Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 17 November 2019

Artist eL Seed reaches new heights with huge calligraphic painting in Dubai

He is in the final stages of his enormous artwork, which spells out the words of a poem by Sheikh Mohammed, titled Positive Spirit.
eL Seed’s first public artwork in Dubai, on the side of The Green Planet. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National
eL Seed’s first public artwork in Dubai, on the side of The Green Planet. Jeffrey E Biteng / The National

Weeks after he began, eL Seed is putting the final touches to his first public-art project in Dubai, a massive calligraphic painting of a poem by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

The artist’s trademark style is now known all over the world: long, swooping Arabic characters that intertwine with each other. The letters curve in such a way that it seems almost like a dance. The individual words of the source material are not always legible, but the proportion and structure of the artwork are technically brilliant and the content is always fascinating.

He has been living in Dubai for three years and opened his studio in Alserkal Avenue last year.

But, despite creating works on walls all over the world, this is the first time he has made his public mark in the city that he loves.

“Sometimes you have to go around the world to come back to where you are,” he says, “and I am happy that I waited all this time for the right wall”.

He is now in the final stages of his enormous artwork, which spells out the words of a poem titled Positive Spirit.

Its 10 verses talk about the “unwavering resolve” to realise your dreams, as well as the importance of faith.

The central couplet from which the poem gets its name reads: “A positive spirit resides in our soul/It demands our attention and plays a strong role.” He says he found the message inspiring. “It is a call for positivity, and in the world we live in today, this is very important,” he says. “I love Dubai, I love this city and it is important for me to do something that is meaningful. I hope that people reflect on the philosophy behind this poem.”

The mural is on the side of The Green Planet, a building on the edge of Dubai’s City Walk that houses a large, indoor rainforest with plants, birds and insects from tropical climates.

The building’s outer walls are triangular and converge towards a central point, meaning eL Seed’s work is painted upon sloping surfaces.

He used an iridescent silver spray paint, which means the colours of the text change depending on the light and the angle from which it is viewed.

The effect adds another layer of appreciation to the artwork because at certain points of the day, when the sun is strong, it is difficult, from a distance, to see anything at all.

As you get closer, the words come into focus and seem to shine in shades of blue and green. At night, the letters become darker, mirroring the environment.

Although there are now many pieces of public art in this area, almost all were created by overseas artists.

What makes this work special is that it is from a resident artist who genuinely wants to make his mark in the city.

“I am doing this for the people and for the city,” he says.

“Letting me paint on a building of such scale shows a great amount of trust in me as an artist and I feel valued and respected to have the honour to do that.”

aseaman@thenational.ae

Updated: December 14, 2016 04:00 AM

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