Sheikh Zayed's birth anniversary: Expat pays tribute with record-breaking artwork

In 2020, the 61.49-sqm portrait of the UAE's Founding Father was recognised as the largest professional oil painting by a single artist


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Fri 6 May 2022, 1:54 PM

Last updated: Fri 6 May 2022, 9:34 PM

Like any expatriate who first arrives in the UAE, Sarans K.K. from Kerala, too, was fascinated by the rich history, traditions and modern lifestyle of this multicultural country.

The more he travelled across the emirates, the 30-year-old was wowed and inspired by the UAE’s visionary leadership. And since 2018, he has drawn several paintings, mainly portraits of the UAE rulers. Two of his paintings have entered the Guinness World Records.

On Friday, marking the 104th birth anniversary of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, he unveiled a massive portrait of the UAE’s Founding Father. In 2020, the 61.49-sqm piece made it to the record books as the then ‘largest professional oil painting by a single artist’. However, with Covid-19 situation, he held back on a public display of the artwork.

“In 2018, I first came here as a visitor. I travelled to different emirates. I learnt about the diverse culture, Bedouin life, the unification of seven emirates, from pearl diving to finding oil and how the country got transformed into a stable and safe nation with more than 200 nationalities, including millions from India and a majority from my home state of Kerala," he told Khaleej Times while releasing first photos of the portrait.

"All this was realised under the remarkable leadership of Sheikh Zayed. His legacy will always be alive in the hearts and minds of generations. So, once I returned home to Kerala, I decided to make his portrait as my humble tribute."

When the 28.58 X 23.16 feet artwork made it to the Guinness World Records, Sarans couldn't exhibit the portrait in the UAE due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. But he says he is proud to have unveiled it during Sheikh Zayed's 104th birth aniversary.

"I hope this painting can be installed safely in an appropriate place with the support of local authorities,” he said. Watch Sarans paint the portrait below:

Based in Abu Dhabi, Sarans is trying to exhibit the portrait, along with other works, here and in Dubai. All these artworks have been carefully kept at his place. Recently, he has also made a large canvas painting tracking the UAE’s journey of the past years and glorious achievements.

Last year, he broke into the record books again with a 166-sqm portrait of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

Currently, the latest portrait of three leaders holds the world record under the title of ‘largest professional oil painting by a single artist’.

During the Indian Republic Day cultural event held at the India Social and Cultural Centre, Sunjay Sudhir, Indian Ambassador to UAE, and Yusuffali M.A., ISC chairman and Lulu Group’s chairman and managing director, had presented a memento of appreciation to Sarans.

Back in Kerala, he had worked as an art teacher for 14 years and made several large-scale projects, including mural painting of Hindu deity Krishna, among others.

“I used to run my own art academy in Kerala. I had to shut it down because making such paintings is expensive work and I faced financial constraints. I wish to open an art academy here. I am open for collaborations with like-minded individuals and entities. I am also hoping to get the UAE’s coveted Golden Visa,” he added.


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