Raisa Mariam Rajan’s art is a guide for attaining creative sustainability - GulfToday

Raisa Mariam Rajan’s art is a guide for attaining creative sustainability

Raisa Mariam 2

Composition in rope titled Engulfing Flame.

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

Raisa Mariam Rajan, the artist who hails from the land of coconuts, Kerala in India, smiles. “The hardness of the coconut shell hides the sweet juice inside it,” she says, perhaps pointing to herself. “I am a hard-headed businesswoman, with an artistic soul.” Her life has been a journey of self-exploration and realisation, which, not exaggerating, has made a mark in the field of art and sustainability in the UAE.

Her artistic endeavour began at a very young age, when as a little girl, she drew portraits of her loved ones in a small notebook. It was her parents who recognised her talent in drawing precise portraits, without any formal training in art. They decided to nourish her drawing skills and later, the love of art took Raisa to one of the most prestigious architectural colleges in India. It played a pivotal role in shaping her art and career alike.

Raisa’s experience in architecture has been instrumental in creating her masterpieces, which includes Tranquility, an artwork that is permanently displayed at ADNOC headquarters. Meanwhile, since she grew up in a business family and was expected to be the heir who would inherit the family business, she had to keep her passion aside and take up the responsibilities of a businesswoman.

But life had a different plan for her. Raisa’s life and art took a new turn when research in the creative field revealed a whole new world of sustainable possibilities in art. She travelled across the globe in search of new techniques and mediums that could create sustainable art, learning various techniques, both traditional and modern, in creating sustainable art products. Incorporating found materials, she created her first-ever sustainable art piece - it captured the attention of art lovers in the UAE.

Raisa Mariam 1  Dubai-based artist Raisa Mariam Rajan.

Sustainable art has become not just a passion, but a mission for this artist, who continually works to create innovative changes in the creative field. Raisa is one of the first artists in the UAE to raise awareness on renewable art practices; she has been part of many panel discussions at art exhibitions and live art shows – one of which took place at the Consulate General of India - Dubai, showcasing sustainable art.

She has attended art residency programmes in Montenegro and has exhibited her artworks in Azerbaijan. It marked the beginning of her artistic career as an advocate of sustainable art overseas. Raisa holds a Guinness World Record for ‘Most nationalities in an art lesson’, where she took a session on sustainable art for 65 nationalities. Her efforts to propagate sustainable art reached the Cannes Art Festival in 2023, after her artworks on the theme were exhibited in many international platforms, including Italy and Spain. She hosted her first solo art exhibition at COP 28 Blue Zone, in 2023. She also curated a group exhibition in COP 28, alongside the sustainable artworks of five international artists. She exhibited her artworks in the prestigious Etihad Art Gallery, this year.

Raisa’s paintings are rooted in nature and culture. She believes that the culture that springs from nature forms the core of aesthetics. She gives importance to the human mind and the experiences that shape thoughts and inspires actions. She talks volumes on the feminine self and the depths of her existence as a female person. The mysterious realities behind human existence, the psychological imperatives that govern human thoughts and the role of nature in igniting these thoughts, have been her concerns from the beginning of her art life. Reflection, an anthropometric work on womanhood and its varied experiences, received appreciation at the Cannes Art Festival 2023, due to its arrangements and symbolic significance.

She has created a series of artworks using rope as a medium, to celebrate the connection of the art, craft and culture of the UAE and its organic links with nature. This collection of artwork, like her earlier work, is also connected to the five elements and naturally formed wonders in nature such as stalagmites, the root bridge in Meghalaya, India and Al Ula, KSA. She focusses on the immense power carried by elements such as oceanic waves, glaciers and wildfires. Raisa’s experience in architecture has been helpful in the artistic creation of complex structures which are not only representations, but also narrate aesthetically pleasing tales of their historic and cultural significance.

She firmly believes in the power of touch and gives importance not only to visual beauty, but also somatosensory perceptions of a work of art. For example, she enriches ideas with sustainable art materials she makes by herself: the textures she creates helps one to feel her concepts, even if he or she is visually impaired. Art, according to Raisa, is a feeling that should rise from one’s senses, permeate the mind and cleanse the soul. She continues her journey as an architect, entrepreneur and artist, with a strong conviction to change the art world and prevent art practices that are harmful for the environment. Hers is a constant research for creating sustainable materials that can replace toxic chemicals in art; she has been successful in creating textures and colours from natural substances. Being one of the first proponents of sustainable art in the UAE, she confidently presents her artworks to the world with the conviction that her method will be the face of art in future.

Related articles