International and local Emirati artists are painting, photographing and sculpting their way into the global art industry, with the help of the International Emerging Artist Award
A young man wades out into the sea, his kandura catching in his wake. Following in the path he carves through the water, and climbing up his back, are large Arabic letters. The resulting photo portrays an ancient language clinging to modernity, and is the work of the artist Dr Hamad Al Falasi – one of last year's winners of an award that uses Dubai as a launchpad for careers in the art world.
The International Emerging Artist Award, based in Dubai, allows paint, pencil, camera, video, bronze and any form you can think of in its search for the freshest and most innovative art from around the world, with the top prize now including two years representation with a Madrid gallery.
Dr Hamad Al Falasi, last year's Emirati winner, said that the award has opened up diverse channels for him, and helped with the maturity of his art.
“IEAA has exhibited my artwork internationally on prestigious platforms, given me various opportunities to promote my artworks, helped to establish me as a name in the local and international art scene, and expanded my networking channels with other artists and galleries.”
He added that his winning series of photographs echoed his interest in a rich Arab linguistic culture, and the insertion of the English language into the new Arabic generation.
“During my studies of our common dialect I have noticed the effect of the English culture on the current generation, who omit their original mother tongue language and substitute that with English language. Common old words used by our ancestors have become totally strange to them. It drove me to delve deep in the local colloquialisms and preserve their existence.”
Rebia Naim, Director of the awards, said that the competition was born with the vision to provide its winners a prize that would develop the career of the artist in the long run – rather than just offering a cash prize and one-off exposure.
Emerging artists are the DNA of contemporary art – it is very exciting to work at the source and witness the genesis of an artist whose work would be sold at auctions houses or presented at international fair and museums in few years
“Emerging artists are the DNA of contemporary art – it is very exciting to work at the source and witness the genesis of an artist whose work would be sold at auctions houses or presented at international fair and museums in few years. The award contributes to such growth as it became an important career recognition for building the credibility and reputation of an emerging artist on the international art scene.”
Naim points to Julie de Waroquier as an example of how the award can inspire a young artist – she was only 20 years old when she won the 1st edition of IEAA with her series Chimeras, unveiled for the first time in Dubai.
“Julie made a contemporary and artistic interpretation of a common theme of life, twins. In her work, she managed to represent this surprising reality and showed the spectator how her imagination transcends it in a kind of symbolical dream that would glimpses from our subconscious. Since then she has showcased her work in international art fairs, festivals and group shows and recently published a book called “Dreamalities” and produced a movie.”
There are two awards available: the International Emerging Artist Award (open for both Emirati and international participants), and Emerging Emirati Artist Award, an award category dedicated to Emirati artists. Naim says that seeing the Emirati winners shine both locally and on the international art scene has allowed Emirati candidates that were unsure about their artistic potential to realize that they could be winning the award as well.
“I was wondering why more Emirati wouldn’t take this opportunity and apply to the IEAA, but had the answer at a seminar when a group of Emirati students confessed they were scared to fail and what the jury panel would think of their work. My answer was there is no such thing of bad or good application. It’s all about the candidate’s ability to defend a concept and submit a coherent body of work. Aesthetic plays a secondary role.”