Saturday, August 17, 2013

An Introduction to Street Art in Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Ruben Sanchez - Bastakiya wall, Dubai 2013

Street art or graffiti is not exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word “Dubai.” Over the last decade, the Arabian Gulf country has been more synonymous with monumental building projects and ambitious world records than anything else.

So where is all the street art? Due to the conservative nature of the country, graffiti and vandalism can be punished with fines, jail time, and even deportation. Such severe consequences definitely put a damper on public art. Most of it has to be approved from both building owners and the municipality and can only be created at art galleries or designated venues. But that doesn’t mean street art is non-existent. In fact, there’s been a recent surge of graffiti and street art, lead by more experienced artists from Spain, London and Paris.


One artist who’s definitely creating a buzz right now is Ruben Sanchez, a Spanish street artist based in Dubai. He is currently the resident artist at the Tashkeel Gallery Guest Artist Program. His unique style is inspired by cubism, Spanish culture and colors. Ruben also collaborated on a mural with David Choe, during his recent visit to Dubai with Estevan Oriol.
Ruben Sanchez- Bicycamel. Dubai, 2013

Ruben Sanchez x David Choe wall for Tashkeel gallery


Another Dubai based graffiti duo worth mentioning are artists SYA and Bow, aka “The Graffiti Lovers.” Hailing from London, they have been individually writing as Sya One and Steffi Bow for quite sometime. The two joined forces a few years ago after meeting at an abandoned car lot. They are currently “Brand Ambassadors” for adidas originals, Tiger “Co-lab partners” and “Luminaries” for Societe Perrier.

Anonymous Dubai graffiti writer Arcadia Blank is another artist stirring up the Dubai scene. He tags temporary structures, such a construction boards, with existential, out-of-context phrases. The short-lived works are usually signed with a U or blown-up triangle. Arcadia is actually the only artist at the moment operating independently and outside of controlled environments in Dubai.

With more street art being presented, it will only be a matter of time before the authorities realize its benefits to the community. This will hopefully bring about better communication and backing to support and encourage this burgeoning movement.  

Be sure to back soon for more in-depth updates on the street art scene in the Middle East.  
SYA & Bow, "Graffiti Lovers", Dubai- DIFC

SYA & Bow, “Graffiti Lovers”, Dubai

 
SYA & Bow, “Graffiti Lovers”, Dubai

Reality - Arcadia Blank - Dubai

Arcadia Blank - Dubai