How UAE Mars Mission inspired this Dubai-based artist to devise a new form of painting
Akbar first uses eight layers of oil paints on a canvas to give it a look of an old, cracked wall.
Back in 2014 when the UAE's Mars Mission was initiated, Dubai resident and artist Akbar Saheb, 55, was so deeply inspired by it that he decided to give up his old style and toyed with the idea of devising a new painting technique.
A series of trials and experiments over five years - during which he tried his hand at 45 novel paintings - made him carve out the nuances, until he arrived at the final craft. And the first painting using the "distinctive technique" that he unveiled captured the historic launch of the Hope Probe on July 20 this year.
In this unique form of painting which he claims is one-of-its-kind in the world, Akbar first uses eight layers of oil paints on a canvas to give it a look of an old, cracked wall. He uses this as backdrop. The impression it gives is that of a wall being chipped to unveil the painting hidden beneath the layers.
The self-taught Indian artist, who has been staying in the UAE since 1996 and painted some thousand paintings in the last 25 years, said the UAE's Mars initiative made a strong impact on his mind. "I thought I could also reach the sky with the flight of my imagination. After a lot of innovations with the new style over a passage of time, I started working on Hope Probe painting in April this year, three months before its launch."
The painting depicts the moment when the Hope Probe blasted off, and also shows a map of the UAE with multi-coloured dots representing people of different nationalities living in the country.
"For me canvas is a wall, and whatever I have in my mind I create by chipping out pieces from the wall. I have also painted a colourful window with Arabic architecture, representing the UAE."
Akbar, who hails from Udipi in the Indian state of Karnataka, said he unlearned and gave up his 25-year-old painting style and invented a distinctive form so "people could immediately associate it without having to look at the signature on the canvas".
"The journey of creating this individuality and uniqueness as an artist has been evolving," he said.
"Through many years of experimentation and growth, I have coined a name for my newfound painting style 'Depthism', which is derived from the word depth, hinting at the distance from the top or surface to the bottom of something. The quality of being intense or extreme."
Talking about why he chose this particular style of painting, Akbar said: "Reading through many different art techniques, I decided to give my technique a name which will be easier to relate to my paintings done with the wall chipping modern style - revealing the hidden gem within the wall. My new modern style of paintings visually merges with the 'wall' making it difficult to read with the eye while involving a deep meaning within the painting. I created this style to play with the visual aspects while trying to portray my message."
The prolific painter has been acknowledged and recognised at various forums for his artworks over the years. Some of his famous creations include series of paintings celebrating the life of UAE's founding father Sheikh Zayed. His other notable works are tributes to the rulers of Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah, as well as international leaders such as former US President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
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