The desert plays a major role in the artwork.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
Mid-Feb. saw the art exhibition of Petra von Lutterotti, titled We Left The Desert Behind at Intersect by Lexus, DIFC, Dubai.
Petra is familiar with the desert – and much of the landscapes of the Middle East and the rest of the world – since she has lived and worked in Berlin, New York, Paris and Rome before making Dubai her new home.
She was educated in dance in Berlin and New York and began her artistic career as a dancer. Later, she became a choreographer and music theatre director, working on stages throughout Germany.
When she felt she outgrew the stage, she decided to pursue another artistic talent - and studied both fashion and interior design. Since then, she had not put the pen out of her hands, in her current work as interior designer and painter.
In her collage-like pictures, Petra elevates fashion figurines with her own stylistic device and stages them in innovative and very idiosyncratic contexts. After exhibitions in Berlin and Rome, she now wants to conquer her new home Dubai, with her pictures.
She answers the questions of Gulf Today – she would not dream of leaving the newspaper behind, of course
What fascinates you about Middle Eastern women's clothes?
To me, Middle Eastern fashion is incredibly elegant. Wide trousers, long and wide sleeves or the traditional Abaya, the light fabric almost resembles wind and water as it playfully surrounds the women’s bodies.
What I admire most I guess, is how deeply rooted Middle Eastern tradition is in women’s fashion here. Fabrics and design are both meant to be practical and fashionable at the same time, protecting from sandstorms and the hot sun, for instance.
Today, you can still see similar shapes and equally light fabric; however, it is mixed with modern fashion trends seen around the world, which influences especially the younger generation.
Are you aware about Modest Fashion trends?
Yes, indeed. I am aware of modest fashion trends and I must say, learning about it and seeing all these great designers here in the Middle East, even influenced how I dress. I like the style and the way I can play with it. I also think it has a lot of elegance and really emphasises women’s strength.
Your pictures are full of fun and mischief. Why?
I’ll leave that to the spectator’s eye, and for sure everyone sees different things when looking at art, but I can confirm when I paint, I do so with a twinkle in my eye.
How did you study the desert landscape, which forms a good part of your work?
Before moving to the UAE two years ago, I’ve been visiting friends and family here for a long time. I have also visited other parts of the region, like Jordan and Egypt, and have seen different aspects of the desert everywhere I went. It gave me a good understanding how diverse it can actually be and I try to reflect that in my paintings too.
You can draw people relaxing in the workplace or catwalking in the desert. How do you develop your situations?
The figurine is my stylistic device. I have developed the figurine during my fashion design study and have sketched plenty of them wearing my different designs.
I soon realised that the figurine can be much more powerful when setting it in different contexts. These scenarios that I create are meant to tell stories of society and our world, the stories that I want to tell based on experience and observations; hereby the figurine resembles the protagonist of that story.
Your colour choice is outrageous. Green sky is an example. How do colours help you make your artistic statement?
I believe that strong colours have much more impact when telling stories through art and convey a more powerful message. While it is up to the spectator’s interpretation, I do choose these colours to provoke, both the eye and the mind.
You use glitter in some of your pictures. Why? Is it to give an Eastern touch?
I love to play with different materials from canvas over plywood and MDF boards, acrylic paint combined with fabric, papers, leaves, ribbon as well as natural resources like feathers, metal or sand.
It helps me to elevate my creativity and create my artificial picture staging. My latest series We Left The Desert Behind was inspired by what I have seen here in the Middle East, and yes, the golden sprinkles are part of that.
How can art and fashion bridge cultures?
Art and fashion, an art in itself, plays a key role in bridging cultures and in fact it is extremely important as it so often helps to hold traditions alive, while at the same time educating audiences about certain values and beliefs.
Art is the medium through which artists express their deepest thoughts and wishes, and can be used as a means to express ones cultural belongings and enter a cultural dialogue with his or her audience, as it already happens so often.
I hope that going forward, Art will play an even stronger role in bringing people together, helping them to understand each other better while driving a culture of understanding and respect.
What was the best compliment you received in the East? In the West?
People have told me that I am authentic and I am convinced that I am and so is my art. At least this is what I want to reflect and it makes me very happy that people can see that. I have received this compliment both in East and West.
Haafiza Sayed is also a trained interior designer and has worked extensively in this field in the early days of her career.
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