THE IDEAL FRIDAY
Unfortunately, with the hectic life I’m leading many Fridays become just another working day full of clients’ admin work, quotations and invoices. However, my perfect Friday would be breakfast in Marina by the water, chilling by the beach or the pool and sketching just for the sake of it, then a nice dinner out with friends followed by going to the movies.
SO LONG, SYRIA
I’m half Syrian and half Russian; I was born in Moscow and was raised in Syria. I used to spend my summers in Russia. After the situation in Syria deteriorated in late 2012, I had to leave and relocate to Dubai to work as an art director in an advertising agency before I became a full-time artist.
Encouraged by my mum, I have been drawing and painting since I was very little. I was a hyperactive kid and the only thing that could make me stick to a chair was a pencil and a blank piece of paper. My earliest memory is of my first painting when I was two years old. It was a bunch of overlapping circles and I called it ‘Batata’ – potato in Arabic. Growing up, my passion for art also grew and I studied Visual Communications in Damascus University of Fine Arts. Then I started creating murals here in Dubai.
Whenever I have time I travel. I’m actually travelling to New York this weekend to paint and I’m super excited about it. I think the only thing I splurge on is travelling – the US visit will probably cost me a hefty sum. My bucket-list travel destinations are Cambodia, Cuba, Brazil, Japan and Australia.
SEE THE PAINTINGS ON THE WALL
I like to call myself a visual artist on a never-ending journey of experimenting with different mediums and spaces. However, I specially adore public art because I believe that by working to create expressive and beautiful pieces in public spaces, I’m giving the community of that space something that they can call it their own & they can access every day. That’s why I always try to incorporate elements form the surrounding environment in my murals. Also I personally get a pure joy and a feeling of freedom and liberation when I paint on public walls.
DON’T HAVE A COW
I also like cooking and watching documentaries. I would say the documentary file Cowspiracy was one of the reasons that made me consider adopting a vegan lifestyle. I like cooking but I also like eating out, I love Arabic cuisine – the vegan version of each dish – I also like Asian food. I have many favourite restaurants in Dubai; one of them is Ding Tai Fung in MOE. I just don’t get bored of it and they have so many vegan-friendly options.
TALK TO ME
I talk to myself a lot when I’m alone, it’s just a silly habit I have. Sometimes when I get busted doing that, in a lift for example, people think I’m crazy.
WORK OF ART
The mural I did in China last year was a bit challenging, we weren’t able to work during the day because the humidity level was insanely high (much higher than Dubai) but it was one of the coolest places I painted in – in the middle of the mountains and lakes, in an amazing place called Dragon Tiger Mountain or Mount Longhu. Another mural I did in San Francisco was hard mainly because I had to paint a 16m wall with an injured knee. When I finished my first big wall in Cairo it was a very proud moment.
If I had a time machine, I would go back to New York during the fifties to have a chat with Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali. Andy Warhol and his work were an inspiration for me and had influence on my style when I started. That said, I also seek inspiration in different cultures, fabrics and elements from nature.
I’m not too attached to material things but I love my snow globe collection! And I would say my paintings are the most precious things to me.
I think all colours together are happiness, one colour is not enough [to express that emotion].
I Wish I Was A Punk Rocker by Sandi Thom is the song that’s currently stuck in my head.
I’d like to be remembered by my work and I hope to leave behind meaningful art that will inspire people for generations to come.
YES, YOU (SPRAY) CAN
Thanks to paint stains, I’ve had to get rid of more clothes than I can count. I have a full drawer of painting outfits and you can notice drips and paint marks on many of my shoes. It’s inevitable! Handling spray cans could be tough at first but in time you’ll know the needed pressure and hand technique to minimize the mess as [much as] possible.