Seamless Loop - Solo Exhibition at Meem Gallery Dubai - 2016

No Single Rule
Meagan Kelly Horsman

“As for interrogating a contemporary painting, viewers are better placed to frame their interrogation by knowing not where a painting leads to, but where a painting is coming from. What counts in the process is the sum and substance of journeying more than the confirmation of a message.”[1]

-Kamal Boullata

Whilst the subject of Boullata’s text was a painting, the consensus fits perfectly when considering the work of Sheikha Wafa Bint Hasher Al Maktoum. The journey is paramount; the steps and processes taken to arrive at the final point provide the very substance of the work. This focus and emphasis on the creative voyage is reflected stylistically within the work itself, through the use of the mandala as symbol, providing a sense of mentality for the viewer to follow.

Maktoum began working with the concept of iconography and symbols in 2012. For her, inspiration could be found throughout her homeland the UAE, even if many others could not seem to find it. By selecting key symbols she felt represented the UAE in terms of iconography, she began playing with the very notion of what an icon really represents, and how it can be used to instill feelings and thoughts in the observer. Strength, loyalty, vision, endurance, sustainability – these were all adjectives conjured from the falcon, the horse, the camel – images we have come to know as Emirati. But over time, her focus became more concentrated on what the symbols meant, rather than with their appearance – the horse is no longer a horse, but a motif to relay a particular feeling or focus.

In essence Maktoum reduces an icon or symbol to its most simple form, transforming it into a stylized version of it’s former self. Taking these streamlined symbols, Maktoum began to experiment with their use; painting, sketching, creating digital versions and playing with colour. This exercise in experimentation led to the creation of kaleidoscopic designs, created by manipulating the symbol in a circular motion, always geometrical in design. Maktoum terms this process ‘construction, deconstruction, reconstruction’. The symbol is thus created, diffused by its handling to be deconstructed, and re-constructed anew.

Maktoum utilizes a variety of techniques and media in the works that create Seamless Loop. Screen-printing, painting and embroidery create intricate abstracted designs that welcome in the curious. Before production on the final processes began, Maktoum experimented with digital files, hand drawn sketches, water colours and pastels, in order to arrive at her departure point for this body of work. 

Taking these sharp lined designs in black and white; Maktoum transforms them into softer, textured abstracted circles that fill the field of vision. Each piece of textile used in every work was hand-selected and represents a part of the work – netting for the Fish, raw silk as bark for the Palm. Discussing the process, Maktoum referred to the creation of the textile works as akin to painting, placing colour and textile where she felt it belonged, removing or altering textiles when she felt they didn't fit. The physicality of process was also extremely attractive to Maktoum, sitting for long hours with the tailors, working over the stretched linen, and creating screen-prints using new technology. As an established graphic designer, Maktoum used the creation of this body of work as a way to combine her skills in design with her interest as a fine artist, merging both disciplines into one.

There is a parallel between the works in this exhibition and in the career of Maktoum, a certain sense of transition and coming of age prevails. Seamless Loop draws inspiration from her life and surroundings as it always has, but there is an overriding impression of development and process present. Taking techniques used previously in her practice, such as embroidery and stitching, here Maktoum applies it as a vehicle to deconstruct an image, whilst constructing something all together new. 

 “There is no single rule that governs the use of geometry. I don't think that one exists.”

-Benoit Mandelbrot[2]

[1] Kamal Boullata, Journeying through Transparency p29, Bilqis exhibition catalogue, Meem Editions, 2014
[2] Interview with New Scientist magazine, 2004

ARABIAN LEOPARD - screen-print, paint and embroidery on fabric, 86cm diameter, 2016
CAMEL - screen-print, paint and embroidery on fabric, 86cm diameter, 2016
FALCON - screen-print, paint and embroidery on fabric, 86cm diameter, 2016
FISH - screen-print, paint and embroidery on fabric, 86cm diameter, 2016
FORT - screen-print, paint and embroidery on fabric, 86cm diameter, 2016
GAZELLE - screen-print, paint and embroidery on fabric, 86cm diameter, 2016
HORSE - screen-print, paint and embroidery on fabric, 86cm diameter, 2016
PALM BARK - screen-print, paint and embroidery on fabric, 86cm diameter, 2016
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