Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 24 September 2020

Emirati calligrapher's tribute to Lebanon: 'I've put a piece of my soul in this work'

Ahmed Al Mahri painted the work in front of a live audience at Dubai's City Walk, where a month-long art festival is currently being held

Interwoven calligraphic patterns make up the reds of Ahmed Al Mahri’s depiction of the Lebanese flag. The whites, signifying both peace and the country’s snow-capped mountains, can be seen peeking out from behind the calligraphic shapes. The cedar tree, a symbol of prosperity and eternity, is faithfully recreated at the centre.

Painted in front of a live audience at Dubai's City Walk, the work is the Emirati calligrapher’s tribute to Lebanon and its people.

“When an artist paints or draws, they always put a piece of their soul in their work. I’ve put a piece of my soul in this work. It is my way of showing solidarity with the people of Lebanon,” Al Mahri says in an Instagram video posted by City Walk.

The piece, painted a week after the devastating explosion at a port in Beirut, is displayed at the venue’s indoor courtyard as part of a month-long art festival organised by Dubai Canvas and Brand Dubai. It features works from artists across the world and follows the theme of travelling through art. Impressive 3D murals make up a large part of the collection.

"Aesthetically playful and experimental, the artworks on display at Dubai Canvas are delightfully interactive pieces that invite audiences to engage with them," says Shaima Al Suwaidi, manager of city branding at Brand Dubai. "The perspective-bending 3D murals encourage people to become part of the artwork and capture priceless Instagrammable moments."

Mexican street artist and Guinness World Record holder Juandres Vera is among the artists exhibiting work at the venue. His piece features a sprawling eagle-eye view of Dubai’s skyline, with the Burj Al Arab at its centre.

The exhibition also features a number of UAE artists. Saggaf Al Hashmi’s Rocket Traveling Through Space shows a stunning 3D illusion of a rocket bursting out of the floor.

Mahra Al Falahi has created two murals for the exhibition: A Plane of Thoughts that shows a paper plane flying through the sky, and The Wonder Brush, which is a tribute to the artistic spirit.

Dubai artist Milan Katanic is also hosting live meditation and experimental pendulum painting sessions twice a day throughout the festival.

For those visiting on a weekend, there will also be a number of live performances held alongside the exhibitions from 4pm to 9pm. They include mime acts and recitals of the acoustic harmonica and percussion instruments.

The festival concludes on Monday, August 31.

Updated: August 12, 2020 11:20 AM

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