LET’S GIVE ART A FIGHTING CHANCE
War heroes make it to history books. Their valour and victories eloquently eulogised for generations to come. Artists, on the other hand, fight for space on the crowded walls of a museum. While their skill and talent is much appreciated by connoisseurs, their context is lost in translation. Their stories, or should I say their work, relegated to the hinterland of our fickle minds.
Abdulqader Al Rais (on page 24) clearly does not want to be that artist. For more than 50 years, the UAE’s biggest export to the global art scene has strived to be that voice that tells the story of the people, of the time and of the region – sometimes empathetic in the loss and pain of his muse; at other times, joyous in their celebration. Abdulqader’s works of art are not utopian in nature or even a fantastical escape from what’s going on, but a mirror, instead – reflective of the time.
Probably that is the reason why his masterpieces are considered to be more than just a strong statement – they are a start of a dialogue. Always polemical.
As author Rachel Kushner, one of the finalists for 2018’s Man Booker Prize, says on page 58, ‘Art must be made with a
Artists fight for space on the crowded walls of a museum. While their talent is much appreciated, their context is lost in translation
commitment to genuine risk. The thing created must be smarter than the person who made it.’
That’s the legacy Abdulqader is creating, and probably we need to follow suit.
Mrinal Shekar, Editor Reachmeatmshekar@gulfnews.com or@mrinalshekaronInstagram