By Sharifah Alhinai
Emirati artist Roudha Al Mazrouei with one of her oil paintings that explores Emirati womanhood. Image by Humoud Mosabih.
At 19 years old, Roudha Al Mazrouei is one of the United Arab Emirates’ most promising young artists. A student of Visual Arts and Art History at New York University Abu Dhabi, Al Mazrouei was a member of the team that won first place in the Abu Dhabi Art Pavilion Prize in 2021 as well as the Christo and Jeanne Claude Award in 2022. Last year, the young artist also co-curated Emaratiya, an art show that took place at the New York University Abu Dhabi Arts Centre, that explored what it means to be an Emirati woman and showcased one of her paintings on the world’s largest permanent outdoor projection with the Khaleeji Art Museum.I spoke to the driven multidisciplinary artist, who works with mediums such as oil painting, sculpture and photography, about the themes she enjoys exploring through her art, her latest photography series, what love means to her and her future goals.
What led you to art, and how did you develop your artistic style?
RA: I have always been drawn to art. From a young age, I was fascinated by the way a single brushstroke could make an entire painting come to life. When I started experimenting with different mediums, such as oil paints, watercolours and clay, I realised that art was my passion and that I had to pursue it. From there, I began learning more about art and developing my style and technique, and slowly but surely, I saw my style develop by incorporating surrealistic elements. This style allows me to create works of art that are dreamlike and fantastical. My journey with art has been a long and rewarding one, and I am excited to see what comes next.
Who are some of the artists that you look up to and what are some of the themes you enjoy tackling through your work?
RA: Remedios Varo, Leonora Carrington, Aidha Badr and Yumna al Arashi are only a few names of so many more that have inspired me through their work, either in their paintings or films. Womanhood through an Emirati lens is an important theme that I incorporate into many of my works. It is multifaceted, so I strive to represent this complexity in my artworks through Emirati traditional dresses, jewellery, scenes and elements I see growing up.
From the Bound to Sing series by Roudha Al Mazrouei.
Tell us about your latest series, Bound to Sing. What inspired it?
RA: This series was inspired by the cinematic experience of the Avant-garde film, The Color of Pomegranates, as it depicts the life of revered 18th-century Armenian poet and musician Sayat-Nova (Vilen Galstyan). However, the series is inspired by its aesthetic elements rather than its story. My series tells the story of a young woman whose heart, represented by a pomegranate, is being expelled from her body. This takes on the poetic concept of a vessel within a vessel. It was photographed on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.
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