Take a leisurely stroll through The Pointe, the latest neighbourhood on the Palm, and you may come face to face with wildlife. A playful crocodile frolics around as a bear satisfies its appetite and a golden falcon, nearly six metres tall, takes pride of place against the backdrop of Atlantis, The Palm. These limited-edition, polygonal animal sculptures are the creations of French-Tunisian sculptor Idriss B, who moved to the UAE last year.
Born and raised in France, Idriss's foray into the world of art and sculpture came three years ago, while he was designing and producing windows for major brands (think Dior and Coach). Idriss was diagnosed with gout, a condition that left him bedridden for months, and restless from spending all that time in bed, the animal lover picked up a pen and paper, and "rediscovered" a childhood hobby of sketching, first creating a gorilla. He enjoyed the process so much that he set about turning the drawing into a sculpture – and a successful career.
"When my wife and friends saw it, they loved it," Idriss says. "I started getting orders to create customised pieces. Everyone relates to a certain animal and colour, and people wanted pieces that were exclusive to them. At first I didn't want to put my name on them, either – it was my wife who convinced me otherwise."
Idriss started to create limited-edition animal sculptures, distinguishable by their life-size proportions and polygonal form. For him, it was an attempt to express feelings through their poses. "Animals express emotions in more clear ways," he says.
To find the right pose, Idriss studies wildlife documentaries. He then sketches out a design, a process he says takes weeks to get right. When he's satisfied, he uses 3D printing technology to create a mould for his animal. The final sculpture is produced using resin and fibreglass, and can be made in a variety of colours and finishes. Some sculptures feature more than one colour, some have gold finishes, while others can be encrusted with gems. The prices for his work range from Dh10,000 to Dh50,000.
It takes four to six months to complete each project. “I’m my first client,” he says with a laugh. “If I’m not happy with the sculpture, I trash it and start the process all over again.”
Every animal's pose is unique, the artist says, and sends out a different message. "For example, I wanted the crocodile to be playful, childish even. I don't want people to think of them as something to be afraid of," he says. "With environmental issues increasingly coming into the limelight, it's about bringing you closer to animals. At the end of the day, we're all connected."