Who would have ever thought that a person expelled from his university three times would go on to become a world-famous talent? Mattar Bin Lahej opened the first ever art gallery in the UAE to be managed and owned by an artist. He is a self-taught and self-represented artist who discovered his innate love for painting, sculpture and photography at a tender age. His artistic journey is depicted through his many notable works stationed at Marsam Mattar Gallery, which he independently founded.
Insider info: Champion of The Nationals’ Gallery, Abu Dhabi. Exhibits have been auctioned at Bonhams.
A specialist in micro and macro photography, Yousef Al Habshi captures intricate details through his talented skills. His expertise lies in shooting insects and their parts; a niche in its own way. Yousef’s photos are used by numerous universities to carry out scientific research. His photography has drawn compliments from admirers who dub his work ‘a piece of finesse which deserves more than just a glance.’ Portraits, landscapes, wildlife, butterflies, and moths; Yousef’s photos speak a language of their own.
Insider info: National Geographic Al Arabiya magazine allocated 14 pages to his work. The magazine also used his photos as main content for their 2016 calendar.
Isn’t it nostalgic to think about the days everyone rushed home from school just to watch their favorite cartoon? Mohammed Saeed Harib has given more reasons to enjoy watching cartoons, this time in 3D. The creator and producer of FREEJ, an animated cartoon series, Mohammed Saeed Harib has changed the face of entertainment in UAE. FREEJ also glorifies the sticker store of Facebook messenger and has rightfully captured the minds of people with cute Arabic characters. The three successful seasons of FREEJ and a theatrical production is enough to speak about Mohammed’s innovation and execution.
Insider info: The largest theatrical production of the region, FREEJ FOLKLORE was directed by him.
They say an artist’s true creativity lies in the diverse ideas they can stir in the spectator’s mind. Bringing the idea of surrealism to the forefront by combining it with traditional and contemporary Emirati culture is what defines Maisoon’s style. Her distinctive take on the arts has led her to focus more on bones and skulls of animals and humans, after being inspired by seeing her first X-ray as a teenager. Some may see it as dark and deep, while for some it could be witty and questioning. Some of her art pieces depict faceless people; leaving the audience to draw an inference from the historic movements of GCC and the media representation.
Insider info: Every painting or sculpture is a reminder that all humans are internally same.
The idea that ‘an artist finds his/her passion in many forms’ holds true for Shayma Al Mughairy, who is a renowned sand artist and blessed with a talent that sees her play seven musical instruments. A mixture of drawings and feelings through a story and not just a picture, is what makes sand art a popular as well as an extremely loved form of art. Shayma’s favorite topic for her audience is depicting social issues. Her love for sand art started at an early age and she has vowed to never give up her affection and skills which leaves people awestruck. Shayma sees her art as a gift that contributes to the million smiles she spreads each time she demonstrates a new theme.
Insider info: Contestant of the famous show Arab’s Got Talent in the year 2012.
A lover of digital photography, Saeed Khalifa is now experimenting with installation, video, and hand-crafted work. A name behind top-notch fashion shoots, Saeed has a keen eye for detail and a love for the obscure. He likes to bend reality by using a lot of illustrations in the background or digitally painting over his images. His work clearly aims to spark conversation: a staunch believer in freedom of thoughts and experimenting, Saeed produces work that is appealing and elite in the photography genre.
Insider info: Winner of Emerging Emirati Artist Award in the year 2014, he received a two-year representation of his artwork at Sabrina Amrani Gallery in Madrid, Spain as a prize.
Mohammed Hindash discovered his undying love for art when trying to achieve perfection of features and expressions while drawing; ink drawings to paintings to beautiful portraits, it has been a gradual love of discovery. The significance of cosmetic surgery and a race to achieve symmetry of facial features inspired him to master his skills in portraits. He identifies his style as editorial-photography-meets-painting, and uses photographs as an inspiration to reflect his artistic talent; for him, it’s a competition where he aims to win over the machine. Apart from producing life-like portraits, Hindash has a makeup tutorial channel which has drawn many followers.
Insider info: As a student, he was singled out to give a solo exhibition – a rare feat. A former recipient of Sheikha Manal Young Artist Award.
Calligraphy is a way to beautify words and bring out the exceptional form of art intertwined with alphabets. The fine strokes of Arabic writing and the precise movement each alphabet requires can be traced back to ancient times. Dubai-based calligrapher Majid Alyousef has given 25 years of his life to mastering the Thuluth script. His interest was sparked at the age of eight, when with no formal instruction available he began to learn the delicate form of writing from old masters. He calls his work, ‘an intersection between language and abstraction’. Even if you don’t read or write Arabic, there’s still a great deal to be appreciated with the intuitive sight of Majid’s work.
Insider info: His work graces the Media Office of HH Mohammed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE.
Khalid Mezaina is a young Emirati talent who started his own studio called Krossbreed, which is involved in designing and illustration. His artwork is reflected through shirts, prints, stationery, publications, graphic designs, workshops and more. Inspired by everyday elements and buildings, Khalid aims to tell Dubai’s simple story through his quirky, vibrantt drawings.
Insider info: Breaking free from traditional norms, a fun side to the art scene.
Poems are written from the soul and recited through the heart – poetry is arguably the only medium which brings the past and future together in the present. Drawing in the audience with her emotions and exploring her inner conflicts growing up with a Japanese-American mother and an Emirati father makes Afra’s poems seem like an expedition of situations. Afra’s take on serious issues as well as social stigmas have been applauded and widely loved on national and international platform. Though she is pursuing her PhD in International Relations and Diplomacy, poems still take the center stage of her life.
Insider info: First spoken word poet to win the 2017 ADMAF creativity award.
Sana’s self-taught art expression is the extension of her attachment to wildlife and pets. Every element is an outcome of precision carved through flawless representation. The portraits she creates can be compared to a high definition photography – she lays emphasis on the contrast, shade tone, features, and realistic feel of the piece.
Insider info: Sana donates a notable sum to a cat rescue organization on the sale of a cat portrait.