Walking along the historic Ajman Heritage District — the current venue of the Al Murabbaa Arts Festival — is akin to stepping inside a giant, bright bubble bustling with creativity. With local and international artists, sculptors and photographers showcasing several aspects of their craft, the festival, on till November 6th, 2021, is a haven of great talent and unique ideas.
The event opened to the public in a glittering ceremony on October 28th, 2021, inaugurated by H.R.H. Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Crown Prince of Ajman. Following the festival’s logo ‘Inspired by Yesterday to Imagine Tomorrow’, Iranian artist Mahnaz Karimi presents three exquisite resin art installations. Titled — ‘Dance of Parnian’, ‘Queen of Sheba’ and ‘Burnt City Mirror’ — her work entwines elements from ancient Middle Eastern tales curated with a contemporary outlook, mixing resin, fabric and alcohol ink.
Set against the backdrop of the Al Murabbaa Fort and Watchtower, Mahnaz’s installations have been garnering viewers attention. Recipient of the Bronze A Design Award 2020 in Arts, Crafts and Design category, Mahnaz specialises in resin art terming her artistic methods unorthodox, yet rooted in Middle Eastern culture. “The theme of Al Murabbaa Arts Festival matches the concept behind my new art series. Since stories behind art are so important to me I am elated to be part of this festival and for the opportunity to showcase my art in the UAE,” says Mahnaz.
One of her installations on display is – ‘Dance of Parnian’, created in her signature multiple resin bowl style, assembled together to create an eye-catching experience for the viewer. “My art is primarily based upon pouring which means applying the paint by pouring rather than with paint and brush. This sense of fluidity, along with the unpredictable nature of resin, gives me the opportunity to explore varied textures found in nature more realistically than any other medium,” says Mahnaz.
Dance of Parnian at Al Murabbaa Arts Festival
In ‘Dance of Parnian’, the artist has taken inspiration from the lightness of Persian origin Parnian silk. Using alcohol ink in shades of turquoise, navy and ocean blue, she has created a constellation of resin bowls depicting the ease of flowing silk and the fluidity of blowing wind. Taking the artistic responsibility of preserving ancient tales and age-old fabrics, Mahnaz’s next two installations take cue from history and culture.
In ‘Burnt City Mirror’, Mahnaz uses Sistan carpet fabric with resin and mirror symbolising the meshing together of the past and the present. The title of the installation pays homage to Shahr-e-Shukhteh, (The Burnt City in Persia), a UNESCO World Heritage site located in Sistan and Baluchistan province in Iran. Sistan is also famous for carpets that date back two thousand years. “I have tried to merge the worlds of classical and contemporary art, evoking in my viewers the depth and feelings that they can experience by connecting to our past,” she shares.
Burnt City Mirror, resin mixed with glass and Sistan carpet fabric
The creative process behind this installation, according to the artist, includes choosing patterns from hand woven carpets, printing them on fabric and then covering them with resin.
In her other equally stunning artwork, ‘Queen of Sheba’, a pair of almond shaped brown eyes, look at the world from behind the veil of a Sistan fabric resin creation. “Here, I have tried to use the flying carpet as a metaphor for love and compassion. I took inspiration from the legendary tale of the Queen of Sheba and the magic carpet she sent as a token of love to King Solomon,” she reveals.
Queen of Sheba, resin art by Mahnaz at Al Murabbaa Arts Festival
Born in 1984 in Tehran, Mahnaz was drawn towards art during her teenage years. After completing a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphics from Alzahra University in Tehran, she acquired mastery over glass painting and abstract resin art. “Resin has a fluid soul, that allows me to delve deep into my inner creativity to sculpt dynamic forms and textures. Now at the Al Murabba Festival, I feel I have the best platform to grow, develop and display my art,” says Mahnaz.