The Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC) has launched a new book series that was developed in collaboration with five Emirati calligraphers and designers.
Titled Emirati Art – Pioneers Among Us, the series is comprised of five books that aim to promote local art and culture. The books document the contributions of five artists, Abdul Qader Al Rais, Najat Makki, Abdul Raheem Salem, Mohamed Yousif Ali and Mohammed Mandi. Each book tells the story of one of the artists, featuring their accomplishments and the works that marked their career.
The books will be available at the ALC pavilion at this year's Abu Dhabi Art, taking place from November 17 to 21 at Manarat Al Saadiyat. The ALC is participating under the theme of Visual and Print, and it will showcase a collection of its most prominent publications, which include books on visual arts.
“The ALC is committed to its role in documenting Emirati art history and promoting prominent works and the artists who created them,” said Ali bin Tamim, head of the ALC.
“This is in line with the leadership’s vision to advance the Arabic language and encourage its use in cultural and creative fields around the world.”
Bin Tamim said launching Emirati Art – Pioneers Among Us so close to the UAE’s Golden Jubilee celebrations creates an opportunity to recognise the accomplishments of Emirati visual artists and calligraphers who have “made their mark on the local and international art worlds".
“Their creations helped mould a distinct national artistic identity and chart a path for the art sector in the UAE,” he said.
The series is launching under the ALC's Esdarat project, which aims to shed light on Emirati talents and produce references for future generations.
The five books in the series
The publications issued as part of the Emirati Art - Pioneers Among Us offer samples of each of the five artists’ work that reflect their years of activity, evolution as artists and the part they played in enriching the art scene in the UAE.
Each book includes a foreword by a prominent art critic commenting on the artist’s work, followed by a collection of their paintings, sketches, or sculptures. There is also the artist’s biography; a brief overview of their career and the exhibitions they participated in; and personal photographs.
The volume focusing on Salem is titled How Many Colours Are There in Black. Born in Dubai, Salem is a fine arts pioneer in the UAE whose works have been displayed in biennials across the Arab region and the world. He earned a Bachelor of Literature and Fine Arts from the University of Cairo in 1981 and worked as an arts teacher, as well as president of the Emirates Fine Arts Society.
Day After Colour is a book about Makki who was born in Dubai She studied fine arts at Cairo’s Helwan University, earning a bachelor’s degree in 1982, then a master’s in composite studies in ancient Egyptian civilisation in 1988, and finally a Doctorate in fine arts philosophy in 2001. She won the prestigious State Appreciation Award in Science, Literature and Arts in 2008.
Titled Sculptor of Memories, the third book focuses on Ali, an assistant professor at the Fine Arts and Design College at the University of Sharjah. Born in Sharjah, he received a doctorate in fine arts from Roshni University in India, and went on to win many awards, including the State Appreciation Award in Arts.
Emirati artist Al Rais is the subject of the fourth book, titled The Spirit of Beginnings. Al Rais is a fine arts pioneer in the UAE. His works fuse abstract and figurative art and are visibly inspired by the UAE’s local landscape, as well as Arab heritage and crafts.
The artist also draws inspiration from traditional Gulf architecture, the desert landscape and the sea. Born in Dubai in 1951, Al Rais played a notable role in establishing the Emirates Fine Arts Society and is a member of Sharjah Art Foundation. He held his first solo exhibition in 1974.
The final book of the series documents the career of Mandi under the title Journey of a Pen, a Line, and a Sketch. Mandi is an artist and calligrapher at the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi.
He teaches Arabic calligraphy at Bait Al Khatt at the Cultural Foundationand writes about Arabic calligraphy in newspapers and magazines. Mandi has taken part in numerous local and international exhibitions, earning several licenses from prestigious calligraphy institutions.