Emirati artist Shaikha Al Mazrou is not a sculptor, she says. “I currently work with sculpture but I don’t like to identify myself as a sculptor. I’m an artist that works with different mediums that is based on a specific show or concept. So technically sometimes the concept drives the material.”
Her work is part of a group show that includes works by Abdul Qader Al Rais, Hassan Sharif, Hussain Sharif, and Musab Al Rais. The ‘Concepts and The Divine Abstract’, hosted at DIFC during Art Dubai, runs until April 8.
For this period, she says, she worked on exhausting the material that she’d been experimenting with for a previous show; metal. “The concept is about sculptural language and how to create an illusion using specific materials that appear to be something but is actually made out of something else. For example, for what I’ve done with Art Dubai is I’ve worked with metal sculptures that appear to be paper-like, with pushing the material to behave differently, forcing it to act differently,” she says.
“I had done this earlier, but I wanted to push the material further, exhaust the material. It’s controlled work but it’s also I have to listen to the material so there’s control but also [an element] of a lack of control,” she adds.
During the past year, says Al Mazrou, she’s had time to think deeply. “For me, the pandemic didn’t really affect me as an artist. As an artist anything can be inspiration. For a creative soul you don’t require a circumstance to be creative. For some, they have used the time sitting at home to produce, to think differently, to spend time reading, to develop their practice. For me, at least, that’s what the pandemic has given us. It gave us the time to reflect.”
It’s also something she calls on other young artists to do: introspect. “Stay a student of life and stay away from labels. Stay hungry and keep reading and researching and reflecting,” she says.
Al Mazrou says the art scene in the UAE has grown, not least because of all the galleries and art fairs in town. “For me, it’s not just about the galleries and art fairs, it’s also about educational system that has been a major force behind understanding art. Without this dedication and universities, we don’t expect people would simply understand these spheres,” she says.
Creating that dialogue between an artwork and its observer then becomes easier when one knows what to look for. For now, it’s an artwork made of something that looks and behaves like something else entirely.