E-Issue 07 –– AUH
Winter 2023-24

January 29th, 2024

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in Abu Dhabi/Dubai
  3. Cover Interview: Shaikha Al Ketbi on Darawan
  4. Rapport: Public Art in the Gulf and a Case Study of Manar Abu Dhabi
  5. Hashel Al Lamki’s Survey Exhibition Maqam Reflects on a Decade of Practice in Abu Dhabi
  6. “You Can’t Stand on a Movement”: Michelangelo Pistoletto Interviews Benton Interviewing Pistoletto

Winter/Spring 2024

Curators Interview May 14, 2024
AUH Embracing Change through an Open System: Maya Allison and Duygu Demir on “In Real Time” at NYUAD Art Gallery

About ––

    What We Do
    Editorial Board

Interviews ––

    Selected Archive

Open Call ––

    E-08 Seoul

Newsletter ––

Chronological Archive ––

    Selected Archive

Artist Interview November 18th, 2016
AUH Raed Yassin in Abu Dhabi

Editorial March 1st, 2018
AUH Abu Dhabi Is The New Calabasas

Exhibition Listing May 22nd, 2018
DXB Christopher Benton: If We Don't Reclaim Our History, The Sand Will

Artist Interview June 15th, 2018
TYO An Interview with BIEN, a Rising Japanese Artist

Artist Interview July 17th, 2018
TYO Rintaro Fuse on Selfies and Cave Painting

Artist Interview August 28th, 2018
BER Slavs and Tatars: “Pulling a Thread to Undo The Sweater”

Artist Interview September 1st, 2018
NYC Shirin Neshat In Conversation with Sophie Arni and Ev Zverev

Artist Interview September 1st, 2018
PAR Hottest Spices: Michèle Lamy

E-Issue 01 –– AUH/DXB
Summer 2020

August 1st, 2020

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in the UAE
  3. Pop(Corn): Hashel Al Lamki
  4. Tailoring in Abu Dhabi
  5. Rapport: Dubai
  6. Michael Rakowitz From the Diaspora

Fall/Winter 2020-21

Artist Interview August 23rd, 2020
LHR/MCT Hanan Sultan Rhymes Frankincense with Minimalism

Artist Interview August 24th, 2020
DXB Augustine Paredes Taking Up Space

Artist Interview August 26th, 2020
AUH Sarah Almehairi Initiates Conversations

Market Interview August 28th, 2020
AUH/DXB 101 Pioneers Ethical and Curious Art Collecting

Exhibition September 1st, 2020
DXB Alserkal Arts Foundation Presents Mohamed Melehi

Market Interview September 4th, 2020
DXB Meet Tamila Kochkarova Behind ‘No Boys Allowed’

Artist Interview September 7th, 2020
DXB Taaboogah Infuses Comedy Into Khaleeji Menswear

Artist Interview September 10th, 2020
LHR/CAI Alaa Hindia’s Jewelry Revives Egyptian Nostalgia

Curator Interview September 14th, 2020
UAE Tawahadna Introduces MENA Artists to a Global Community

Exhibition Review September 24th, 2020
MIA a_part Gives Artists 36 Hours to React

Artist Interview September 27th, 2020
AUH BAIT 15 Welcomes New Member Zuhoor Al Sayegh

Market Interview October 14th, 2021
DXB Thaely Kicks Off Sustainable Sneakers

Exhibition Review October 19th, 2020
DXB Do You See Me How I See You?

Exhibition October 22nd, 2020
TYO James Jarvis Presents Latest Collages at 3110NZ

Exhibition Review October 22nd, 2020
AUH Ogamdo: Crossing a Cultural Highway between Korea and the UAE

Book Review October 28th, 2020
DAM Investigating the Catalogues of the National Museum of Damascus

Exhibition Review November 13th, 2020
Kanye Says Listen to the Kids: Youth Takeover at Jameel Arts Centre

Exhibition Review November 16th, 2021
DXB Melehi’s Waves Complicate Waving Goodbye

Exhibition Review November 19th, 2020
DXB Spotlight on Dubai Design Week 2020

Exhibition Review November 21st, 2020
DXB 101 Strikes Again with Second Sale at Alserkal Avenue

Exhibition Review
November 23rd, 2020

AUH SEAF Cohort 7 at Warehouse 421

Exhibition Review December 9th, 2020
SHJ Sharjah Art Foundation Jets Ahead on the Flying Saucer

Curator Interview January 25th, 2021
DXB Sa Tahanan Collective Redefines Home for Filipino Artists

Exhibition Review February 21st, 2021
GRV MIA Anywhere Hosts First Virtual Exhibition of Female Chechen Artists  

🎙️GAD Talk Series –– Season 1 2020

November 1st, 2020
1. What is Global Art Daily? 2015 to Now

November 16th, 2020
2. Where is Global Art Daily? An Open Coversation on Migration as Art Practitioners

November 29th, 2020
3. When the Youth Takes Over: Reflecting on the 2020 Jameel Arts Centre Youth Takeover

December 20th, 2020
4. Young Curators in Tokyo: The Making of The 5th Floor

January 27th, 2021
5. How To Create Digital Networks in The Art World?

E-Issue 02 –– NYC
Spring 2021

February 21st, 2021

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in NYC
  3. Pop(Corn): Zeid Jaouni
  4. You Can Take The Girl Out Of The City
  5. Rapport: NYC
  6. Kindergarten Records Discuss The Future of Electronic Music
  7. Sole DXB Brings NY Hip-Hop To Abu Dhabi
  8. Wei Han Finds ‘Home’ In New York
  9. Vikram Divecha: Encounters and Negotiations

Spring/Summer 2021

Exhibition Review March 3rd, 2021
DXB There’s a Hurricane at the Foundry

Exhibition Review March 7th, 2021
AUH Re-viewing Contrasts: Hyphenated Spaces at Warehouse421

Curator Interview March 21st, 2021
DXB Permeability and Regional Nodes: Sohrab Hura on Curating Growing Like a Tree at Ishara Art Foundation

Exhibition March 28th, 2021
DXB Alserkal Art Week Top Picks

Exhibition Review April 1st, 2021
DXB A ‘Menu Poem’ and All That Follows

Exhibition Review April 5th, 2021
DXB A Riot Towards Landscapes

Exhibition April 16th, 2021
RUH Noor Riyadh Shines Light on Saudi Arabia’s 2030 Art Strategy

Artist Interview April 26th, 2021
CTU/AUH/YYZ Sabrina Zhao: Between Abu Dhabi, Sichuan, and Toronto

Exhibition Review April 27th, 2021
TYO BIEN Opens Two Solo Exhibitions in Island Japan and Parcel

Artist Interview April 28th, 2021
DXB Ana Escobar: Objects Revisited

Exhibition May 9th, 2021
LDN Fulfilment Services Ltd. Questions Techno-Capitalism on Billboards in London

Artist Interview May 11th, 2021
BAH Mihrab: Mysticism, Devotion, and Geo-Identity

Curator Interview May 20th, 2021
DXB There Is A You In The Cloud You Can’t Delete: A Review of “Age of You” at Jameel Arts Centre

Market Interview May 26th, 2021
TYO Startbahn, Japan’s Leading Art Blockchain Company, Builds a New Art Infrastructure for the Digital Age

Exhibition June 11th, 2021
TYO “Mimicry of Hollows” Opens at The 5th Floor

Exhibiton Review June 20th, 2021
AUH “Total Landscaping”at Warehouse 421

Artist Interview June 30th, 2021
OSA Rintaro Fuse Curates “Silent Category” at Creative Center Osaka

Exhibition Review August 9th, 2021
DXB “After The Beep”: A Review and Some Reflections

E-Issue 03 ––TYO
Fall 2021

October 1st, 2022

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in TYO
  3. Pop(Corn): Nimyu
  4. Ahmad The Japanese: Bady Dalloul on Japan and Belonging
  5. Rapport: Tokyo
  6. Alexandre Taalba Redefines Virtuality at The 5th Floor
  7. Imagining Distant Ecologies in Hypersonic Tokyo: A Review of “Floating Between the Tropical and Glacial Zones”
  8. Ruba Al-Sweel Curates “Garden of e-arthly Delights” at SUMAC Space
  9. Salwa Mikdadi Reflects on the Opening of NYU Abu Dhabi’s Arab Center for the Study of Art

Fall/Winter 2021-22

Market Interview October 6th, 2021
RUH HH Prince Fahad Al Saud Discusses Saudi Arabia’s Artistic Renaissance

Exhibition October 7th, 2021
RUH Misk Art Institute’s Annual Flagship Exhibition Explores the Universality of Identity

Curator Interview October 15th, 2021
IST “Once Upon a Time Inconceivable”: A Review and a Conversation

Exhibition Review October 16th, 2021
AUH Woman as a Noun, and a Practice: “As We Gaze Upon Her” at Warehouse421

Exhibition Review February 11th, 2022

Artist Interview February 26th, 2022
TYO Akira Takayama on McDonald’s Radio University, Heterotopia, and Wagner Project

Artist Interview March 10th, 2022
DXB Prepare The Ingredients and Let The Rest Flow: Miramar and Zaid’s “Pure Data” Premieres at Satellite for Quoz Arts Fest 2022

Exhibition March 11th, 2022
DXB Must-See Exhibitions in Dubai - Art Week Edition 2022

Exhibition Review March 14th, 2022
DXB Art Dubai Digital, An Alternative Art World?

E-Issue 04 –– IST
Spring 2022

March 15th, 2022

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in IST
  3. Pop(Corn): Refik Anadol
  4. Rapport: Istanbul
  5. Independent Spaces in Istanbul: Sarp Özer on Operating AVTO

Spring/Summer 2022

Curator Interview March 21st, 2022

Market Interview March 28th, 2022
DXB Dubai's Postmodern Architecture: Constructing the Future with 3dr Models

Exhibition April 23rd, 2022
HK Startbahn Presents “Made in Japan 3.0: Defining a New Phy-gital Reality”, an NFT Pop-Up at K11 Art Mall

Exhibition May 6th, 2022
Istanbul’s 5533 Presents Nazlı Khoshkhabar’s “Around and Round”

Artist Interview May 13th, 2022
“We Are Witnessing History”: Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian On Their Retrospective Exhibition at NYU Abu Dhabi Art Gallery

Artist Interview June 13th, 2022
DXB “Geometry is Everywhere”: An Interview and Walking Tour of Order of Magnitude, Jitish Kallat’s Solo Exhibition at Dubai’s Ishara Art Foundation

Exhibition June 21st, 2022
DXB Art Jameel Joins The World Weather Network in a Groundbreaking Response to Global Climate Crisis

Exhibition June 27th, 2022
What’s On in the UAE: Our Top Summer Picks

Curator Interview July 9th, 2022
IST Creating an Artist Books Library in Istanbul: Aslı Özdoyuran on BAS

E-Issue 05 –– VCE
Fall 2022

September 5th, 2022

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in VCE
  3. Pop(Corn): UAE National Pavilion
  4. Rapport: Venice
  5. Zeitgeist of our Time: Füsun Onur for the Turkish Pavilion at the 59th Venice Biennale
  6. GAD’s Top Picks: National Pavilions
  7. Strangers to the Museum Wall: Kehinde Wiley’s Venice Exhibition Speaks of Violence and Portraiture
  8. Questioning Everyday Life: Alluvium by Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian at OGR Torino in Venice

Fall/Winter 2022-23

Market Interview June 28th, 2022
How Pearl Lam Built Her Gallery Between China and Europe

Exhibition November 11th, 2022
“Atami Blues” Brings Together UAE-Based and Japanese Artists in HOTEL ACAO ANNEX

Exhibition December 2nd, 2022
TYO Wetland Lab Proposes Sustainable Cement Alternative in Tokyo

Artist Interview December 9th, 2022
DXB Navjot Altaf Unpacks Eco-Feminism and Post-Pandemic Reality at Ishara Art Foundation

Artist Interview January 8th, 2023
TYO Shu Yonezawa and the Art of Animation

Artist Interview January 19th, 2023
NYC Reflecting on Her Southwestern Chinese Bai Roots, Peishan Huang Captures Human Traces on Objects and Spaces

Exhibition Review February 9th, 2023
DXB Augustine Paredes Builds His Paradise Home at Gulf Photo Plus

Artist Interview February 22nd, 2023
DXB Persia Beheshti Shares Thoughts on Virtual Worlds and the State of Video Art in Dubai Ahead of Her Screening at Bayt Al Mamzar

E-Issue 06 –– DXB/SHJ
Spring 2023

April 12th, 2023

  1. Editor’s Note
  2. What’s On in the UAE
  3. Pop(Corn): Jumairy
  4. Rapport: Art Dubai 2023
  5. Highlights from Sharjah Biennial 15
  6. Is Time Just an Illusion? A Review of "Notations on Time" at Ishara Art Foundation
  7. Saif Mhaisen and His Community at Bayt AlMamzar

DXB Christopher Joshua Benton to Debut Mubeen, City as Archive at The Third Line Shop in Collaboration with Global Art Daily

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5. Hashel Al Lamki’s Survey Exhibition Maqam Reflects on a Decade of Practice in Abu Dhabi

By Susanne Niemann
Introduction by Sophie Mayuko Arni

Published on January 29, 2024

        Every year, Abu Dhabi Art hosts a Gateway exhibition. Situated in the middle of the fair, the exhibition usually takes the form of a group exhibition, with a guest curator highlighting both local and international artists. Providing space for new cross-cultural dialogues and outlasting the fair by three months, this series of curated exhibitions has been giving an institutional flair to the commercial setting, presenting UAE-based artists alongside artists of a focus region of the same generation.

For the 15th anniversary of the fair, Abu Dhabi Art invited Venetia Porter, art historian and previously Senior Curator for Islamic and Contemporary Middle East art at the British Museum (1989-2022), to curate a solo exhibition of Hashel Al Lamki. Hashel was chosen to represent Abu Dhabi, his home Emirate, providing both local and global perspectives.

While he was the only artist showing, the exhibition still achieved the completeness of a curated group exhibition. That, I believe, is a pure reflection of the diversity of thought and life experiences that he has actively been seeking throughout his life and career, some of which we covered in our interview with the artist for Global Art Daily’s inaugural E-Issue 01. Since his first solo exhibition at Warehouse421, the multidisciplinary artist has exhibited in biennials and exhibitions throughout the world. From Lyon to Atami to AlUla, Hashel’s global mindset takes him to cities and places far beyond Abu Dhabi, while his practice always ties back to finding universal truth from his home of Al Ain, the mountain range of Jebel Hafeet, and the coastlines of the United Arab Emirates.

While his strongest suit remains painting, the past two years have shown the range of his practice: from painting to immersive sound and video works, to sculpture, and site-specific installations, fluidity and flexibility are a constant. Maqam, the name of the neighborhood where Hashel grew up in Al Ain, felt very much like a homecoming at Abu Dhabi’s annual gathering of the international art crowd.

We had the chance to catch up with Hashel two weeks before the exhibition opening.

This conversation was held on November 7, 2023.

Susanne Niemann: Hashel, your Maqam exhibition, part of Gateway at Abu Dhabi Art, will open in about two weeks. It feels like a big moment in your career, a homecoming to Abu Dhabi, and also a major review of your creative practice up to this day. How are you feeling about it?

Hashel Al Lamki: To be honest, I'm very grateful for this opportunity. We've been in talks about this for a little bit over a year now. If you had asked me 16 years ago whether I would ever be recognized or appreciated this way, I wouldn't have guessed it honestly. I was just chasing my dreams and doing whatever I needed to do as a person and as an artist. And now, this kind of love that I'm receiving back–it's coming together, and I'm so grateful for all the opportunities that I have had in the past but also in particular for this upcoming survey show.

1. Opening of Hashel Al Lamki: Maqam. Gateway Exhibition at Abu Dhabi Art 2023. Image courtesy of the author.

If you had asked me 16 years ago whether I would ever be recognized or appreciated this way, I wouldn't have guessed it honestly.

S.N.: You say it in such beautiful words. Maqam, is that the name of the neighborhood where you grew up?

H.L.: Yes, and I’m here at the moment. I decided to be stationed here for the two weeks before the show opens to be fully immersed in the neighborhood. I haven't been back for quite some time, and I'm dedicating the show to Al Ain and Maqam in particular, so I have to spend some time here. I will go to the opening from here.

2. Hashel Al Lamki, Endless Love, 2023. Oil painting, natural pigment, oil pastels, ink, on cotton bedsheet 243.5 x 163.5 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Tabari Art Space.

I'm dedicating the show to Al Ain and Maqam in particular, so I have to spend some time here. I will go to the opening from here.

S.N.: I like this idea that you're coming back to one of the environments that inspired you. Is that also where you started to paint?

H.L.: Yes, it was in this same house! I mean, it has been remodeled since then. I believe it was in grade four when I claimed an extra space in the house and turned it into a studio without really knowing what I was doing. I was just excited to create and make a space and claim that as a studio. And then I realized, I was just doing the same things that I'm doing right now. It became my destiny.

S.N.: Is that space still around? Are you still working there now?

H.L.: No, we are talking about the early nineties. The house has been reshaped but I know where that space is. I can see it from here but it is part of another space now. I left in 2007, so you know, it's been a while since I actually produced work in this house.

3. Hashel Al Lamki‘s three-dimensional studies ahead of his Maqam exhibition in his Abu Dhabi studio, 2023. Images courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art. Photo by Jimmy deParis.

I believe it was in grade four when I claimed an extra space in the house and turned it into a studio without really knowing what I was doing.

S.N.: It must be nice for you to have the opportunity to be around that space where your practice started. I'm curious about your process of working with Venetia Porter, the curator of Maqam. What did the process look like given that this is a major review of your artistic practice? What do you want the show to be like? What experience do you wish for the visitors of Maqam?

H.L.: I met Venetia when I was showing at the Lyon Biennale last year, the sixteenth edition. She was part of a curatorial tour, and I was just explaining my work. I went to Japan and soon after my show opened, I received a notification that Venetia would like to have a Zoom call with me. I was excited when she told me that she had been appointed as the curator and was deciding on the selection of artists. She told me about her vision and I was super honored and humbled.

This is like coming back in a full circle to Abu Dhabi. Someone recognized me outside of the UAE. This might be a two-sided conversation, but I think it’s important to not just be a voice locally. I’m based locally while participating in international shows. I'm excited about these connections with other shows that I've been in, like the Atami Art Grant in Japan, working with Sophie Arni, and another group exhibition in Brussels.

People are starting to take this region seriously. It’s important to position ourselves as artists from the diaspora and from the region. We are serious and we are not different from artists based in Berlin or New York, or any other place.

Back to your questions, it's been really sweet working with Venetia. Compared to other solo exhibitions I’ve had,  this show feels very personal. It's about the narratives and stories that I have been going through. The show is defining and helping me as a person. We are looking back finding the common threads. During one of Venetia’s first studio visits earlier this year,I was swiftly going through my works, one of by one, and she kept on pausing. She was like, hold on, look at this, it's all connected. I’m still talking about the same themes, regardless of the medium, whether it’s video, photography, painting, or performance. I’m putting boundaries, but it’s all there.

People are starting to take this region seriously. It’s important to position ourselves as artists from the diaspora and from the region. We are serious and we are not different from artists based in Berlin or New York, or any other place.

4. Hashel Al Lamki in his Abu Dhabi studio ahead of Maqam exhibition, 2023. Images courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art. Photo by Jimmy deParis.

S.N.: It’s beautiful that she could see this connection. I think that is the value of going through your work with someone who has a more distant perspective. I'm curious, out of the works you will be showing, is there one or more that hold particular meaning to you or that you connect to a special moment?

H.L.: All of them do. I love them all so it's hard to choose. It was also hard for us as a team, Venetia and myself, to narrow it down to a specific selection of works, because I'm an excessive producer. I like to produce a lot. For the first time, viewers will be able to see some of my notebooks and some of the artist books that I created in 2007. Some paintings have never been shown before either. You know, when you're in the studio, you just make things that are not necessarily shown. I like that approach. There are a lot of personal stories that are about to come out in the works that we selected.

S.N.: When you say that you're excited about the show, is it because it is so deeply personal? This exhibition seems not to be about representing something else, but shining light on you as a person. I'm excited to see the artist books. What does your creative process generally look like? How do you go about starting a new project?

H.L.: Back to Al Ain, when I had the space in the house, I was mainly painting, because that's what I was attracted to, and also what was common back then. I'm from a small town, so we didn't have so much access to art and exhibitions.  It was a humble beginning and this feeling stayed with me for quite some time. Then, when I moved to New York, I was a little bit avant-garde. I tried different things and experimented with photography, 35mm development in the dark room, video, textiles… there was so much. That was the purpose of that period.

Something that always spoke to me is the connection with nature. I was introduced to natural pigments then, thanks to my two professors Laura Sansone and Jean Gardner. They helped me a lot in shaping my understanding of natural pigments. I was spending time at the farmers market in Union Square and picked up whatever I could use to create dyes. Then I went to Guatemala where I did a residency with a group of artisanal craftswomen who were doing textile weaving using natural pigments. After I came back, I was trying to process all this information. So for the longest time, I had this interest in natural pigments, and the consideration of natural resources while I was producing work.

You know, the medium could just be oil on canvas or acrylic on canvas, but I wanted to challenge that and introduce a sustainable aspect while talking about nature in my work. The additional layer of natural pigment is very important. I work with textiles, I mean, I call them paintings, but there is a very blurred line in between. I will leave that to the art historians and art critics to decide how to classify my work.

5. Hashel Al Lamki, Sabah Al Khair, 2018-202. Oil on canvas, from a series of 14 works, 80x80cm each. Courtesy of the artist and Tabari Art Space.

S.N.: I used to live ten minutes from Union Square so when you mentioned it, I could picture how colorful and full of inspiration it was. You mentioned living in a few places. That makes me wonder how you maintained your art practice during those times. Was it something that you actively made space for in your life? Or did it just kind of happen?

H.L.: Something I realized while working on this show, is that I was never seeking big cities. I went to Guatemala, Haiti, and New Mexico. I went to all these other regions to see what alternative artist communities are doing. I think people from small towns also have important messages to share. If I would just gravitate towards big cities, and would only be immersed in the institutional aspect of the practice, it would maybe be a commodity of showing the same thing over and over again. I’m not saying that it's not important to be in those places and showing there. But I had to follow my guts. I was between Al Ain, United Arab Emirates and Mombasa, Republic of Kenya because of my maternal connection.  I was interested in seeing other communities and ways of living in the world, and in understanding how my experience could be similar or different from other communities. That was so to say my research period. I think it’s important to be immersed in these other landscapes. I talk about Jebel Hafeet, but a mountain is a mountain. It is a universal phenomenon, and people can relate to it in different ways.

I talk about Jebel Hafeet, but a mountain is a mountain. It is a universal phenomenon, and people can relate to it in different ways.

6. Hashel Al Lamki, Jebel Hafeet (2019), from the series Versailles, 2018-2019, first exhibited at Warehouse421, 2020. Acrylic on canvas. 204 x 204 cm. Courtesy of the artist.

S.N.: I agree. I find it interesting how for example one name of the desert here is Empty Quarter, suggesting an ‘empty’ space, but it is layered with meaning and stories. When you said a mountain is a mountain, it made me think of the similar stories you will find even in places that are continents apart. How were you drawn to these themes in the first place? Was our environment something you were interested in when you started in your first studio or was it something that became more relevant for you over the years?

H.L.: You know, Al Ain is a small town that is governed by the ministry not to have high-rise buildings, so everything I saw as a child was always the mountain because the whole city falls under the mountain. You could reference the mountain at different times of the day and night. There is also my connection to the African continent and seeing how communities are trying to sustain themselves through everyday life. Then I moved to Guatemala and Haiti. I went to Haiti right after the earthquake. I wanted to understand how artists could contribute in that aftermath. After that, I was in the Netherlands in a Surinamese area where the rate of crime was very high, so they were inviting artists to come and do things. It has always been a multi-layered interest and fascination. What is also interesting to me is my adaptability to the environment and my awareness of the environment. Therefore, the decision to use natural pigments and to be sustainable in my practice is important. I have an impact, meaning a carbon footprint, and I try not to create more damage but to live within standards that are environmentally friendly at least.

S.N.: I would like to say that you are creating so much value for the people around you. I read about Bait 15, a space you started with other UAE-based artists, and that was active from 2018 to 2021. One could say, you majorly contributed to the cultural development in Abu Dhabi. Since community engagement seems to take up such a central role in your practices in the studio and beyond, I have a bigger question for you. Going back to what you mentioned before about movement and networks, what are your thoughts on the UAE art and cultural landscape now?

H.L.: The art scene here is developing. There are pockets within pockets. It's funny because it's very small and we all know each other. It's exciting to see the number of artists that are active in the scene and participating and showing, and there are more and more institutions, more galleries, and more collectives. Bait 15 came in at a period when there wasn't much happening in terms of artist initiatives. There were more top-down initiatives. We were running for four years and a half, and we did what we could during that time. Bait 15 became a safe space for a lot of the community members. They could come and have discussions, or work on projects. Well, that's a whole episode on its own. Then, it was time for self-searching and finding our individual voices. Some of the members have moved away to different cities and different countries. In general, it's dynamic and I like that aspect of it. It's always changing. There are new voices, new ideas, new challenges, new opportunities. I spent seven years in New York, and when I left, there was not much happening here. Since I came back in 2014, I have progressed in my practice in Abu Dhabi, in a way I wouldn't be able to anywhere else. There is space for growth here. I think it's also good to be on the ground, and be the voice from here to everywhere else.

Since I came back in 2014, I have progressed in my practice in Abu Dhabi, in a way I wouldn't be able to anywhere else.

7. Hashel Al Lamki and Mel in his Abu Dhabi studio ahead of Maqam exhibition, 2023. Images courtesy of Abu Dhabi Art. Photo by Jimmy deParis.
8. Opening of Hashel Al Lamki: Maqam. Gateway Exhibition at Abu Dhabi Art 2023. Image courtesy of the author.

S.N.: I agree with you on the importance of these ground-up initiatives. In Abu Dhabi, we have the Louvre, and the Guggenheim, these globally recognized names, but it is so important to have community-oriented initiatives.

H.L.: In the long term, when these institutions and museums are all going to open, and there are no artists on the ground, then, who will be there besides the tourist buses? It's important that initiatives are being made for us. We need to be engaged with the scene and develop work.

S.N.: It sometimes feels like Dubai is a bit louder and there is more happening, so I'm always happy when things are happening here in Abu Dhabi. We're coming to the close of our conversation but I have two more questions for you before you go. Firstly, what do you wish for the future of the UAE art ecosystem and for artists here?

H.L.: I have a message to myself, and fellow artists: Stay committed to yourself and your practice. Keep producing and things will come your way. Don't worry too much about the industry itself. Once you show commitment, people will respect that and understand that you are passionate. They will come and knock on your door. If it happened to me, it can happen to anyone else. It's really about being committed and figuring out the work itself, rather than being here and being there. I think that is a good reminder. Stay humble, stay in gratitude, and everything will come your way.

I have a message to myself, and fellow artists: Stay committed to yourself and your practice. Keep producing and things will come your way.

S.N.: Important words! My last question is what's next for you? What are you excited about in the future?

H.L.: Honestly, this season is my busiest season. I haven't shown in Abu Dhabi in a while. It’s my homecoming in a way and I'm excited to be part of Abu Dhabi Art. I'm also doing the Richard Mille Art Prize at the Louvre. There are a few group exhibitions that I will be participating in with smaller works, like one or two paintings here and there. My plan for 2024 is to focus on residences. I am interested in Japan and the craftsmanship there. I would like to deepen my understanding of natural pigments, and also develop my skills in brush making. That is like a wishlist. I don't have a concrete plan yet but I was told that Kyoto is where most of the traditional craftsmanship happens in Japan and Tokyo also sounds interesting. I'm open to doing residencies. Talking about longer-term plans, I would love to explore my connection with Africa. I feel like I haven't touched that in a meaningful way yet. That's where I'm at. I mean, it took me sixteen years to get to Al Maqam so it will take me some time to get to Africa.

It took me sixteen years to get to Al Maqam so it will take me some time to get to Africa.

S.N.: So Maqam is more of a temporary homecoming, hearing about all the plans and ideas you already have for 2024. I can see how Japan is an intriguing place to learn more about natural pigments. Any final words you would like to share?

H.L.:  What do I say? One thing I want to encourage the community is to document their practices and their experiences. It’s one thing to be in the contemporary moment right now, but then, for the longevity and sustainability of this practice, we need to also be able to look back and understand what has been going on. That is something that I want to call out to the community and see if people want to collaborate on short essays, or small publications – written words.

S.N.: I think future art historians will be very grateful for what you just said. It was lovely hearing more about your practice. Thank you so much for your time and all the best for Maqam.

Susanne Niemann is a Contributing Editor at Global Art Daily.

Hashel Al Lamki’s Gateway Exhibition: Maqam was on view from  November 20, 2023 - January 21, 2024 at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi.