Dubai: From using tissue papers, to nail polish and tea bags, Dubai-based artist Samar Kamel has her own unique ways of delivering a message to the wider community.
The Egyptian artist who moved to Dubai 30 years ago with her husband, is an author with two published works and curator of World Art Dubai (WAD). She said that she was sitting in her studio, savouring a cup of tea, when the idea of using tea bags for her paintings struck her.
“The tea bag was torn. I held it up in the sun and was fascinated by the colour. After it dried, I used it on my canvas and loved the effect. I discovered it by coincidence,” Kamel told Gulf News in her studio. She believes that all artists like using whatever they can on their artworks to either express themselves or to convey a message to the wider world.
“I love using mixed media in my work, so I use fabric, newspaper, nail polish, tissue paper and even tea bags, which have now become my signature technique,” she said.
As an author, Kamel is known for works that examine cultural attitudes towards women and aim to transform stereotypes through vibrant depictions of the modern woman. She grew up around paintings and colours as her late father was an artist.
“I chose to study literature and not art as I loved writing since I was a kid. I remember I used to write stories and draw the scenes and make them into mini booklets. Recalling those memories now, it seems as if my childhood was an extension of my present life,” Kamel added.
She used her talent as a tool to highlight social issues that need to be tackled. She was nominated for Emirates Women for Arts and Culture Award. She believes that she may have been nominated for the award for having organised auctions for charity to raise funds to help marginalised members of society and women who are in prison in Cairo due to unpaid debts. “I strongly believe that art itself is a message,” she said.
World Art Dubai
World Art Dubai is the largest and most diverse International Affordable Art fair in the region. Kamel said the event last March was her fourth year as a curator.
“It brings together many nationalities, enabling them to interact and learn about various kinds of arts and cultures. With no artistic boundaries, artists are free to introduce new perspectives,” she said. “World Art Dubai is the mirror of diversity in the region,” she said.
She added that during the last 15 years, the UAE has emerged as the ‘Art Hub’ in the Gulf and that is a fine example of the nation’s support for art and artists. No wonder many artists in the UAE have been recognised with the Golden Visa. “With many artists deciding to make UAE their home, the UAE started shining like a beacon of art. Art in the emirates has transformed from being local to going global,” she added.
Why women are the focus of Kamel’s creations?
Kamel sees women as multilayered characters and she always tries to delve into the core of their emotions and thoughts and portray that on canvas. “Women issues are as important as economical or political issues. As an artist, if I witness a problem in my society that needs to be highlighted, why not address it,” she said. “Women in my books and paintings are not second-class citizens. Even though I portray the struggles and challenges that eastern women face, they are still portrayed as reflecting their strengths,” Kamel explained. She has highlighted Arab women, in particular, in her books and depicted their struggles subtly in her paintings.
The rich repertoire of Samar Kamel
With more than 70 international art exhibitions and art fairs across the world, Kamel has displayed her works in China, Oxford, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Tokyo, Egypt, the United States, Italy, Brazil Belgium and all over the UAE.
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Having acquired her curatorial certification from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Kamel was assigned the role of World Art Dubai curator in 2019.