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Taking UAEism in
Art to Burj Dubai

Silvia Radan / 1 July 2009

ABU DHABI — Wasel Safwan is one of the most talked about artists in the UAE and his fame has led him to a contract with an art gallery in Dubai.

The management of the tallest building in the world, which has currently reached 818 metres, is inviting prestigious artists from all parts of the world to “decorate” each floor of the structures with thematic artworks.

“I was in Europe when I first received a phone call from Burj Dubai representatives. They heard about my work and wanted to talk to me about doing some paintings for the building,” Wasel told Khaleej Times.

On return to Al Ain, his home town, he set up a meeting, which took place in May  2009.

“They wanted to see samples of my work and said that if they like it, I would be given floor 84 to paint.”

The Burj Dubai management gave the samples a big “wow” and Wasel the green light.

Wasel Safwan Antepli was born on full moon of Ramadan in 1979, as he likes to point out, and grew up, studied and lives in Al Ain.

Since school days he tried his hand at figurative painting, but Wasel’s style took shape after his university studies in architecture, which greatly influenced his work.

“I started using broken lines, geometrical shapes and sharp contrasting compositions, which I merged with my earlier figurative painting,”explained Wasel.

UAEism is what he calls his new found style and the first such work in a series of abstract compositions, using the colours and the light qualities of the Gulf, was done in 2005.

“I did four paintings for Burj Dubai, all in UAEism style and all following a pattern,” said Wasel.

“The hardest one was the painting which had to contain the number 84 in both Arabic and English because of the shapes of the numbers. Eight in English has two circles, while in Arabic has two straight lines and four is all lines in English, but half circles in Arabic. It took me a lot of thinking to come up with a good composition,” explained Wasel.

He took nearly a month to mentally create his four acrylics and only three long days to paint them.

“I  had to study the design of  the floor, the colours used, so they would not clash with the colours or shapes of my paintings. Creating artworks for one of the most iconic buildings in the world it is not something that comes about easily.  Burj Dubai is the highest level I have ever reached with mywork,” said Wasel.

The paintings, which he finished last week, are now waiting to be displayed in Burj Dubai.


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