x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Shoppers at Marina Mall savour artist at work

Having painted several three-metre-tall canvasses before, Wasel Safwan is not intimated by works of a larger scale.

Wasel Safwan with the full-size replica of an F1 car at Marina Mall.
Wasel Safwan with the full-size replica of an F1 car at Marina Mall.

Abu Dhabi // Having painted several three-metre-tall canvasses before, Wasel Safwan is not intimated by works of a larger scale. Even so, the Emirati artist from Al Ain was nervous about applying his brush to a 340kg fibreglass replica of a Formula 1 race car over the weekend. "I've painted since my childhood, but of course I've never painted something like this before," he said yesterday, gesturing at the 4.7-metre-long chassis resting on the platform behind him at Marina Mall.

"I thought, 'I'm not the right person. There must be artists specialised to do cars'. But I decided I would try it." After some thought, Mr Safwan, 30, decided he was pleased with the candy-coloured result. He tentatively calls his latest work on four wheels "UAE-ism Abu Dhabi". Mr Safwan continued to daub vibrant acrylics on the car yesterday for four hours in front of shoppers as part of the live art exhibit The Art of Racing. He began painting on Friday and took a break only to have an orange juice, he said.

The Art of Racing programme is part of the Yasalam entertainment events organised ahead of next month's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Other live art demonstrations will feature customised F1 cars painted by the young women behind the art collective Mizmah, as well as cars by the Emirati artists Dana Saif al Mazrouei, Jalal Luqman and Khalid Mezaina. Admiring Mr Safwan's work in progress yesterday with his two young sons, Ali Mehsen, 40, said he was happy to see young artists such as Mr Safwan showing their talents.

"It's really nice to see art from locals," said Mr Mehsen, a Lebanese interior designer, who has also purchased Grand Prix tickets. "Whether you will like this work or not, the good thing is to see artwork coming from young UAE society." mkwong@thenational.ae