Saeed Al Madani, Printmaking, Abraaj RCA Innovation Scholar 2016 – 2018
Saeed Al Madani is a self-taught mixed-media artist from the United Arab Emirates.
Saeed’s approach to his work is firmly rooted in his home culture, focusing on the symbolic language in printmaking to express the UAE identity, culture and tradition. Through his work, he is also interested in exploring what it means to be living in a rapidly developing country heading toward cultural homogenization at a faster pace than many other developing nations.
He hopes that studying Printmaking at the RCA will enable him to develop a formal understanding of artistic tastes and techniques. He is also keen to experiment with combining the mechanical and the hand-made to create unique, sensorial works.
Saeed wishes to bring the traditional and technological sophistication acquired through a graduate arts education back into his home culture, and to take an active role in developing the UAE arts scene.
In Conversation with Saeed
Q: Tell us about your work.
A: I am a self-taught mixed media artist from Dubai holding a Bachelor’s degree from the Higher Colleges of Technology. In 2014, I completed the Salama bint Hamdan Emerging Artist Fellowship in partnership with the Rhode Island School of Design.
I work across illustration, painting, photography and printmaking to create work that combines the hand-made and the mechanical, to challenge traditional image making and create a new language of expression that supports the substance of my practice. I’ve been working with printmaking techniques and photographic processes throughout the first year of the MA. I’m excited to continue this exploration to further develop my skillset to explore different mediums, materials and techniques.
Q: What are you inspired by, and how does culture play a role in your creative process?
A: I am inspired by spaces contained within the urban landscape, and how they influence and shape self and identity. My artistic practice began organically over a decade ago, to fulfill a desire to promote my identity in a world that I perceived was headed towards cultural homogeneity. In my work, I combine elements of my heritage and contemporary culture in new, innovative ways; highlighting iconography that is unique to the UAE.
Q: You mentioned the urban landscape…can you describe how that influences your art?
A: My practice shifted recently, and now responds to time, space and daily encounters. It is driven by a strong sense of identity and nationhood; nurtured by technological, architectural and cultural developments that have shaped the UAE today. These changes as well as my recent move to London have heightened my sensitivity to ‘place’, and have also evolved the way I see and experience spaces today. I have therefore refocused my attention to the multiplicity and diversity of spaces that are much closer to hand, and have investigated the environment around me to produce work that tackle the sense of place and notions of home.
Q: How has the diversity within the Abraaj-RCA scholars’ community helped you?
A: The diversity within the Abraaj-RCA scholars’ community provides me with opportunities for cross-discipline collaboration and better understanding of my practice via continued discussions and awareness of matters impacting different parts of the world.