Zeinab Alhashemi Courtesy the artist/Louvre Abu Dhabi
Ten artists from across the Gulf have been nominated for the second Richard Mille Art Prize. The full list can be found here.
Work by the artists is on show at Louvre Abu Dhabi until 19 March and the winner will be announced 20 March.
People are always curious to discover what the soft, brown surface of Zeinab Alhashemi’s Camouflage series of sculptures is made from. It is camel skin, an unusual material which, she says, “introduces the idea of commodity, the history of the camels and the culture of the camel breeders into the contemporary art scene.”
Previous works in the series have been installed in dramatic locations: in the Saudi Arabian desert at AlUla and in front of the pyramids in Egypt. There the camel hide blends into the landscape—and may even be met by a passing beast of burden—but in the Louvre Abu Dhabi it stands out starkly. In the commission for the pyramids, Alhashemi created a wireframe obelisk only partly covered by hide, a reference to the obelisk in Aswan which cracked as it was being carved and was left unfinished. At the Louvre, she has made a similarly incomplete column, The Fourth Pillar, matching those holding up the gallery, a jarring combination of man-made and natural.
Born in the UAE in 1988, Alhashemi lives and works in Dubai. Like many artists of her generation she has been inspired by the hectic change in the region. She has “acquired an interest for everything industrial”, subsuming the materials, colour palette and techniques of construction into her practice.
Zeinab Alhashemi's Camouflage: The Fourth Pillar (2022) at Louvre Abu Dhabi
Photo: Augustine Paredes – Seeing Things. Courtesy Department of Culture and Tourism, Abu Dhabi. Artwork © the artist
Alhashemi did not consider becoming an artist until a car accident left her unable to work. She had always been creative but associated it with drawing and painting: an encounter with conceptual art validated her desire to create works on a larger scale that did not need to be handmade. She now uses multiple media in her installations, often requiring them to be made by several workshops. A previous work exhibited at the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Metamorphic (2018), combined layers of reinforced metal mesh with delicate squares of stained glass.