Dubai Canvas Festival brings illusion alive with 3D street art

Shaily Kalra

Dubai Canvas Festival

Dubai: Dubai Canvas Festival, which opened on March 1 and will continue till March 14, is seeking to take art closer to the Dubai community through unique workshops being held on the sidelines of the event. Two of the most prominent artists featured in the Festival, Kurt Wenner and Neil Harbisson, presented a series of workshops that explained their artistic techniques and creative approach.

Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who wants to transform Dubai into an open-air art museum, visited Dubai Canvas Festival 2016 this past Friday.

Wenner, who is acknowledged across the world as the founder of 3D art, conducted workshops on his artistic methods while Harbisson, the world’s first cyborg artist, demonstrated how he uses an antenna implanted in his skull to ‘hear’ colours.

Organised by Brand Dubai, the creative arm of the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO), in partnership with Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR), a renowned destination developed and managed by Dubai Properties (DP), the Dubai Canvas Festival features over 60 works of 30 well-known international, regional and local artists.

In his workshops, Wenner demonstrated the techniques he uses to create unique 3D illusions in his works. Wenner invented 3D pavement art in 1984 inspired by the use of the ‘anamorphic’ perspective of the European classical masters. The artist created an entirely new geometry to compose images that appear to rise from, or fall into, the ground when viewed from a specific angle. Wenner’s workshops explained the principles of geometry and perspective that are fundamental to the creation of his works.

The artist feels Dubai provides an ideal environment for displaying his creative work. “The multicultural composition of Dubai is a perfect environment for the interactive images I create. In many ways, Dubai is a city of the future. It grows with design and intention rather than by historical accident. Therefore, the city provides a good measure for the future success of an art form,” he said.

In another unique series of workshops, Neil Harbisson demonstrated how he uses the tonal equivalent of colours to create unique musical pieces. Harbisson, who has officially been recognised as a cyborg, ‘hears’ the tonal equivalent of colours through an antenna implanted in his skull. His workshop explained how he uses audible frequencies received from his implant to interpret the colours of the world around him in terms of sound.

Member of the Organising Committee of Dubai Canvas Festival, Ayesha bin Kalli said: “We have designed the workshops to create opportunities for the public to engage with and interact with the artists. As part of our objective of supporting the development of art in Dubai, we are seeking to raise awareness and interest in the unique forms of art being showcased at the Festival.”

Apart from Kurt Wenner and Neil Harbisson, artists participating in the Dubai Canvas Festival include Dutch pop-surrealist artist Leon Keer; Portuguese street artist Sergio Odeith; London-based graffiti artist Fanakapan; Chinese street artist Qi Xinghua; and Brazilian street artist Eduardo Kobra.

Chinese artist Qi Xinghua holds the world record for his giant 3D creative art work – “Lions Gate Gorge”- in front of a shopping mall in Guangzhou, China. It measures an impressive 23 meters wide and 32 meters long.

The artworks are being exhibited in an area stretching over two kilometres within Jumeirah Beach Residence. The public visiting the Festival have numerous opportunities to watch master street artists at work.

Given the importance of the festival, Brand Dubai has announced Dubai Canvas 3D Art Award to be given out next year. The award will have a total prize money of Dh 2.3 million. The Award will be open to artists across the world under the theme of ‘Happiness’. The purpose behind this theme is to make Dubai a happy, creative and a homely place not only for the residents of UAE but even for tourists who come to visit this happy and beautiful place, so whenever they leave Dubai they take its beautiful and joyful memories along with them.

The Festival is free to attend. The event runs from 1 March to 14 March 2016 at JBR from 4.00 pm to 10.00 pm on weekdays and from 10.00 am to 11.00 pm on the weekend.

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