There may have been a cake for the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation's celebration of its 10thAbu Dhabi Festival this year but what really took the cake was the self-gift that will endure and is out there for everyone to see: Two sculptures by two renowned UAE sculptors, Jalal Luqman and Mattar bin Lahej.
Commissioned by the foundation itself, the two sculptures will be on display on the beachfront of one of Abu Dhabi's latest shopping attractions, the Galleria on Al Maryah Island, till today.
From concept to style and the materials used, the sculptures could not be more different yet equally intriguing.
Luqman's Point of View is a series of stacked cubes that look different from different angles. When viewed from the right, they form the word Allah in Arabic.
Lahej's Rhapsody of Culture is a stainless steel creation resembling an oud, a lute-like musical instrument. Look closer and there are spherical shapes within, creating multidimensional reflections.
Both artists have long been collaborating with the foundation, one of the UAE's most supportive patrons of the arts.
They talk to Khaleej Times about their work.
Art for a point of view — Jalal Luqman
With Point of View I'm trying to make a point. Sometimes we become very judgemental, sticking to one point of view. If we change and look at things from different angles we can either be wrong or see something that is totally unexpected.
I had only about 30 days to produce it. It was a challenge to cut high-grade aluminium, weld it, prepare it and paint it for the event, but it worked out.
The response I got from people was very interesting. It is a great thing for the sculpture to be exhibited in the way the foundation exhibits artworks, in public spaces.
I have been in the art field since the time when art was not respected and artists had no support. Only when a political move happened did people change their point of view about art, culture, dance and music.
By "political move” I refer to the Cultural District, which is the result of a decision by the Abu Dhabi leadership. We (could have built) a Disneyland on that island or a recreational facility, but the leadership chose to invest in the arts and culture.
Working with the foundation is very important. Throughout history, there has always been a patron of the arts and to me that is the foundation. It is an institution that supports and fights for the benefits and advancement of artists, which is very rare.
We are very fortunate to have something like this that supports education and the cultural world and is available for every artist.
I don't think art belongs to a gallery or museum only. It belongs to the community because it is a form of communication, a way to give people a different window to see through. When it is out there, (and is ) part of the community, interacting is very effective. That's how art is supposed to be.
I don't think public art should be foreign. It is like installing a foreign object in your body and wondering why it is rejected.
Public art produced by local artists says something about the country itself. I went to the Czech republic once and just sat looking at the buildings and sculptures, and they taught me a lot about the history (of) the country, religious, cultural, historical, mythological or just fantasy. (They) made a statement.
Discovering music — Mattar bin Lahej
One day, I was thinking that there is music in all forms of art. When I read a book, I feel there is music coming through it, I feel music from watching a good movie or a painting. This is how the concept began.
Rhapsody of Culture looks like an oud, but there is more to it than that. There is movement within the sculpture. This is how all my sculptures and my paintings are. My line is movement, energy, speed.
Over the years I developed my style to bring out the energy more. When I started painting horses, for example, I didn't want to kill the subject, the running horse; so I did over 2,500 lines to give the painting the feel of the running horse and its energy.
This style reflects my personality. You never see me sitting still or quiet. I must always do something. My wife always argues with me about it. I live in my body more than in my mind. When you go close to the work you see reflections and mirroring images. This is the energy the sculpture reflects, amplified by the round shapes. The reflections within reflections also act as an interaction between the viewer and the artwork.
It is 10 years since the foundation has been (promoting) the cultural scene. I feel there is a difference. There is now an art movement in the UAE, but we are still building the foundation.
The fact that the UAE has no tradition in art like Europe is a big problem. It means we don't have a lot of talent, or at least nurtured talent.
Art should start from the basics, from simple drawing, the feel of the material. Often people throw things together and claim it means something, but this is not art. There is no feeling or emotion involved. The real artist creates something that comes from within. This is how you create not just art, but history.
Source: Khaleej Times