Art is having a moment in Abu Dhabi. And while we are used to seeing outside talent gracing the arts scene, we have the privilege of home grown artists like Budour Al Ali who paint a wonderful picture of Abu Dhabi and its rich cultural tapestry through their work…
Budour Al Ali, an Emirati artist who is known for her portraits of the Abu Dhabi royal family, has been having her work displayed at the prestigious Jannah Burj Al Sarab hotel. The artist’s year-long exhibition has been based in the lobby of the hotel located in the Al Zahiya/Mina area.
The exclusive art display showcases the spirit of the UAE through four collections, updated in each quarter over the year. This is a rare opportunity for guests, residents and tourists to discover the rich culture, heritage and folklore of the UAE through her artwork. The works will also give visitors a glimpse of cultural buildings and local handicraft.
Additionally, three sketches of the Abu Dhabi royal family, which have been specially commissioned by Jannah Burj Al Sarab management, have been housed permanently in the hotel’s lobby. Here, Budour tells us more about her artistic tools, techniques and inspirations…
Tell us about your journey into art…
Before this path with canvas, colours and brushes began, I had jumbo crayons and scrap sheets of newspaper that my grandmother would collect for me to release my creative expression. My grandmother is a big influence behind my artistic journey; she always supported and nurtured the creative force that lived inside me from a young age. It was later on that my family and friends mentioned that I viewed the world around me with a different perspective – that of an artist. Being creative and creating paintings came natural to me. It was my grandmother’s love that motivated and challenged me to continue improving; I always wanted to impress her with new paintings. She noticed how my interpretations of the world would trickle in every aspect of my life – from my bedroom to schoolbooks. From there, I continued to experiment with different mediums and forms of art.
Your art is heavy in thick strokes – what is your signature style?
I love to give my artworks a visual power, the thickly textured almost three dimensional appearance. I like seeing globs of paint sticking out from the canvas. I love the paintings to have feelings, and movement and to just let the paint squish onto the canvas and sit there. I think concretely about every individual brushstroke. This is how I made a name for myself. I fill the strokes of my brushes with thick paints to impart sculptural appearance to the artwork, which heighten the appearance of texture and depth creating a unique style. It had made my style recognisable.
What are the tools and techniques you use?
Oil paints, brushes and the palette knife to paint and create texture. I can do a lot with a little. I also sketch in pencils and sometimes I like painting with watercolors.
You’re known for painting the royal family. How have you gotten this access?
I am a realist artist. I paint mostly in/with the realism and expressionism styles. I paint portraits of the official pictures of the royal family members of the UAE and other countries for hotels and companies. I paint them using pictures that are available everywhere, or sometimes in public occasions I’d meet them and be able to memorise the features to paint it.
Are you intimately acquainted with them? Does this help in your work?
I met many of them throughout my life journey, but not as an artist. I rarely
meet them as an artist. Usually, certainly seeing the person face to face would
help me improve on my work and also give it a smoother or more natural look,
specially if it was a face or a feature which I am painting.
How do you want them to be portrayed?
In the best possible, most extraordinary way. The way that suits them. They are very unique and kind and deserve to be portrayed in the best way that describes them.I focus always on capturing their smiles. I try as much as I can to paint them smiling. To spread the feeling of happiness in the best possible way.
Describe your art collection, what is being showcased?
It’s all about the natural, desert life of the UAE. The beautiful rare landscape sceneries existing in Abu Dhabi like flamingos, mangroves, gazelles and Oryx. Also Saadiyat beach and local plants.
What has been your career highlight so far?
Being able to focus on capturing the beauty of the UAE culture in my artworks, has been a great success. Beside painting the Dubai expo2020 building paintings, and coming up with the idea of the creative initiative “be an artist for a minute”, and complete the painting with us- which is a live show of painting oil painting in size: 150 x 150 at almost every exhibition, I think growing my art gallery business, and being able to operate as an art gallery from three wonderful different places at the same time has been my greatest achievement.