UAE: How local artists are bringing food to life with their art

Purva Grover /Dubai Filed on June 30, 2021

The city has a great number of food choices that satiate the tummy. Enter art and it makes the soul happy too! We look at a few places where artists have left a mark

It’s said that we eat with our eyes foremost. Of course, that usually is a reference to what’s on the platter. But in the era of social media, we literally consume the hues on the walls of an eatery, via Instagram feeds, before we actually taste the dishes. We walk into a place and snap it, before we take a bite. Intrigued by the arts on the walls of city’s eatery, join as we make stopovers at a few places, where art takes the front seat.

Colours speak

Indian artist Santhosh Narang shares that while creating an artwork for a restaurant, it is important to consider what the space wants its diners to experience. His work, oil on concrete, at Chilli & Chutney, Sheraton Jumeirah Beach Resort, Dubai, is inspired by the colourful culture of India, “I created ‘Indian Pride’ for the restaurant. The portrait represents a traditional Rajasthani male figure, wearing a colourful turban and reflecting cultural pride in his expressions. I choose Rajasthan as my inspiration since it has artistic and cultural traditions, which resonate with many as the Indian way of life.” He adds that the intention with Chilli & Chutney was to create vibrant artwork to transport one’s imagination to the rich culture of the country. “In today’s times, another aspect one must consider is whether the artwork will create an Insta-worthy moment while staying relevant to the concept of the restaurant,” he adds. Narang created the artwork within three weeks. “Once I had the brief from the restaurant, the inspiration for the painting came naturally.”

Binding elements

From conceptualisation to execution for the art on walls at Shrimp Pot, Al Hudayriyat Island, Abu Dhabi and Mina Al Arab, Ras Al Khaimah, took about three weeks for Ella Orencillo, a multimedia Filipino artist. “The main thing to consider whilst introducing art to an eatery is the overall aesthetics of the restaurant. The artwork should be in harmony with every other element,” she shares. While here, she was inspired by the seafood, for her other work at Babu Town, Al Hudayriyat, Abu Dhabi, that serves Indian cuisine, she says it was the people on the street of India that got her thinking and creating.

Nostalgia rules

At Manvaar Restaurant, Al Karama, Dubai, the interiors are a combination of relief work on the walls a 6x4 feet painting (acrylic on wooden board), another 35m long border work, and a few watercolours on paper artworks as well. The border is created with pen and ink figurative sketches, with a few words in Marwari (a regional Indian language) in the Devanagari script. In short, it is like walking into an art exhibition. Indian artist Atul Panase says, “Graffiti is the most popular art form nowadays when it comes to the décor of any restaurant. Both murals and graffiti add an element of nostalgia, as they’re the oldest form of art, hence they’re an organic way of dressing up the walls.” What are the factors an artist needs to keep in mind before embarking on such a project? “The brief by the restaurant, available space, budget and time, target audience, the type of dining experience the restaurant wishes to offer.”


Purva Grover

Purva Grover is a journalist, poetess, playwright, and stage director. She made her debut as an author, with The Trees Told Me So, a collection of short stories. She is the editor of Young Times, a magazine that empowers the youth in the UAE. She conducts fortnightly writing workshops, author interaction events, open mic sessions, etc. for the writing fraternity in UAE. Her stage productions have been recognised for their boldness, honesty, and unique voice. She is backed with a post-graduate degree in mass communication and literature. Born & brought up in colourful-chaotic India, she writes in English and currently resides in Dubai, UAE. You can stalk her on Instagram @purvagr and say hello to her at