Celebrating Emirati Artistry in the Realm of Light and Shadow
Dubai, renowned for its vibrant cultural scene, recently hosted the Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival at the iconic Al Wasl Plaza in Expo City. This ten-night event, held from January 26 to February 4, 2024, showcased the ingenuity of seven top Emirati artists. Each artist presented unique stories that captured the essence of Dubai, melding traditional themes with contemporary artistry.
The Artists Transforming Dubai’s Nightscape
- Mattar Bin Lahej: Known for the calligraphic facade of the Museum of the Future, Bin Lahej’s work is a blend of painting, photography, sculpture, and design. His use of Arabic calligraphy and depictions of horses in motion pay homage to Emirati culture. Dubbed the ‘Man of Steel,’ his art weaves narratives of emotion and storytelling, vividly representing the UAE’s cultural essence.
- Dr. Najat Makki: A pioneer in the art world, Dr. Makki’s abstract and colorful representations of the UAE’s landscapes and female figures stand out. Her use of fluorescent paints and UV-A lighting creates immersive, dreamlike experiences, drawing from the country’s inspiring women and the historic Dubai Creek.
- Dr. Mohamed Yousif: Co-founder of the Emirates Fine Arts Society, Yousif is celebrated for his whimsical sculptures inspired by childhood memories in the UAE, often crafted from palm fronds. His multifaceted talent also extends to theater, contributing as a playwright, director, and actor.
- Abdalla Almulla: Almulla is recognized for his geometrically inspired architectural designs, exploring the relationships between light and Islamic prayer times. His innovative use of patterns and geometry bridges tradition and technology, and design theory and visual aesthetics.
- Khalid Alshafar: Alshafar’s work in furniture and intricate objects is a groundbreaking fusion of Emirati culture and contemporary design. Known for collaborations with LASVIT and the Louvre Abu Dhabi, his creations transcend aesthetics, embodying a personal connection between form and function.
- Reem Al Ghaith: A versatile artist, Al Ghaith explores urban transformation in the UAE through mixed media. Her portfolio includes photography, print, and installation art, capturing Dubai’s dynamic evolution. Her work has been featured in prominent international venues, including the Venice Biennale and the UN Headquarters.
- Maitha Hamdan: Hamdan is a multidisciplinary artist working with fabric, textiles, and performance art. She explores social boundaries, religion, and narratives. A filmmaker and a graduate fellow artist, her work has been featured in various art programs and residencies.
A Fusion of Light and Culture
The Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival, co-curated by Amna Abulhoul and Anthony Bastic, illuminated the nights of Dubai with an artistic interplay of light and shadow. This festival served as a platform for these artists to narrate the story of Dubai through their creative lenses. Bastic emphasized the significance of light in Emirati and Arab culture, noting its profound influence on the art and architecture of the region.
The festival represents a beautiful integration of artistic generations and styles, placing Dubai on both local and global cultural stages. It highlights the depth and diversity of Emirati artistry, showcasing how traditional motifs can be transformed through contemporary mediums.
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