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Uncovering Visages of 'Unveiling Visions'

Skedaddle your weak-tea arguments about the local art scene, in an exploratory look across the new heights of Maldivian artistry!

Lujine Rasheed
15 October 2018, MVT 10:56
Unveiling Visions 2018, an art exhibition hosted by Maldivian Artist Community at the National Art Gallery. IMAGE: LUJINE RASHEED / THE EDITION
Lujine Rasheed
15 October 2018, MVT 10:56

The 'Maldivian Artist Community' exhibited one of the most colourful annual displays to take place in the capital city Malé. Colourful, quite literally. An event that twined the creative and technique alike, it blew all art critiques' intuitive minds. An exhibition by the name of 'Unveiling Visions 2018'.

I'll walk you through my experience. Walk with me.

It was the first week of September when I was initially informed about 'Unveiling Visions' organized by Maldivian Artist Community. Lovingly referred to as MAC, this non-governmental organization acts as an 'art platform' which strives to colourize the hopes of aspiring artists of our city. 'Inspired to inspire' professes MAC. Words, indeed, to admire.

Official Promotional Poster on social media announcing Unveiling Visions 2018, an art exhibition hosted by Maldivian Artist Community at the National Art Gallery. PHOTO: MAC/ THE EDITION

And inspirational it was. Unveiling Visions, even prior to the commencement of its five day exhibition, boasted a number of artists set to be participating in the display via social media. A veritable 'who's who' of the sporadic surges of creative talent that Malé conducts.

On the night of heading to the National Art Gallery where the exhibition was held, I gussied up to the maximum ability of my closet, not wanting to be out of place. Believe it or not, perusing art exhibitions comes with its own constraints of vanity and self-consciousness to any subscriber of such a pastime.

Approaching the Gallery, the main gate opened to a zappy promotional canvas for 'Unveiling Visions 2018'. Surely, the organizers wanted no passers-by to miss the opportunity to experience local art.

Entering the gallery I turned to my right, trying to look for the ticket stand. Slightly blinded by the amount of white inside the gallery, I managed to locate the ticket valet who accordingly made me MVR 30 poorer.

The National Art Gallery housed ample space for any displays of sorts and gave way to excellent circulation paths. While it is nowhere near being a basilica, it is perhaps one of the more spacious galleries that Malé offered.

Not eastward of the hall, with ease, stood easels catering to 'live-art' to be carried out by participating artists and visiting guests. Unfortunately, at the time of my entrance, nearly all easels were barren. No matter, I was sanguine that I would get to experience at least a snippet of the live-art-in-action before I left the salon.

Observers checking out the live painting sessions at Unveiling Visions 2018, an art exhibition hosted by Maldivian Artist Community at the National Art Gallery. PHOTO: LUJINE RASHEED / THE EDITION

Prior to getting started with the artwork on display, I lifted the peak of my baseball cap in an effort to read the room. The salon swarmed with artful panjandrums. You know? The royalty, nobility and the gentry of the local art scene. Save for of course a handful of average Ahmeds, such as myself.

Kurahaa Rappe engages with attendees at an art exhibition hosted by Maldivian Artist Community at the National Art Gallery. PHOTO: MIHAARU

Once I began my intuitive monologue with the gloriously hung artwork, I was immediately captivated. I spent the next hour or so going through the works of the extremely creative local artists.

The artworks were, indeed, a glorious experience! Some of the works included a vibrant painting of a local tale by Shimanie Shareef. A spread of an exquisite motif painted by artist ‘Gulsampa’. A poetic illustration by ‘Lahu’. A stunning depiction of patriotism by ‘Shaffoceans’. And of course, a grand entry by ‘Kurahaa Raappe’.

'Kulhavahfalu Ranin' by Shimanie Shareef, featured at Unveiling Visions. PHOTO: MIHAARU
'Efflorescence' by Maisha Yoosuf, featured at Unveiling Visions. PHOTO: MIHAARU
'Querencia' by Hawwa Lahufa featured at Unveiling Visions. PHOTO: MIHAARU
Kurahaa Rappe exhibiting his signature painting style at Unveiling Visions. PHOTO: MIHAARU

Having leafed through the entire exhibition, I turned my focus to one of the most renowned Maldivian artists in the entire hall, Ahmed Shaffan. Popularly known by his artistic moniker Shaffoceans, he is one of the founding members of the Maldivian Artist Community.

After due greetings, I questioned him about his ‘patriotic’ piece titled 'ahuren...!', which he was kind enough to decipher to me, in addition to the statement “Positive change is the betterment of future” which was attached to the artwork.

'Ahuren...' by Ahmed Shaffan also known as ShaffOceans, featured at Unveiling Visions. PHOTO: MIHAARU

Having accumulated noteworthy keenness about the exhibition, I questioned him about MAC's preparation and work that went into presenting such a well-curated, exceptional exhibition to the public.

Shaffan, the vice chairperson of MAC, called out to two other men who enthusiastically approached us and to whom I was introduced to immediately. Turned out, they were Hussain Ihfal the General Secretary and Hussain Atheek the Treasurer of MAC, who were the other main pillars of the community.

Without any fracas or ruckus, I found myself ‘tickety-boo’ and in the presence of the three telamons of Maldivian Artist Community. I knew I had my moment to mince all meticulous mastery that marinated the fruitful biennale.

I first posed the question about MAC's selection of artists for this year's 'Unveiling Visions'.

The community described their choice to be based on all artists' previous works. Three months prior to the exhibition, as the community let me know, willing participants were required to submit their application forms to the community. Only 50 exceptional candidates were chosen from the 120 application form labyrinthine, out of which six pulled out the last minute, 'unveiling' the 42 that made their way to the gallery.

Observers at Unveiling Visions 2018, an art exhibition hosted by Maldivian Artist Community at the National Art Gallery. PHOTO: MIHAARU

Next, I turned my attention to the categories they looked for when accepting art to the exhibition. Categories that MAC looked to give '10's 10's 10's across the board'.

Answering near unison, the community explained the six exciting categories they based their admission of art. Which were Drawings, Paintings, Digital Art, Sculptures, Installations and Calligraphy.

The trio pointed out having received the largest number of submissions in the category 'Paintings', and delightfully highlighted an increase in the number of ‘Digital Art’ pieces compared to the year before. However, they also mentioned facing a contrasting number of admissions in the categories 'Sculptures', 'Installations' and 'Calligraphy'.

Observers at Unveiling Visions 2018, an art exhibition hosted by Maldivian Artist Community at the National Art Gallery. PHOTO: MIHAARU

Parting ways, I touched lightly on my heightened curiosity about the members of the MAC and the advantages of belonging to the pack.

The community deemed the biggest advantages of being a member of MAC as the arrangement of solo exhibitions for up and coming artists attached to the community. They professed a total of 36 solo exhibitions held to date at numerous venues, which included National Art Gallery, LeCute and Hotel Jen. Two additional venues: Kandima Maldives and Avahteri Gallery, are in talks to becoming regular spaces for MAC to collaborate with.

Additionally, the three artists spoke about their prospective efforts aiming to further encourage the brewing talent for art in the Maldives by carrying out workshops, art camps and hopefully even send artists overseas for international exhibitions in the future.

With that I ended our little chat, thanking them for their time and their effort of promoting art in the way that is unique to them.

As I headed to the exit, I spied something with my two little eyes. Something beginning with artists in action and easels occupied! The live-art corner was brewing with colorful paint brushes and painters. I watched with enthusiasm as the talented pack transformed empty canvases to what looked like adequate art. More than adequate, in fact. To me, they looked like masterpieces. MAC’s decision to supply a corner as such was a brilliant idea, as the average Ahmed’s experience at the exhibition boosted five-day because of it.

With a smile on face due to the joy of witnessing live-art, I exited the gallery.

Observers at Unveiling Visions 2018, an art exhibition hosted by Maldivian Artist Community at the National Art Gallery. PHOTO: MIHAARU

Art exhibitions are important to any city. Exhibitions like these make Malé a brighter place and bring people closer to art and addition. I too have expressed myself earnestly in writing this piece, and the importance of this feat, hopefully, is not lost on me either.

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