x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Emirati Expressions exhibition to showcase six influential UAE artists

Emirati Expressions, to be held from October 30 until January 18 next year, will feature a collection of previously unrealised projects from 6 influential artists.

Ebtisam Abdulaziz, is one of six Emirati artists whose work is to go on display at a biennial exhibition on Saadiyat Island. Sarah Dea/ The National
Ebtisam Abdulaziz, is one of six Emirati artists whose work is to go on display at a biennial exhibition on Saadiyat Island. Sarah Dea/ The National

A biennial exhibition showcasing six of the best Emirati artists is to go on display on Saadiyat Island.

The exhibit, Emirati Expressions, will feature a collection of new projects from the influential artists.

“They’ve all had ideas but they’ve lacked the infrastructure and logistical support to realise those big dreams,” said the show’s curator, Reem Fadda, who is head of Middle Eastern art at the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi project.

“If this generation is as good as we believe, we’re sure their dreams are big.

“When we visited their studios it turned out that each of them had an unrealised dream. Some had been waiting as long as 20 years to do it.”

The artists whose work will be shown prominently are Abdullah Al Saadi, Ebtisam Abdulaziz, Layla Juma, Mohamed Al Mazrouei, Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim and Mohammed Kazem.

They are some of the most established names in the local art scene, said Ms Fadda, who hopes the exhibition will highlight their impact.

“We really want to demonstrate that the mid-generation of artists are sophisticated and established,” she said.

“Some of them have been practising for over two decades. We want to show that breadth of their work and in so doing demonstrate the intellectual history of this country, that is made up of this group of artists.”

This will be the third time Emirati Expressions has been held in the capital. The other two showings, in 2009 and 2011, had a different curator.

Ebtisam Abdulaziz, one of the featured artists, said the first show had little to tie it together.

“They were focused on showing the world that the UAE had around 1,000 artists,” she said.

“That’s wrong, because they have to be focused on the quality, not the quantity. It was kind of a fish market. Every single person who practises art, whether they were young or old, were in it.”

But she said she was delighted about the direction of the latest show.

“I’m so happy that they’re looking to be at a good level,” she said.

“Everyone has been focused on bringing good quality. As soon as I knew that Reem was involved, I knew it would be in capable hands.”

Maisa Al Qassimi, the show’s co-director, is programmes manager at the museums department of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority.

She said organisers attempted to show more depth of talent this time around.

“Having a smaller number of artists this year means the show has a greater focus,” she said. “It’s more in-depth this year.

“It’s not about showing as much talent as possible. This is an ongoing exhibition and everyone will have their chance to shine.

“This time it is a thematic show, whereas the previous ones were generic and had a lot more artists.”

Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan, chairman of the authority, said the show was to nurture creative talent in the UAE.

“It is imperative and logical that Emirati artists are supported alongside evolving projects like the various cultural and arts institutions in Abu Dhabi.

“Emirati Expressions and its ongoing exhibition series is another key programme that presents the talent of Emirati artists through various mediums, to an interested UAE audience on an international stage,” he said.

“Through supporting a variety of artistic forms, not only the visual arts through exhibitions and programmes but also other cultural facets, the aim is to position Emirati artists at the core of Abu Dhabi’s growing art scene and to nurture and support their talents through active and continuous interaction with world art experts.”

Emirati Expressions will be held from October 30 until January 18 at the Manarat Al Saadiyat arts centre.

mcroucher@thenational.ae