahmed Al Falasi, Shahul Kollengode and Busardoh Art.