DUBAI: Sikka Art Fair, an artist-led fair of fully commissioned works by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, Dubai Culture, is hosting an impressive line-up of 50 Emirati and UAE-based artists, in addition to three collectives and two arts initiatives for its fifth edition to be held from March 14 to 24, 2015.

Bringing arts to the public through citywide programmes that include visual arts projects, music, live performances, video art and workshops, Sikka also marks the formal start of the second Dubai Art Season, the umbrella arts initiative by Dubai Culture that also includes Art Dubai and Design Days Dubai, among other events.

With Al Fahidi historical neighbourhood as the vibrant hub of Sikka, this year’s fair once again puts the spotlight on the UAE talent with a showcase of their contemporary art initiatives.

This year, Sikka is curated by Jamal Luqman, an Emirati mixed media artist, with over two decades of experience and credited with introducing digital art to the UAE in 1996. His contribution to the Emirati art scene has expanded from producing pioneering art to advocating the progression of Emirati artists.

He said, “Sikka fulfils a clear niche in the UAE’s art scene by not only offering artists a platform to demonstrate their creativity. It is also a great way for Emirati and UAE-based artists to interact and exchange ideas, apart from engaging with the public. The arts scene is catalysed through such initiatives that provide the UAE artists an opportunity to create commissioned works and highlight it to art enthusiasts from around the world, here in Dubai.”

The artists who have been commissioned to create exclusive works of art for Sikka this year include Dr Najat Mekki, a renowned Emirati artist who derives inspiration from the Gulf and reflects it in her breathtaking abstract paintings, Abdul Qadir Al Rais, one of the UAE’s most celebrated artists, who since the age of 14, has defined his distinct identity and individuality in the world of fine arts and Mattar Bin Lahej, the well-known Emirati sculptor.

“The artists commissioned for Sikka have been chosen for their creative flair and pioneering work in diverse styles and mediums,” said Lubna Al Shamsi, project leader of Dubai Art Season. “Visitors to Sikka can gain a true understanding of how our artist community is experimenting in arts and creating truly outstanding works that have global resonance. With Sikka taking arts closer to the community through wide-ranging initiatives, we are confident the fair will set new benchmarks this year in terms of creativity and originality.”

Sikka will also feature collectives by Design House, Sarah Alagroobi and Noor Jarrah, and Farah Al Amin and Nada Waleed, which explore multidisciplinary art forms, including design and installations.

Further, two landmark initiatives are being showcased at Sikka — ‘Engaging Territories’ by Zayed University and The Animation Chamber, which celebrates Arabian folk tales.

A wide range of community-oriented activities will also be held as part of Sikka, including art workshops, calligraphy shows, poetry evenings, discussions on animation, filmmaking workshops, gypsum carving, drama workshop and box painting installation, among others. Majlas Gallery, Al Majlis, Tashkeel, XVA and Mawaheb are also joining on board Sikka this year with special events.

Additionally, Artists-in-Residence (A.i. R) Dubai, a dedicated contemporary art programme that includes immense emphasis on visual arts, will provide open studios for artists to display their works.