This Dubai-based photographer's portraits celebrate individuality

Marta Lamovsek’s portrait chair welcomes everyone. In her universe, everyone, no matter their social status or their skin tone or nationality, is seen as a majestic being

Photographs in Lamovsek’s Sacred Queen series
Photographs in Lamovsek’s Sacred Queen series

Purva Grover

Published: Thu 16 Jun 2022, 6:44 PM

Marta Lamovsek moved to Dubai from London in 2013. A photographer and visual artist, she skillfully materialises an individual’s beauty and strength. By empowering and bringing out the best version of her subjects on camera, Marta hopes to bring out the best in the world and celebrate individuality. Her larger-than-life portraits are on display at Hyde Hotel Dubai, Business Bay. Behind each portrait is an inspiring story of spontaneous encounters, of a moment when one sees a person, or something, that stirs our souls and lifts our spirits.

Marta celebrates her subject’s social and cultural background and makes a statement on equality and social mobility. In her universe, everyone is not only equal, but everyone’s unique spirit is royalty. She insists that in the times we live in, segregation between humans and nature is the main challenge to our consciousness. “I am working towards raising the vibration, I will not stop pouring my idealism of the world onto our existence with my art,” says the 40-something Slovenian.

Photographs in Lamovsek’s Sacred Queen series
Photographs in Lamovsek’s Sacred Queen series

Edited excerpts from an interview:

Where did your early inspiration come from?

I grew up in Yugoslavia as a child of the forest, with a cat on my lap and the only reference to visual art came from watching movies and MTV. I was always drawn to people’s characters, and wanted to explore who we are as humanity.

Throw light on your work as a visual artist.

My most recognisable language in portraits is one that depicts the regal power of men and women and is distinctly shot in front of colourful textile backgrounds. I came to be known for a unique style of character-driven portraiture that offers a spectacular riot of exuberance and maximalism, achieved through the use of bold fabrics, loud jewellery and quirky trinkets sourced in Dubai’s old-world bazaars. My extensive travels across the globe are uniquely displayed through my portraits, where I capture a diversity of cultures.

Describe your experience of working as an artist in the UAE.

Living as a fulltime artist is not for the faint-hearted. In the UAE, my number one challenge was to educate the mainstream audience about the value of a unique point of view in photography, about the difference it makes with who does the photograph and most importantly, why he or she is doing it in the first place.

What’s the one important tip you have for anyone hoping to pursue a career in photography?

If you asked me this question 10 years ago, I’d say work hard, photograph what you love. Today, I’d say work hard, think very deeply about who you are, what kind of values you want to imprint on the world, explore what you don’t understand but wish to and focus on how you can make a difference. Then, work 10 times harder than everyone else!

What’s your view on NFTs?

I think it’s a fascinating, vast world and I am taking time in doing my homework down the rabbit hole. I will continue as I am until I am ready to present my first collection to the “metaverse”.

What kept you going during the pandemic?

When times got tough, I realised that the only thing I need to do is not stop creating. It has become even clearer that being an artist is who I was always meant to be. It’s my life’s purpose. The world does not necessarily need every single person to do art but if you are expressing your inner world through creativity, it’s the most important gift to the world you can ever give.

Did you study photography?

At 22, I came across a beautiful photograph framed on the wall, which triggered something inside me. I had a camera a week after that and was self-taught before I undertook photography as a professional path. Later on, I went on to do a postgraduate photography course at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design London.

What does a day in the life of Marta look like?

I live by the beach in Umm Suqeim 2, so my ideal day would start with a swim, meditation, breakfast in the garden and then checking in with my clients and doing sessions. I love to collect trinkets and beautiful fabrics, accessories and things that belong to different cultures. Sometimes you will see me in Global Village having the best time. I have my art studio in the same place as I live, so my subjects and clients come to me, which makes my life more relaxed. If I’ve learned anything during the pandemic, it is that I love to create in my creative universe, unrestricted by time and social surroundings.

Tell us about your new projects.

I am working on my solo show called I am A Woman: Sovereign by Nature and my installation Sacred Queendom. My mission is to undertake a “world tour” where I will be empowering humanity with the spirit of my portraits. After London, I want to manifest the exhibitions in Barcelona, Ibiza and Paris. Meanwhile, in my Dubai studio, I will start on a new multimedia project that will have the essence of my old work but will embrace some other non-explored art forms and media.

What is your thought process when it comes to empowering a subject on camera?

I want to open the doors to my subjects’ higher power. During the creative process, I connect with my subjects on a deep level and use the ornaments and embroidered fabrics to empower them. When I am making a portrait, something in me wants to meet their unseen majestic self.

How are you blending arts and social mobility and equality?

Expansion of the cultural horizon is key for me. I come from a country that has undertaken a lot of different occupations over the course of history, and I had always seen myself as a citizen of the world that belongs everywhere. I feel my soul wants us to evolve. Thus my portrait chair welcomes everyone. I learn from everyone. I had the privilege to capture the souls of gardeners, truck drivers, architects, soprano singers, maids, pilots and members of the royal family. Everyone, no matter their social status, skin tone or nationality is seen as a majestic being. We humans must overcome the rising segregation, connect more with people from different cultural landscapes to understand each other, learn from each other, respect Mother Earth and understand that: We. Are. All. One.

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