Painting creativity with inspiration

HER TOOL of trade is a paintbrush; his, a camera. Inspired by the world around them, this husband and wife art duo seem to find the most fulfilling inspiration in each other.

By Mohamad Kadry (Staff Reporter)

Published: Tue 17 Jun 2008, 4:15 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 3:18 PM

A chance meeting in Hong Kong would solidify their marriage, and what followed was a love affair with the Middle East that has yet to diminish.

Ekke and Jarenporn Betsch, otherwise known as JP to her hundreds of students and colleagues, have been living in the Arab world for the greater part of the last two decades. Together they have seen first hand the transformation that the Gulf has experienced, and with it an affinity for art and culture.

Together, Ekke and JP have helped capture brilliant images on film and canvas showcasing the deep rich history of Islamic architecture and culture. Ekke, who maintains that his photographs are just a hobby, sees his art as a celebration of the moment. The German native travelled the world at a young age, and found inspiration in the colours and sounds of the international landscape. “Sometimes it’s like painting, because it’s really not that dissimilar.

Photography has the advantage because it’s instant and very quick,” he says. Finding Dubai a picturesque haven for both heritage and modernity, Ekke has seen the damages that losing culture can have on a society, and finds solace in government initiatives set up to protect the past while maintaining progress. “I think that the government really takes care of the heritage today. I think it disappeared 20 years ago much more than it does today. I wouldn’t be concerned that it will disappear because the government is very much concerned about maintaining their heritage,” he adds.

While Ekke’s photography captures the reality of the world, his wife JP captures the brilliance of her imagination through an unfiltered lens. Truly a free sprit at heart, JP has used her paint strokes to teach children the art of true expression. With hundreds of students from the very young to the very mature, JP exudes spirituality that leaps off each colourful canvas.

“I really think that teaching art to children has been the best thing to happen to me,” she says. The Thai artist of Chinese origin has spent most of her life surrounded by art, crediting her talents to the influence of her father, teachers and husband. Encompassing spontaneity and sensitivity in her brush strokes, the resultant canvas is nothing short of inspiring. Truly unique is her technique of mater marking, which leaves stained impressions of brilliantly soft colours to her backdrops and focus. One of the pioneers of Dubai’s art movement, JP has helped propel the field across the region from her days in Saudi Arabia to her current UAE address.

“Dubai has moved back to supporting more traditional Arabic art. I think we see much more focus on Arab culture than we used to see,” she recalls as a resident for more than seven years. On her life in Saudi Arabia, JP and Ekke both found it to be extremely thrilling and gratifying. “The environment in Jeddah was very stimulating,” she says as she recalls her past travels to the kingdom. “It was a very close knit society where everybody knew each other. It’s a very close community because everybody needs each other I believe. The pace of life is very different, and I feel like I was more intensively creative,” she adds with her husband by her side.

The duo truly encompass passion and a great love for the Arab world. But at the core, theirs is a deeper love they have found in each other, using their art to express what really needs no verbal explanation. As they share inside jokes in a bustling gallery, the two briefly look at each other surrounded by their work, and simply smile.


WHAT: Ekke and JP Betsch art and photography exhibit

WHERE: Dubai International Art Centre (Gallery 76, Near Mercato Mall)

WHEN: Saturday - Wednesday 9am to 9pm Thursday 9am-4pm, Friday closed

CONTACT: 04 3444398

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