19.5.19

meet the environment agents

environment agency – abu dhabi team . 2018

environment agency – abu dhabi team . 2018

environment agency – abu dhabi team . 2018

here are a series of illustrations i worked on last year for the environment agency – abu dhabi. the lovely team at capsule arts included me as one of the selected artists to work on a series of illustrations to be displayed in the agency's newly renovated interiors.
i worked on a series of illustrations commemorating the various team members at the environment agency and their activities. the final product was a series of six illustrations, framed and installed by the organisation's staff room. i wish i had a photograph of the final illustrations on display, but unfortunately I was unable to retrieve any. 
so for this post, i'm sharing my three favourite illustrations from the final six. if you're an environment agency staff member, or have the opportunity to visit their offices, you'll get to see the complete series in all its glory.

8.5.19

smile, it's ramadan

smile, it's ramadan . 2019

wishing all those that are observing the holy month a ramadan kareem. it's my first ramadan in two years since moving back home post grad school, and i'm happy to be back around family as it's the only time of year we eat together for the month.
here's a little festive illustration based on a photo i took of ramadan decorations in one of the malls here. i immediately saw a smiley face and thought it was funny, because people during the fasting hours are far from happy!
i'll keep this short and sweet – try to make the most of ramadan whether you observe it or not. and remember, an empty stomach isn't an excuse for bad behaviour. i feel people tend to behave even worse during fasting hours and it's so stupid! drive safe, don't be judgy, give back in some way to those in need, and lastly, your experience during ramadan is a personal one. leave everyone else alone to experience their version of it.

22.4.19

virgin murals

virgin megastore, city centre mirdif . 2018

virgin megastore, city centre mirdif . 2018

virgin megastore, city centre mirdif . 2018

virgin megastore, city centre mirdif . 2018

virgin megastore, city centre mirdif . 2018

virgin megastore, city centre mirdif . 2018

virgin megastore, city centre mirdif . 2018

virgin megastore, city centre mirdif . 2018

virgin megastore, city centre mirdif . 2018

during the last week of november 2018, i worked on a series of murals in the newly renovated interiors of virgin megastore, located in city centre mirdif, dubai.  the brand over the years has changed their store concept – from being a store that sells music (which i miss) to a lifestyle brand.
along with communicating the store's brand values, the brief was pretty simple – the illustrations needed to evoke walking into a traditional market or souk, similar to a lot of my existing illustrations of shop fronts and areas around 'old dubai'. it was pretty fun working on these murals, adding a bit of humour wherever i can, as well as playing off the different sections around the store. after seeing the new store in action, i really like the contrast between the minimal, sketchy illustrations on the wall and the products in and around the store. they're definitely not overwhelming, and act really nicely as interior elements within the overall space.
i hope visitors at the store enjoy the illustrations as they shop. for anyone reading this that's based in the uae, please do check  it out in person. a big thank you goes out to virgin megastore for the opportunity. it makes me very happy knowing that these illustrations will be in the store for a very, very long time.

16.4.19

head on down to shake shack

khalid mezaina for shake shack, souk al bahar . 2019

khalid mezaina for shake shack, souk al bahar . 2019

khalid mezaina for shake shack, souk al bahar . 2019

khalid mezaina for shake shack, souk al bahar . 2019

earlier this year, i was approached by art consultants art painting lab, inviting me to create new work to be exhibited in shake shack, souk al bahar. shake shack dubai have an interest in showcasing art in their various locations around the city, bringing art to the people rather than the other way around.
i created a fun illustration, reminiscent of my older works – characters you'd encounter around a city like dubai. relating it to shake shack, i thought it would be fun to incorporate food within the illustration. the wind towers that the characters are surrounding is a reference to the location this particular shake shack is in – souk al bahar's architecture is inspired by old, traditional houses and wind towers.
i hope whoever makes it down to shake shack souk al bahar enjoys the artwork in person. it's quite big so you can't miss it! there are also a few stunning artworks on display by reem al mazrouei.
thank you art painting lab and shake shack dubai for the opportunity, and your patience. it did take awhile getting this artwork sorted, and i think the final result was worth it.

15.4.19

post march blues

portrait for kava & chai . 2019

i sense this is going to be another post where i let out feels! i type this as i'm still taking it easy post march madness, and feeling slightly uninspired by my surroundings.
it's been almost a year since i've moved back home, and things have been extremely busy with work which is swell. but i think i've started to realise that a studio practise shouldn't just entail client based projects. i tend to swamp myself with commercial work, and neglect making things that excite me – experimentation, drawing, making t-shirts, comics and zines. which has also led to neglecting myself on a personal level too – lack of exercise, living and working in cluttered spaces – an overall lack of keeping my mind, body and spirit happy.
i've also realised that humbler projects i've worked on touch an audience more then seeing an 'artwork' displayed in an exhibition. during fully booked last month, it was so great seeing people's reactions to some of the publications i've worked on, and hearing that they connect with what's being communicated. another event i worked on was a live drawing session during difc's 'art night' (an event i haven't attended in years) for a coffee shop called kava & chai that's recently opened a new location there. i had to draw customers who stopped for a taster at their coffee stand, and to my amazement, people loved getting free 3-5 minute a5 sized portraits of themselves. i drew a total of 61 portraits in 4 hours, of strangers queuing and willing to wait in line for a simple drawing of themselves. it was touching to see this simple gesture make all these people happy. and that's what i always want my work to be – accessible.
i think i'm also slightly frustrated with the art/cultural scene here and the abundance of mediocrity that's constantly being supported, be it through organisations or individuals that perpetuate lazy and uninspiring events and projects. i think i have a bigger problem with the idea that such events and activities are always considered a 'success' in the end, only because people always turn up, regardless of quality. but that's not how an event should be measured – the masses have a tendency to turn up to events because there's always something to do. that shouldn't allow for giving a pass to organisers hosting poor events, and participants to make frivolous works to showcase. and because no one says anything, it happens over and over again! i was personally disappointed with a couple of events that's happened between march and now – one with the reputation of being the 'fringe' art fair, and another catering to 'comic book/pop culture' aficionados. i think their quality and standard has deteriorated compared to how i remember it being before heading to grad school. seeing the positive support and praises, for both institutions/organisations and creatives without acknowledging their lack of quality, is really discouraging to see. it forces myself, including a lot of my peers, to disassociate ourselves from such cultural activities.
i'm not saying that everything going on here is bad. in fact, there's some great things happening on a regular basis, as well as some amazing talent making great work. but i think it's time to voice the problems so that it stops repeating itself. i wish there can be some way of having an open discussion about this – if anyone reading shares similar thoughts, or even disagrees with anything i've mentioned here – i for one would love to talk about it. i think organisations should start listening to critical feedback and show respect to proper talent that exists in our community. we all need to work together to fix problems from the ground up. and i have good faith that this is possible. it's not difficult, it just needs the right people doing it.

20.3.19

if speech is silver...

if speech is silver... . 2019 

if speech is silver... . 2019

if speech is silver... . 2019

if speech is silver... (detail) . 2019

if speech is silver... (detail) . 2019

if speech is silver... (detail) . 2019

i'm so excited to finally be posting about my latest textile project 'if speech is silver...'. as mentioned in my previous post, i am part of warehouse 421's current exhibition 'nomadic traces: journey of arabian scripts', in partnership with the khatt foundation
the exhibition '[...] reflects on the important role that scripts have played in defining and preserving the cultural identity of past and present civilizations, and on the migrational and transformative nature of writing and its ability to freely cross borders and cultures. the exhibition sheds light on the development of some of the key abjads (consonantal alphabets) of the middle east. it poetically links the past with the present, showing in particular the wealth of this region through its many scripts, including phoenician, aramaic, musnad, palmyrene, nabatean, and early arabic (jazm).'
the exhibition features extensive research about each of the above mentioned scripts, alongside newly commissioned artworks. i was invited by the exhibition curator dr. huda smitshuijzen abifarès to contribute towards the show with new textile pieces. this was my first major textile project since working on my thesis at risd last year. it was quite a challenge readapting to working with textiles and figuring out how to accommodate a textile based studio practise in dubai.
i think my favourite part about working on this project was the amount of research and new information i discovered prior to physically making these pieces. learning about each of the preceding scripts that led to modern day arabic – where they originated from, their functions and how they spread throughout the region – was extremely fascinating. i was also amazed at how the origins of the phonetics of modern day arabic letters comes from earlier scripts whose letters symbolically communicate the root words. e.g: the arabic letter ع comes from the root word for eye (عين) which in earlier scripts was represented as symbols referencing the shape of an eye. this research was what really drove the idea behind my project – i was really interested in looking at these letters as symbols. the selected scripts i chose to work with were musnad and aramaic, two scripts that mainly originated in modern day arabian/persian gulf and north africa.
furthermore, my research also entered the world of talismans. i was fascinated at how a lot of today's adorning designs on garments and textiles which we all find aesthetically pleasing, originate from a place of symbolic function. asymmetrical patterns, repetition, geometry, fringe, embroidery (specifically around the neck, wrists, and ankles), the use of specific colours (red, blue and silver, for their protective and healing properties), materials that are reflective – these are some of the talismanic devices adorning traditional garments and costumes, all used to deflect evil spirits and bad luck.
with all this exciting research, i wanted to reinterpret beliefs surrounding talismanic devices and the power of the written word, applying it onto a series of wearable textiles that once adorned, activate their protective powers. the three final textile pieces are comprised of a talismanic body wrap, shirt, and sarong. each item is adorned with ancient letters that reference talismanic symbols – the eye, fish, water, serpent, hand and plant – symbols that were used as motifs adorning textiles throughout history. combining screen-printing, dyeing and embroidery techniques, i hope i achieved creating textiles that's rich in content and mystical goodness! i'm really satisfied with how the final collection turned out.
a few thank you's are in order – thank you to huda for having me on board this really exciting exhibition. also, thank you to the warehouse 421 team for all their support throughout the process of making these pieces, and exhibiting them in the best way possible. a big thank you goes to mobius design studio and tashkeel, for providing me with space and facilities to work on these very lengthy textiles! a big thank you goes to the many friends that supported me on many stressful occasions (you know who you are). lastly, the biggest thanks of all goes to salama nasib – thank you for being there almost every week in the production phase of this project, for being there when i was stressed, for the extra hand with printing, for always being there to bounce off ideas, and for the company on many late night dinners. i'll never forget this.
'nomadic traces: journey of arabian scripts' runs until 28 july 2018. i hope everyone reading this gets a chance to check out the exhibition. trust me, it's really good. plus there's a great catalogue that goes with it which you must purchase at the warehouse 421 shop as a little treat for yourself!

ps – if anyone's wondering, the title of this post (and project) comes from the proverb 'if speech is silver, then silence is golden'.

12.3.19

fully booked

fully booked dubai art book fair . 2019

in more march madness news, i'm happy to announce my participation in this year's edition of the fully booked dubai art book fair. i missed the previous editions of the fair during my time in the united states, so i'm really looking forward to attending this year, as well as participating.
the actual book fair is scheduled for 21-23 march, at alserkal avenue, with programming beginning on the 18th. for complete details on programming, and the vendors list, head to the fully booked 2019 site. and if you're interested in checking out information on previous editions of the fair, head to their main page.
i'll be selling a selection of my existing publications and zines, including never forget, issues one and two of fade away & illustrate, we met on the dance floor, big city trails, capes make the man, and a few more goodies.
looking forward to seeing you all at fully booked!