Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the 13th edition of Abu Dhabi Festival will once again offer a diverse visual arts programme throughout April and May 2016. Marking the 20th anniversary of Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), a record-breaking twenty artworks by twenty Emirati artists have been commissioned for 'Portrait of a Nation', an exhibition which will feature an additional thirty artworks by eminent local artists, reflecting upon their homeland. The exhibition will run from 10 April to 10 May 2016 at The Gallery, Emirates Palace.
Hoda Al Khamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) and the Abu Dhabi Festival said, "Over the last two decades, ADMAF has embraced and nurtured all forms of artistic expression. As we celebrate our 20th anniversary, the 2016 Abu Dhabi Festival gives us the ideal opportunity to repeat our ‘Pledge for Culture’ – a renewed commitment to culture for all. It is the artists of a nation who build the very fabric of cultures by offering their perspectives on the world. In Portrait of a Nation, we have invited the visual artists of the UAE to make their own pledge for culture by creating an artwork that illustrates the influence that their homeland has on them."
Portrait of a Nation brings together the UAE’s leading contemporary practitioners such as Ebtisam Abdul Aziz, Amna Al Dabbagh, and Hassan Sharif, to reflect upon the nation from individual artistic perspectives. The exhibition is divided in seven themes, which are Nation & Unity, Geography & Nature, Architecture & Urbanism, Portraiture & Identity, Religion & Spirituality, Language & Calligraphy and Tradition & Heritage. These areas summarise the diverse topics and issues that the featured Emirati artists deal with and that continue to be of significant interest in their ongoing creative practice. From large–scale indoor and outdoor sculptures to paintings, drawings, photographs, collages, videos and installations, Portrait of a Nation captures the ever changing face of the visual arts in the United Arab Emirates today.
"In today’s ever-complex world, it is more important than ever to seize that which the artistic expression can offer, the opportunity to stand back and explore the many similarities and differences that shape us as individuals, communities, nations and regions," said Hoda Kanoo, adding that "Portrait of a Nation offers a rare opportunity to commission 20 new artworks by artists, many of whom have had longstanding ties with the Foundation since its inception in 1996."
The visual arts programme of Abu Dhabi Festival 2016 also includes Picture This an exhibition of artworks created earlier this year by autistic children, including students of The New England Centre for Children Abu Dhabi, The Future Centre for Special Needs, GOALS UAE and The Autism Society, in collaboration with START. The exhibition will run until 30th April 2016 at The Galleria, Al Maryah Island.