Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim
Portrait of Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim Image Credit: The Kurator

The UAE has given birth to five conceptual artists who formed its first generation of contemporary artists in the early ‘80s, and artist Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim is one of them. The 58-year-old Khor Fakkan native is part of the UAE’s first generation of artists, those who dared back when visual arts were not seen as culturally valuable and weren’t even taught at university.

And yet, this once-police officer gave up a serious practice in 1986 for a world of color and expression upon meeting his mentor, the late artist Hassan Sharif. He then became a founding member of the Emirates Fine Art Society and created Art Atelier at the Khor Fakkan Art Centre.

Green Boulevard, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim
Green Boulevard, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 155 x 155 cm Image Credit: Supplied

Khor Fakkan, nestled between the Gulf of Oman and the Hajar Mountains, has been a source of inspiration to the artist. His handcrafted quirky installations and sculptures mimic his natural surroundings, with special odes to his homeland’s desert and sea landscapes. Ibrahim’s work also represents the UAE’s multifaceted society and its environment through his unique yet relatable approach to abstraction.

Pink Garden, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim
Pink Garden, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 250 x 200 cm Image Credit: Supplied

The piece discussed here with the Art Curator is composed of hundreds of black symbols on a white canvas, a departure from the artists’ colorful work but still bustling with energy and life.

Ibrahim will represent the UAE in the next Venice Art Biennale, and his work will be featured in a solo exhibition at the Nation-al Pavilion UAE for the 2022 edition of La Biennale di Venezia.

Shaikha Al Mazrou

Shaikha Al Mazrou
Portrait of Shaikha Al Mazrou Image Credit: The Kurator

Shaikha Al Mazrou is what the UAE is all about; young, dynamic, creative, avant-garde. To sum it up, inspiring. Still in her early thirties, the Sharjah-native already has several solo exhibitions under her belt. Art had been hovering over Shaikha since a young age when she enjoyed drawing. When she heard about the College of Fine Arts and Design at the University of Sharjah, she switched from architecture studies to art, launching the journey that makes her today one of the most promising Emirati artists of her generation.

By her own admission, education has shaped Al Mazrou’s creative path, and her practice is anchored in the history of art, borrowing from minimalism and conceptual art, with influences by artists such as Paul Klee, Carl Andre and Wassily Kandinsky.

Scales, Shaikha Al Mazrou
Scales, Shaikha Al Mazrou, 2017, chamotte clay, copper, plaster, bronze, resin, cedar wood, beeswax, concrete, silicon and marble, 300 x 100 x 100 cm Image Credit: Supplied

The artist is known for her sharp forms and eye-catching, thought-provoking sculptures and installations.

Within A Circle III, Shaikha Al Mazrou
Within A Circle III, Shaikha Al Mazrou, 2017, red etching ink on handmade paper, 76 x 57 cm Image Credit: Supplied

Her fascination with materiality in art has time and again led her to combine materials such as electronic waste or construction materials with color and form to create abstract geometric works.

Rafter, Shaikha Al Mazrou
Rafter, Shaikha Al Mazrou, 2019, wet coated steel, 106 x 156.5 cm Image Credit: Supplied

Al Mazrou has participated in group exhibitions in various cities across the world: Abu Dhabi, Barcelona, Kentucky-USA, Torino to name a few.

Her fascination with materiality in art has time and again led her to combine electronic waste or construction materials with colour and form to create abstract geometric works

Ramin, Rokni & Hesam

When an artist has vision, magic can happen. So, imagine the amazing art that can stem from a creative imagination multiplied by three. That is the force behind Dubai-based Iranian artists, brothers Ramin and Rokni Haerizadeh, and Hesam Rahmanian, aka Ramin, Rokni & Hesam.

Exhibition View, Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian, 2020
Exhibition View, Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian, 2020 Image Credit: The Kurator

Ramin and Rokni were born in Tehran, Hesam in Knoxville. Iran and their love of art brought the childhood friends together, and they started speaking the same artistic language in their early twenties after attending private tutorials with influential painter Ahmad Amin Nazar. During that time, thirsty for knowledge, the three sketched, painted, read and discussed various cultural and current affairs topics with other like-minded peers.

A decade later, they moved to Dubai where they have been living and working together since. Their multifaceted house/live-in studio is a piece of art in itself; every corner, from ceiling to floor, has been carefully curated and decorated. It’s only by walking through the vibrant live-work space that the Haerizadeh-Rahmanian experience can be truly understood. It is like taking a deeper look into the mind of three geniuses at once.

Their multifaceted house/live-in studio is a piece of art in itself. It is like taking a deeper look into the mind of three geniuses at once

Today, the trio’s practice constantly redefines the concept of a collective, as theirs is frequently developing and expanding to include friends, artists and writers at large. However, despite the strength and limitless creativity of the work they produce together, Ramin, Rokni & Hesam do not suppress individualism; they also work independently and each one has his own workspace.

O You People!, Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian
O You People!, Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian 2020, acrylic, gesso and epoxy on wa-terproof MDF panels, 1600 x 1700 cm Image Credit: Supplied

Whether working as individuals or as a collaborative, the three always put back into the arts whatever they make from their art.

Their rich roster of works tackle issues that constitute everyday realities: historical models and current effects of anti-Muslim racism; images that populate our everyday lives and how these affect our view of the world; grief, the body and healing; working and living in quarantine etc.

The Birthday Party, Ramin Hae-rizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian
The Birthday Party, Ramin Hae-rizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian, 2015 Image Credit: Supplied

The trio has participated in group exhibitions in prominent venues including the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi’s The Creative Act in 2017; the inaugural Toronto Biennial of Art, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark and the Phillips Collection in Washington DC all three in 2019, and the 22nd Biennale of Sydney in 2020.