Watch the Emirati artist behind the ‘Love’ sculpture in Dubai

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Dubai: Millions of people passing through Dubai International Airport will notice a striking red sculpture in Arabic calligraphy titled ‘Love’.

Another eye-catcher is a gold-colored sculpture, ‘My Dallah’, made of fiberglass, installed in the arrivals area of ​​Terminal 3. It is an abstract representation of a coffee maker and a cup of Arabic coffee, known as Dallah and ‘Fenjan’, which are important parts of the culture of the UAE.

All of these shapes and more are part of a series of works by Emirati artist Jamal Haraboush Al Suwaidi.

Al Suwaidi, born in 1971, took an early interest in art. He started participating in art competitions held in his hometown when he was 14 years old.

After graduating from high school, he enrolled at the Sharjah Institute of Art and took several courses in sculpture, ceramics and calligraphy. He was then rewarded for his creativity at the University of Abu Dhabi in 2010.

“I worked and studied hard to develop my talent. My dream is to bring Emirati artwork to the world,” Al Suwaidi told Gulf News.

One of the unique aspects of Jamal Al Suwaidi’s work is the undeniable connection to the environment of the United Arab Emirates, where he combines aspects of nature, history and heritage into a single masterpiece.
Image credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

“My work has been influenced by my relationship with the environment of my birthplace, as well as the rich history, values ​​and heritage of the United Arab Emirates.”

One of the unique aspects of his work is the undeniable connection to the environment of the United Arab Emirates, where he combines aspects of nature, history and heritage into a single masterpiece.

He enjoys combining Arabic calligraphy letters with shapes inspired by the natural habitat of the United Arab Emirates, thus sharing the beauty of Arabic with others.

The Love series ranks among the artist’s most iconic works, displaying contrasting elements, such as the choice of color, and unifying elements, such as the use of lettering, to create the delicately positioned, two- or three-pronged form .

The idea for the Love sculpture first came about in 2013, when Al Suwaidi was traveling through the desert on a photographic expedition and spotted two isolated Al Ghaf trees, but simultaneously a duo, seemingly bringing each other companionship and support.

“I was inspired by the simplicity of nature in the desert. It occurred to me that love is everywhere and can be found throughout the universe and it travels through real feelings,” he said.

From this scene, he was inspired to make the sculpture Love, which was recovered by Dubai airport and installed in Terminal 1.

“It has become a message of love to the world. We welcome people as they arrive and say goodbye to the world with love and peace.

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Traveling to many countries made Jamal Al Suwaidi realize that an artist bears the responsibility of creating bridges between different cultures through his art.
Image credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Traveling to many countries made him realize that an artist bears the responsibility of creating bridges between different cultures through his art.

He has visited the island of Murano in Venice several times to study the rich history of glass structures on the Italian island.

“I met a lot of people there and I had good relations, especially with the big workshops. They said that Arabic calligraphy is difficult in glassware, but I managed to make different works of art; glass works of art mixed with the beauty of Arabic calligraphy,” he said.

Al Suwaidi pointed out that the UAE has provided support to Emirati artists by hosting many artistic and cultural events as well as having a wide range of museums.

“UAE is a pioneer in different sectors. We have one of the biggest museums in the world, like the Louvre in Abu Dhabi. We have the (soon to open) Museum of the Future in Dubai and others in different emirates,” he said.

Collect and craft NFT artwork

A non-fungible token (NFT) is a unique, non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain, a form of digital ledger. Al Suwaidi said he has noticed NFT art since the beginning of the cryptocurrency and digital age. He closely follows the evolution of the NFT market and collects works privately.

“I have been studying NFT since 2018. Before that I used to collect [physical] works of art and recently I am a collector of NFT arts,” he said.

Al Suwaidi believes that NFT arts have meaning and a future like any other art form. “It was the quality and specification of the digital arts that encouraged me to collect.”

He has a plan to create his own NFT arts.

“Work on my NFT art is almost complete. I have been working on it for two years and will exhibit it in due time,” he said.

Taking the form of digital assets, NFTs have become a major talking point in the art world in recent years due to several high-profile and high-profile auctions.

Recent examples that have rocked the industry and confirmed that digital art is a serious collectible include Pak’s ‘The Switch’ and ‘The Pixel’, which sold over $1,000,000, respectively. $4 million and $1.3 million, and “Crossroads,” by Beeple (Mike Winkelmann), which grossed $6.6 million.

Artwork “antibiotic”

Al Suwaidi’s latest artwork, titled ‘Antibiotic’, shows a medicine tablet where barrels of gasoline replace antibiotic pills.

“It’s a work of criticism and it has a philosophy. It combines the drug and the barrel of gasoline to show pharmaceutical companies and how they trade with it,” Al Suwaidi said.

His new work explores the complex and sometimes “conflicting” roles that antibiotics play in providing crucial treatment for the sick, while offering huge rewards to the powerful pharmaceutical and drug manufacturing industries.

Another meaning relates to countries known to be oil-rich which during the COVID-19 crisis played a major role.

“He represents countries known to be oil-rich like the United Arab Emirates which during the pandemic exploited their resources and oil to defeat COVID-19. The UAE has sent aid to many countries during the pandemic, which shows the country’s willingness to help others,” he added.

Work “Water pump”

One of Al Suwaidi’s favorite works of art is titled “Water Pump”.

An ancient green water pump structure inspired by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founding father of the United Arab Emirates.

Al Suwaidi said he wanted to represent Sheikh Zayed’s vision of turning the desert into green lands.

“The late Sheikh Zayed had the challenge of creating a viable agricultural industry in the desert. He insisted and believed he could take up the challenge. At that time, water pumps were widespread in the country,” Al Suwaidi said.

Dating back to the 1960s and operating well into the 1970s, the iconic pumps were considered some of the most important agricultural equipment for farmers, allowing them to extract water through pipes from underground wells which they could then use to plow their land and grow crops.

He was also inspired by key physical aspects of the pumps, including its resemblance to a film reel – something he drew upon when exploring the documentary component of the machine.

“The water pump’s coincidental similarity to a film reel clip art is significant because in many ways it not only forms a key part of the story of early farming, but indeed tells its story” , did he declare.

“The water pumps that poured water into the desert became a cinematic tool telling the story of the late Sheikh Zayed.”

“Martyr’s Helmet”

Another iconic work by Al Suwaidi is a tribute to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Commemoration Day provides a timely opportunity to highlight a very special work, which was created to mark the first UAE Martyr’s Day, held on November 30, 2015 in Abu Dhabi.

The artwork, created in stainless steel and reminiscent of traditional military-style headwear, bears the instantly recognizable four colors of the country’s national flag.

Created in a series of delicately curved lines that remind us of the artist’s passion for incorporating calligraphy into his work, the helmet is obviously meticulously researched and familiar in shape.

“A helmet is symbolic in many ways, offering protection in the same way our martyrs did when they sacrificed their lives for their country and its people,” he said.

“This work is a lasting legacy both for those who lost their lives serving their country and also on the day of memorial itself. Those who were martyred will always be remembered.

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