Filipino artist wins Dh50,000 mural contest at Dubai’s Waterfront Market

Nemar Precioso Sencil's work celebrates 50 years of the UAE and will be permanently displayed inside the market

Dubai Culture and Waterfront Market announced Nemar Precioso Sencil as the winner of the 2021 Murals and Art Competition, with prize money of Dh50,000. Antonie Robertson / The National
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In his mural History of the Future, artist Nemar Precioso Sencil celebrates the old and new.

The central figure of Sencil’s work, which won him this year’s Murals and Art Competition by Waterfront Market, is an Emirati child surrounded by markers of the UAE’s heritage and development over the past 50 years.

Architectural feats, from the traditional wind towers and forts to the towering Burj Khalifa, are represented alongside Expo 2020 Dubai's Al Wasl Dome and the soon-to-open Museum of the Future. But there are also small details on Emirati culture, such as a bowl of luqaimat and a woman crafting talli embroidery.

Sencil, 31, who is from the Philippines and has been living in the UAE for four years, describes his style as playing on “surreal art in a whimsical way”.

The artist says that his paintings are often based on his imaginations and dreams, while still considering the society around him. The results, he says, are “a little bizarre, but in a beautiful way”.

Now in its fourth year, the Murals and Art Competition is a collaboration between Waterfront Market, part of the Deira Enrichment Project in Dubai, and Dubai Culture.

In November 2021, Waterfront Market announced a call for entries for the competition, with the latest one asking participants to celebrate the UAE’s Golden Jubilee.

Sencil approached the theme by thinking about UAE leaders and imagining their “collective vision” for the country.

For his win, he has received Dh50,000 as prize money and his mural will be permanently displayed inside the market.

Working with traditional materials and digital paintings, Sencil says he next plans to have an exhibition of his work and share his skills with younger creatives. “I would love to teach children how to make art and continue sharing my artworks all over the world,” he says.

Updated: February 17, 2022, 2:04 PM