One of Abdul Qader Al Rais’ paintings at Etihad Museum. Image Credit: Atiq ur Rehman/Gulf News

Dubai: Art can serve as a bridge between two cultures, leading Emirati artist Abdul Qader Al Rais said ahead of his first international retrospective in Paris.

A pioneer of contemporary art who has produced some of the UAE’s most iconic artworks, Al Rais’s exhibition at the Arab World Institute in Paris is the latest initiative reinforcing a growing friendship between UAE and France.

On Monday, Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) announced organising the exhibition in France from September 25 till October 21 to introduce French people to the rich culture of the UAE.

Al Rais (right) said the retrospective will be a comprehensive exhibition that covers various periods of his artistic journey, which first kicked off in Kuwait and was followed by prominent locations in his native UAE.

“The exhibition will showcase more than 50 of my artworks, beginning with my oldest classical art work in 1966, which was a profile of a girl that I had painted in elementary school, up until the most recent work of mine that follows the impressionism art style. It will cover the different stages of my artistic experience spanning 50 years,” he told Gulf News.

His full spectrum of work to be showcased at the exhibition will include his abstract, calligraphic and geometric pieces as well as a special painting made specifically for the exhibition.

Dr Salah Al Qassim, Dubai Culture Advisor, said the exhibition will be a platform to convey a message of civilisation, culture, and society to achieve the goals of the UAE soft power council, launched by Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

The UAE Soft Power Council aims to introduce the UAE, its history and its culture to the global public.

“The event is a collective effort that will contribute to supporting the 2018 French-Emirati dialogue initiative which coincides with our celebration of the Year of Zayed,” he said. “It will contribute to the preservation of the diplomatic legacy of the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan and strengthen our long-standing and cultural relations with France.”

Al Qassim said Al Rais had a great impact in enhancing the creative landscape of the UAE and such an event will broaden the understanding of the UAE’s culture.

Several new joint initiatives are making the long-standing partnership between France and the UAE stronger, said Raja Rabia, Consul General of France.

“This upcoming event is one of the main projects of the Franco-Emirati Cultural Dialogue. It is not limited to arts, but also covers the spheres of the economy environment education, and teaching of French language,” she said.

She added that cultural exchanges make it possible to understand others values and sometimes their language, noting that some of the cultural initiatives in the UAE have included reintroducing French classes in UAE public schools, opening of a French literature programme, setting up specific chapters on France in textbooks and more.

Dubai Culture has scheduled a series of talks and workshops to take place during the opening week of the exhibition in Paris, including a workshop held by Al Rais himself.

What: Retrospective of Abdul Qader Al Rais
Where: Arab World Institute in Paris
When: September 25 to October 21