Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 1 November 2020

Graffiti artists brighten up Al Quoz

The Al Quoz Beautification Project will have its first public event at the end of Januray when street 4B will be closed off to allow artists to paint.
Street artist Sya One at his graffiti wall in his garden. Satish Kumar / The National
Street artist Sya One at his graffiti wall in his garden. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // A road will be closed off and the country’s most popular graffiti and street artists will paint live as part of a project to beautify the industrial area of Al Quoz.

The Al Quoz Beautification Project will host its first public event on January 24, when the whole of Street 4B will be closed off from 6pm to midnight.

The organisers are aiming to have 30 artists spray their works on temporary three-by-three metre boards along the street, which will act as an open-air, dynamic gallery for the evening.

It is part of a continuing project to promote street art and persuade authorities to open up a public wall where graffiti artists can paint freely.

“We want to appeal to people who don’t normally go to galleries and museums and get them interested in art through this,” said Maria Urrutia, the organiser of the project.

“We hope we can promote the cause of street art to the people and the authorities.”

The project hopes to one day persuade authorities to open up whole swaths of the industrial zone, including factories, labour camps and other buildings, for street artists to freely use as a canvas.

The area has an emerging art quarter but large portions are regarded as “aesthetically challenged”, with a lack of trees or greenery, paths, or even colours beyond the white-washed walls and sandy patches.

One of the graffiti artists taking part, Kevin Martin, 21, who is Filipino but has grown up in Dubai, said the area was in desperate need of a facelift.

“I’ve been to Al Quoz a few times and it’s quite dull,” he said. “Why not liven it up with some colourful street art? It would improve the look of the area.”

The graphic designer said he hoped the Street Night Art event would have a positive effect on people’s attitudes towards street art.

“Not a lot of people are aware of this art form, so this could be a good start,” he said. “It would be awesome to have more permanent street art.

“I’ve been here for so long and there’s never really any graffiti. I think Dubai needs more people like that who can do street art and graffiti. It would help the art scene in general.”

One of the more established names on the local art scene, Sya One, and his wife, Steffi Bow, will participate.

“I think it will be cool for people to see how it works, how the pieces are built and people do the painting,” said One, who is from the UK.

“It will have a good effect and enlighten people slightly. It would be good for people to know us better so they don’t think we’re all just vandals.”

He said Dubai needed a wall on which graffiti artists could practice their own styles. He said it was different from commissioned work, where companies contract artists to apply graffiti to their buildings, in that it was more liberating.

Until recently, One was using the garden walls of his family’s villa as a place to practice.


Updated: January 3, 2014 04:00 AM

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