For the 10th-anniversary edition of the Ras Al-Khaimah Fine Arts Festival in the UAE, held under the theme “The Journey,” the organizers invited artists to “consider the notion of the journey through the lens of ancestry, migration, national identity, and personal growth.” Emirati-Australian artist and graphic designer Abdulrahman Abdulla Aldark tackled that brief with this mural addressing his Emirati heritage and telling the story of Ras-Al Khaimah. “The deeper, underlying message is the depiction of our present and bright future as Ras Al-Khaimah’s youth,” the festival brochure states. It’s not just the story of the past and present of Ras Al-Khaimah told in the mural that reflects the theme of the festival either; Aldark spent 350 hours across two months creating this tribute to his hometown. Still, he felt it was rushed. “While I do love the final product that I’ve created, I would definitely have liked a lot more time to work on it,” he wrote on Instagram.
‘UAE’s 50th Year — Past’
This is one of two illustrations contributed by the Emirati artist to RAKFAF this year (the second — “Present” — acting as a sequel to “Past”). Lutfi is on the autism spectrum, and uses his unique perspective on Emirati life to imbue his incredibly detailed black-and-white works with sardonic observational humor. “I like to make people laugh and smile. The world can be a very funny place,” Lutfi has said.
The Emirati artist, who focuses on photography as a medium, tells Arab News that her work “showcases (female) empowerment in Emirati society — an enigmatic display of bold, fearless, and true-hearted women.”
‘The Journey of the Curious Mind’
The Sudanese photographer contributed three eye-catching images to the show, all employing visual trickery. In this piece, he explained to Arab News, “I start with a question: What if we had the ability to bend the horizon and see things differently from the perspective of other creatures? Each scene is the combined result of both eyes seeing things differently — it’s an experiment to see how it impacts the perception of shapes. It is a story of self-exploration and new perspectives.”
This image is from a series that the Filipino architect, who has lived in the Emirates for almost two decades, created to “portray the journey of the UAE and how its national identity, culture and heritage are being preserved for generations to come.” It was a particularly apt contribution, marking the UAE’s 50th anniversary.
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