Friday - - EDITOR’S LETTER -

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

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