Dubai-based artist Marwan Shakarchi’s cloud is all about the silver lining
Marwan Shakarchi has his head in the clouds. The symbol that he has been using to represent his practice – a cartoon-like image of a fluffy cloud with “x” marks for eyes – has become synonymous with the artist himself.
Shakarchi is now on a mission to popularise the symbol – it features on stickers that he hands out to friends and acquaintances – it’s also on postcards and key rings – and whenever he visits a new place, he looks for a surface to paint his cloud.
Shakarchi says he felt the need to develop his art through a single symbol, especially in this image-saturated world that we live in.
“I am interested in what you can achieve with a symbol by repetition,” says the artist. “I think it is important that you look at your environment in an objective way instead of just accepting it – my cloud inspires you to question that. It is not directly selling you anything, it is not formally part of any system – it just exists to exist.”
Born and raised in London to Iraqi parents, Shakarchi moved to Dubai a year ago to pursue his artistic career. He had already developed his cloud symbol, which began as a doodle on a wall in his family home and was later fine-tuned when he spent a summer in Los Angeles as an intern in the studio of Shepard Fairey, the American graphic artist best known for creating Barack Obama’s Hope poster for his 2008 election campaign.
Besides the cloud, Shakarchi is also identified by his moniker Myneandyours.
“I like how difficult it sounds when I introduce myself – it makes people think,” he says. “The name started off just as Myne, because it was a personal project, something I was doing for my own release. I was creating the work for myself and it was a way to vent.
“But afterwards it became about my audience, so ‘yours’ is a message to them.”
Shakarchi hopes people see the cloud as a symbol of hope and as encouragement to reach for their dreams.
“I think people should be concentrating on making the most of living in the moment,” he says. “The name and the cloud are supposed to help people find empowerment.”
Before Shakarchi moved to Dubai, he was working for the family business in London. Since he arrived, he has dedicated himself solely to his art, taking a studio in Tashkeel and slowly moving his practice past the simple symbology of tagging the cloud and giving it a firmer conceptual base.
He is now working on a series of paintings that feature a female character interacting with the cloud. The cloud represents him, while the girl represents his wife Reem.
“Each painting is about the girl and her relationship with the cloud,” says Shakarchi. “Every girl that I paint is Reem. It is a comic that tells the story of our relationship panel by panel. I want my work to have more purpose, not just random paintings of clouds.”
It is this series that has attracted the attention of discerning audiences. It Will Be OK, an image of a girl hugging the cloud, appeared in Tashkeel’s group exhibition over the summer.
• Visit www.myneandyours.com for more information
Published: December 21, 2014 04:00 AM