Mahra Al Falahi's Wonder Brush paints wonders.
Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer
This summer, City Walk, the design-inspired open-air lifestyle destination by Meraas, has transformed into a giant canvas (July 31 — Aug. 31). Visitors can experience a great journey across contemporary art, featuring international 3D artist Juandres Vera and local art makers such as Emirati artist Mahra Al Falahi, as part of an immersive art exhibition.
The theme of the indoor exhibition, a collaboration between Dubai Canvas and Brand Dubai, is Travelling Through Art. Given that most travel plans for the summer have been postponed, guests can get their fill of inspiration and out-of-the-world wonder at the art festival, as they celebrate contemporary art.
Mahra Al Falahi speaks to Gulf Today about her work.
Can you give some details about the artworks you have exhibited at Dubai Canvas 2020?
I have exhibited two works; the first is A paper plane: A 3D plane that would fly you through imagination from Dubai to anywhere your mind can dream of. It might be hard to travel now, but imagine if you could take a paper and write down all the places in the world that you wish to see and just like that, hop on your paper plane and fly away.
Where will your imagination take you? What other stamps will you add to your plane?
The wonder brush: A 3D brush with wings that flies across the skies, painting wonders. The artist’s paint brush travels across the world, painting clouds through a sunrise, through sunset, waves to the seas and presents shadows to the deserts. Close your eyes let the wonder brush take you to the most wonderful places!
What place does imagination have in your art?
Most of my work focuses on imagination and the idea of having the freedom to express one’s creativity. Imaginations offer an escape from reality when one needs to; it shows you the possibilities of how wild your mind could go.
What makes Dubai City Walk’s indoor space uniquely suited for an art exhibition?
Dubai City Walk is a place which many families choose as a place of entertainment. The indoor space offers them a getaway from the summer heat and helps the audience enjoy the artworks more, as they stand freely and take as many pictures as they like.
The building offers many interesting lighting arrangements, from morning to nighttime. The changes of the shade and light affects each of the works differently.
Travelling Through Art is the second time you have exhibited with Dubai Canvas. How different is the 2020 edition from the earlier one in 2018?
My first exhibition with Dubai Canvas in 2018 was at the end of March when the weather was much cooler and it was a season of rains back then. The event took place outdoors in La Mer, the number of artists that took part was much more than this year.
However, this year, in my opinion, was a very unique experience as we the artists got to know each other much better. We also got to learn and exchange ideas which helped us all in our artworks.
Some of us also got the chance to collaborate with each other, which added to the uniqueness of this year’s edition. I’m always grateful to take part in such events.
What is attractive about Street Art?
Street Art is an exhibition open to all: it’s a way for people to get introduced to art in a fun and unexpected way. Many people work all day and don’t have the time to go to an art show or a museum to enjoy art. Street Art brings art to them.
According to you, what is the connection between travel and art?
Art allows you to travel with your thoughts and your imagination. It could also be an illusion that makes it seem as if you’re flying or travelling.Is art an escape from life or an inspiration to link with life, or both?
It could be both. In many ways, art gives us hope and inspiration. In some ways, it can help us escape an unwanted reality. Other times, it can be a way of overcoming difficulties and healing.
You have said “art speaks to all”. What is the message of your art?
In many ways my art focuses on imagination, memories and the stage of childhood. I use my art to create a place of wonder in viewers’ minds, giving them back the freedom of imagination and imparting the playful and wild spirits of children - something many of us lose while growing up.
Who are your role models in the world of art? What do you appreciate in their work?
I have looked up to many artists through my career, but one that I would repeatedly go back and research more about is the surrealist René Magritte. His work is known for challenging an observer’s preconditioned perceptions of reality and that’s what interest me in his work.
Have you had formal training in art?
I have graduated with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from the College of Fine Arts and Design, University of Sharjah, where I studied art for four years. I’ve been practicing arts ever since.
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