Cultural Foundation: Life is a Circus
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Until the 20th of March, 2023, the Cultural Foundation is holding Life is a Circus, a group show featuring 22 digital artists from the UAE. Thus, the Foundation revisits its first exhibition of digital art held in 1996: the works of multidisciplinary artist Jalal Luqman, one of the pioneers in Emirati art, were displayed. His art practice includes not only digital format; he also uses traditional media, metal, steel, wood, and plastic. In Life is a Circus, Luqman’s artworks are on view again. 

The artists featured in the exhibition have been commissioned to create work for the show, exploring the irony of contemporary life. Life is a Circus is also the Cultural  Foundation’s first NFT art exhibition: visitors can buy the artworks online. 

The exhibition view

Among the artists who are participating in the show there are Hamdan Al Shamsi, Rafiaa Hussain, Rashid Al Mulla, Aisha Al Hashmi, Saggaf Al Hashmi, Reem Al Mazroei, and others.

Hamdan Buti Al Shamsi, a self-taught multidisciplinary artist and writer, is an alumnus of Campus Art Dubai and the Salama Emerging Artist Fellowship (SEAF). The artist believes that one of the crucial roles of art is documenting cultural heritage. Some of his projects explore identity within a national framework.

He has taken part in such exhibitions as ’10 Years Later’ (Tashkeel, 2018); ‘Emirati Insights’ (Abu Dhabi, 2015); ‘Past Forward: Contemporary Art from the Emirates’ (USA tour, 2014); and others. Besides, he has received commissions from Tashkeel, Qattara Arts Centre, Abu Dhabi Airports, and EMAAR.

Rafiaa Hussain, Vanitas, April (2016). Acrylic on board. Courtesy of the artist

Rafiaa Hussain graduated from the University of Westminster, London, in 1992, specialising in Fashion design. Deeply interested in Islamic art and architecture and calligraphy, in her art, she mixes modern techniques and mediums with traditional calligraphic styles. Being a member of Islamic Muslimah Artists Network, Hussain has excelled in digital art and glass art incorporating calligraphy on glass, according to her own words.

Rashid Al Mulla (born in Sharjah) is an Emirati artist who lives in Dubai. His works, acrylic paintings on large canvases, are mostly portraits, but he also creates environmental artworks. While painting portraits, the artist focuses on conveying human emotions, while in his other art pieces he draws attention to ecological issues: water shortage, deforestation, and animal cruelty.

Rashid’s art is featured in different galleries and private and public collections, for example, Sikka Arts Festival and Faike exhibitions at FN design, Dubai.

Aisha Al Ahmadi (born in 1997, Abu Dhabi, the UAE) is an artist, writer, and aspiring curator. In her research-based work, she concentrates on themes of identity politics, truth, post-colonialism, and external influences on our perception of ourselves and the world. In her art, Al Ahmadi uses drawing, printmaking, painting, and sculpture.

In 2020, the artist received her B.F.A. in Visual Arts with a minor in Curatorial Practices from Zayed University, Abu Dhabi, the UAE, and is currently pursuing her M.A. in History of Art and Museum Studies from Sorbonne University, Abu Dhabi, the UAE. She is also a recipient of the Cultural Foundation Art Residency 2021.

Aisha Al Ahmadi, the installation “Signs: Vehicles to Truth”, 2020

Saggaf Alhashmi (born in 1983, Al-Ain City, the UAE) is a self-taught artist who has always been fascinated by the Emirati culture and Islamic and Arabic aspects and who considers art a way to spread peace, beauty, and love. To create his art, he mostly uses merging lines that make up his works.

The artist has been commissioned in the UAE and the Gulf region to create different art pieces: murals and big canvas paintings. His artworks have been included in numerous exhibitions (for example, Emirati Expressions, Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition (ADIHEX)) and private collections. They can be found in the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs, the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi, the Department of Culture and Tourism, the Martyr’s Families’ Affairs Office, Government of Dubai Media Office, Brand Dubai, Dubai Culture, and UAE Embassies.

Rashid Al Mulla, live art for Flag Day in collaboration with Ministry of Culture, 2.4 m x 1.5 m. Courtesy of the artist

Reem Al Mazrouei is a self-taught visual novel artist, a freelance illustrator, and a storyteller from the Emirates. She draws her inspiration from History, different cultures and traditions, folklore, and mythology. Her art practice includes drawing, sculpturing, graphic sculpturing, graphic design, concept art, story development, game design, animating, and illustrating.

Now the artist is studying B.A visual art, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi campus, the UAE, and animation at Twofour-54 animation academy in collaboration with Cartoon Network. 

To learn more about the exhibition, please visit its official web page.

You might also be interested in visiting the exhibition of Tania Marmolejo.