Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

'Powerful and unpredictable': Sculpture of falcon wearing headphones unveiled at Dubai hotel

Neel Shukla's artwork aims to pay tribute to the UAE's heritage as well as give a nod to the younger generation

Neel Shukla with his falcon sculpture. Radisson Red Dubai Silicon Oasis
Neel Shukla with his falcon sculpture. Radisson Red Dubai Silicon Oasis

A 2.2-metre-tall falcon sculpture has been unveiled at the Radisson Red Dubai Silicon Oasis.

Wearing Beats-style headphones and made of marine-grade stainless steel, the scarlet artwork still doesn’t have an official title – but you could be the one to give it a name.

The artist behind the sculpture, Neel Shukla, said he knew right away that the project, which took 18 months to complete, was something he wanted to be involved in.

“Quirky art pieces are showcased in so many unique places and spaces all over the city and [Radisson Red] is such a cool space to highlight this vibe and spirit,” Shukla said in a statement.

The falcon will be the first thing visitors to the hotel – which had its official opening in February – will see, so Shukla sought to make a bold statement with the sculpture.

“We wanted to feature the falcon in a powerful way, yet making it unpredictable. The headphones resting on the falcon’s neck signify the falcon’s connection to the new generation and follows the overall design direction of the hotel.”

Those who want to be in with a chance of giving the sculpture of an official name need to take a selfie with the artwork, which can be found near the main entrance of Radisson Red, then post the selfie online and tag the hotel with your suggestions.

Shukla, who was raised in Dubai by Indian parents, has strong ties to the UAE's heritage. His father, Ramesh Shukla, arrived in the country more than 50 years ago and has spent his life documenting the Emirates' history. One of his photographs has been adapted as the official logo of the Spirit of the Union, a symbol used to celebrate the country’s National Day.

Shukla has taken cues from his father’s practice, drawing inspiration from local traditions and nature for his installations and art works.

Neel Shukla, the artist behind the falcon sculpture, with Stuart Birkwood, curator at the Radisson Red Dubai Silicon Oasis. 
Neel Shukla, the artist behind the falcon sculpture, with Stuart Birkwood, curator at the Radisson Red Dubai Silicon Oasis.

The artist, who operates the Four Winds Gallery in Dubai Design District, has designed the W sculpture at the W Hotel on the Palm Jumeirah and has worked on projects at Burj Al Arab and Grosvenor House Dubai.

“It has been a long journey to not only design this piece but ensure its safe installation and I’m very proud and excited to finally see it land,” he said.

Stuart Birkwood, curator at the Radisson Red Dubai Silicon Oasis, said he was excited to present the new sculpture to the community, adding that the red falcon represents both the city’s heritage and its modern culture.

“Art is at the core of the brand and it was important to me to make sure that our art was truly representative of everything Dubai had to offer."

Updated: May 31, 2020 12:15 PM

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