After contemplating changing her corporate life for the art world — a decision that took a year — Emirati artist Budour Al Ali has finally arrived as an artist in practice. "I find that the corporate world kills creativity," she said. "I felt I was at the wrong place and I needed a break from that life for a few months to better structure my art life and gallery."
It's a move most people never make but talent and belief has made Budour's breakthough a success and, it seems, she has both qualities by the bucketload. Here Buro 24/7 speaks to the emerging artist about her career at the easel.
What kind of artist do you consider yourself to be?
Extraordinary! My creative motto is to see the unusual and to do the unusual. I try not to step into the same river twice. With arts, I try to experiment. Every time I paint in a style, I try to change and improve on it. I open myself to exploration and learning.
What inspires you?
To receive visions and inspirations, I sit in a quiet place in my studio, shutting myself off from the search for pleasure, from challenges and revelations, and I allow my gift to reveal itself. In the silence of my heart, I hear an order that guides me. I act, but allow room for the Universe to act too.
You once said: "Through my art, I am trying to empower Muslim women and showcase their dignity." How do you achieve this?
I project this positive image in the UAE, to all Muslim countries and to the rest of the world. The aim is to dignify the role of women in the Arab society and highlight, through art and cultural interchange, the positive values from the Muslim world to society. I try to blend the treasures of two cultures (East and West) and in doing so create a new tradition in arts.
In your opinion, how can art bring about positive change to any culture, in particular the Middle East?
Art certainly is an expressive way that touches the soul at deeper levels in a way that is inspirational and transformational.
Art talks to feelings and thoughts. It brings about and reminds us of values like unity, co-operation, beauty, freedom and equality.
In terms of regional artists, do you think they're on par with global counterparts and is there more that can be done to help artists in the region?
The cultural infrastructure in Abu Dhabi has improved and now offers opportunities for many young artists, but more efforts are needed to give local artists the boost they deserve. Abu Dhabi has produced a lot more artists in recent years. When their works mature, there will be more opportunities for them. But whether you can succeed depends on the quality of your work, and of course, your luck. With new movements in Abu Dhabi, the entire city is a work of art, and everyone is an artist.
What do you hope the viewers gain from your works?
My country has a fascinating culture; from the sand to the sky. This influences my paintings. With arts, I would like to keep behind me a legacy for my family and people of my land. I like to give back to my country through arts, and through showing its rich culture and heritage to the rest of the world. I feel endless possibilities await me. My dreams are attained due to the strong will that I have and my enormous capacity for acceptance. I hope viewers feel, reflect and collect.
You also like to mix art with music. Tell us about that...
Music is another form of art and I am trying to combine both in a unique way that moves and inspires. In my last exhibition in September, I painted a live painting with an amateur opera singer who performed as Adele in the operetta, 'Die Fledermaus'. I'm also going to try to mix music and arts in all my upcoming exhibitions. That's how, through unity, we create sweet magical moments and memories.
What are your upcoming projects?
I have a year-long exhibition on display at the lobby lounge of Jannah Burj Al Sarab, the new five-star hotel in Abu Dhabi where the collections will be updated every quarter. I will have a unique solo exhibition on October 26 at Emirates Palace before exhibitions in Morocco from October 27-November 4 and new art initiatives in Casablanca, Rabat and Marrakesh. There will be another solo exhibition on November 7 under the patronage of Al Bayt Mitwahid Association followed by one on November 30 as a tribute to UAE soldiers in Yemen.
Then by the end of November, I will be launching my online gallery too. Through this I am giving the entire globe a chance to check out my art and purchase it. I am setting up my first international branch in Casablanca in Morocco. I have an art gallery in Raha Gardens in Abu Dhabi, where all my artwork is exhibited and is available for purchase.