Sublime synthesis: Art and architecture synergise in Lina Al Dabbagh’s practice - GulfToday

Sublime synthesis: Art and architecture synergise in Lina Al Dabbagh’s practice

Two flowers rest in their leafy bed.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Lina Al Dabbagh is a recent Architectural Engineering graduate from the University of Sharjah (2022). Originally from Iraq and currently pursuing junior interior designer roles, she has always been interested in art, architecture, interior design and photography. She did an art course at Sharjah Art Foundation, learning about the basics of drawing, including perspective drawing and still life.

She was also introduced to water colours. “Things with purpose and spirit, Nature, specific people, and emotional states I experience every day, always inspire me to dream, vision and create,” she says. “I am best when I am holding a brush, hugged by colours, embraced by the canvas and listening to the lyrics of music I like.”

Painting returns her to her inner self. She paints whenever the mood strikes her, because for her, art should be spontaneous and genuine.

But there’s always a room for exploration; she is keen and open for new challenges, adventures and searches for a new story to narrate. She basically uses acrylic with a touch of gold leaf and sometimes uses oil pastels also.

Her palette knife makes her art more free and spontaneous, resulting in some areas of the canvas being high textured and sometimes soft in character.

 Birds and flowers are two of Lina Al Dabbagh’s favourite subjects.

A winner of the first place award in designing the main building for Sharjah Oasis for Technology and Innovation (SOTI, 2021), she was also shortlisted for the Haptic material museum design challenge in Barcelona, Spain (2021). Lina Al Dabbagh speaks to Gulf Today

What is the link between architectural engineering and fine art?

A creative mind, a heightened sense of visual aesthetics, the ability to evoke emotions and engage in human communication, is what makes architecture and fine art bond together. The spark that first led to the creation and then to the execution of an idea, is a vital component of both architecture and fine art.

How does interior design help you as artist?

Artwork can enhance interior space, change the room dynamic and add more soul and value to space. Interior design provides me with the knowledge of how to work with colours, materials and textures. I have come to understand colour energy, hues, tones and their contrasts, the colours that work together and how they mix and match.

 A floral composition by Lina Al Dabbagh.

Developing a mood board, colour palette and feeling the texture of materials, inspires me to create and visualise an artwork. Another aspect to learn is understanding a project type, its environment and nature, whether it is a commercial or residential project.

With this knowledge, I am more aware of which piece of artwork fits which project. Everything — art, interior, architecture — in one way or another, is connected. And this is the ultimate beauty of our field!

Are you an outdoors or indoors person?

I find inspiration by surrendering myself to the beauty around me and listening to my soul. I prefer to stay in my zone, most of the times. Yet sometimes I find myself attracted and curious to get to know certain individuals.

 Lina Al Dabbagh at an exhibition.

And this is the fun part! As a person, I am socially selective, and not really an outdoors person. Few people feed my art and add another layer to it. I rarely sense colour energy from them. But those that do are somehow part of my artworks. However, I also have a keen eye for visual aesthetics I find in magazines, books and movies.

What are the qualities you look for in your subjects as an artist?

Art should be spontaneous, genuine and emerge from deep within. It’s visual poetry indeed! Rather than constantly trying to understand it, it is better to feel it. Authenticity, spontaneity and striving to capture the sensations of a scene, is what really matters when I create and paint. For example, my current interest is flowers. For me flowers are magical, sentimental, delicate, yet very powerful.

There’s always a hidden layer I want to capture and create about them. But for me, composing the actual shape of a flower doesn’t matter; what really matters is capturing the feeling of a flower and provoking a certain emotion.

 A flowery duo erupts on the canvas.

It could be a happy emotion, an intimate one, something that arouses anger, or a flash back in memory to something experienced or felt before by a viewer. Authenticity means being vulnerable also. It’s you, standing there, baring yourself.

I know it is funny and complex at the same time! I stroke and splash colours based on what I feel genuinely. If I feel that an area needs red, I just splash the colour red! I take it freely and there are no rules here for me. The canvas is indeed my playground!

Who are the models you look up to as an art maker?

I find myself attracted to Claude Monet’s artworks. Soft realities, poetic beauty, dream sequences, and serene scenes in them make me feel they are from another world. I can keep contemplating them for hours. Arts and artists of the Arab world also really captivate me. They are rooted in their culture and homeland.

 A flower blooms in an artwork.

For example, when you look at the works of Suliman Mansour, an iconic artist from beloved Palestine, you really find nostalgia and depth. His artworks imitate real life struggles and issues, while retaining a great deal of beauty and hope. I also think the art of Suad Al Attar, one of Iraq’s most renowned contemporary artists, is imaginative with a lot of sentimental beauty in it.


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