Inspirations from Emirati Artist Shaima al Awadhi

 Ayesha Zulfiqar had a one-on-one conversation with Emirati artist Shaima al Awadhi who is known for her beautiful paintings and art. She is one of those born artists who inherit love for art, learn from the nearest family member and are able to dazzle the world with their creativity.

Tell us about yourself. How did you develop interest in art?

My father is one of the pioneer artists in the UAE. He is my greatest source of inspiration as I could always watch him work and learn from him. I started painting by the age of five; my passion grew in high school as I took on Art GCSE and AS, and continued on in the university. I studied art throughout my academic career and my talent grew as I did.

Who is your greatest inspiration in Art world and why?

My father is my greatest inspiration, role model and motivation in pursuing my passion in Art. Growing up, not only has he encouraged me to paint and explore different mediums, he would go the extra miles to make sure I can bring my ideas to life no matter what the challenges involved. His support has always been with me. He is my mentor.

What is the most prominent style in your work, what mediums do you use and what is their significance?

I prefer painting portraits. My interest in portraits of dancers is my recent development. I also consider calligraphy as an additional style in my latest art collections. I often combine dance with calligraphy to bring out the spiritual touch in my works. I believe dance and spirituality are connected. There is a bond between the soul and the body that grows stronger through movement and calligraphy. I enjoy using acrylic on canvas for this particular theme as it lets me bring out the beauty of calligraphy and dancing at one place.

What are major themes in your art? Why you have chosen those themes?

My latest major theme is dancing with words. I’ve been inspired by variety of dancers from ballet to flamenco dancers, and I’ve always admired the beauty of Arabic letters and poems. Therefore, I decided to combine these two in my art. I have created letters on dresses of ballet dancers. The blend of letters with the movements in dance as shown in my art allow me to blend in versatility in language of words and of the moving body of dancers. It is poetry for me.

Did your work engage with current events, local or global and how?

My art is poetic. It shows the beauty of life. It does not address any incidents so far in the local or global history. On another note, I would admit that I participate in exhibitions as an artist and builds social connectivity around my works. I’ve been participating in various art exhibition but my prominent one is World Art Dubai. Other exhibitions include Alliance Francais, Sheikha Manal Young Artist Award, as well as exhibitions in France.

Where did you get your imagery from (what, if any, sources did you use)?

The movements and poses of popular dancers make most of the imagery in my latest collection. I look at various imagery of dance moves, techniques and then I start sketching the moves that strike my imagination. I connect relevant letters with the moves to create synergy. It is very creative and comes purely from my imagination. I sometimes start off sketching my idea on Adobe Photoshop and then putting the idea into work on my canvas.

“All art is social”, usually art is said to have social impact as it aims to reflect reality in a different way. How far is your art social, if at all?

Art is a form of communication, with the artist telling a story, a mystery or a tale through his or her work, just like a director does in his movie productions. If it wasn’t, we would not have galleries hosted where we bring people together and be part of the artists tales as we are when we go to the movie theatre or a play. My work is essentially social as it reflects the beauty of life and brings people together to appreciate life. My art leaves it to the people to bring stories forward from what they see.

Was commercial art an influence on your work or the way in which it was made?

I enjoy looking at commercial art. However, my art, so far is not for commercial purposes. It may inspire me for my professional work in communications field. Commercial art sells ideas, on the other hand, traditional or contemporary art tells stories. I like the latter and work on it.

Where has your art been exhibited? Share some exciting moments from your exhibitions?

My most recent exhibition, in collaboration with Dubai culture, celebrated UAE’s jubilee year where myself and my father were exhibiting alongside 48 other esteemed artists. It was such an honor for me, not only to be part of that exhibition with top tier artists, but to also exhibit alongside my favorite artist and dear father.

What awards and accolades have you achieved?

I received an award for GCEO top 5 students in the world back in 2008.

Where do you see yourself as an artist in next 5 years?

I am looking forward to have more solo exhibitions around the world. It will involve travel but it is worth it as I will be show casing my works in different parts of the world. It will be exposure for me as obviously it will strike my imagination and generate new ideas as well.

Looking back at your past work, what do you think about it now?

I see great progress in my work and my storytelling, and I enjoy every moment of growth. I am a consistent learner and there is more to come.

What is one message you would like to give to our readers?

I would tell young artists out there to follow their ideas from start to finish and not let the noises (people opinions, public perception, art teachers and other means of influence) distract them from finishing their pieces. You are the author behind your story and your life, so don’t let others dictate your story to you and take charge of your brush and pen.

How should our readers contact you?

I am active on Instagram on @Shaima_E alongside my LinkedIn channel on Shaima Al Awadhi.