DUBAI: British artist Sacha Jafri unveiled his latest exhibition, “The Art Maze,” on the Burj Al-Arab Jumeirah helipad in Dubai on Wednesday.
The exhibition, a partnership with art curator and architect Marcus Schaefer, features 30 oil and acrylic works celebrating the 50th anniversary of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site program.
Jafri began preparations for the exhibition six months ago before turning out the artworks over a six-week period.
“It has been the hardest six months of my life. Yesterday, I painted 28 hours without stopping. No food, no water, nothing. I was like a walking ghost,” he told a press conference.
Jafri said that the exhibition was a personal dream that he had nurtured since starting to paint at the age of 12.
The artist recalled his mother taking him to visit World Heritage sites when he was a child.
“It was not something I enjoyed very much if I’m being honest,” he said. “But mom did that for me — and later in my life I realized why. It’s something very important and something that children are not getting today.”
He added: “I am a father of two girls and am worried about the next generation. I’m worried for our planet. I’m worried for the sustainability and for the education.”
Jafri said that after spending six months last year completing his “The Journey of Humanity” — an artwork that broke the Guinness World Record for largest art canvas — charity organizations had told him that artists now are linking their work to a charitable cause or “doing something for humanity.”
“I believe that as humanity, we have become incredibly disconnected, leading up to COVID-19. The pandemic hit and something changed and we had an opportunity. A lot of sadness, a lot of lost lives, but an opportunity,” he said.
“There was change at this moment, but sadly this window has closed and we have gone back to our ways 10 times worse.”
Jafri said that he saw his latest project as an opportunity to explore an important topic: How can we reconnect humanity?
“I tried to do it with ‘The Journey of Humanity.’ I’ve tried to do it all my life and it will be my mission for the next 60 years through my art,” he said.
“This project is an opportunity to shed light on our history, and what better way than as custodians of our heritage?
“If we can pay homage to those sites, bring them to life in an art maze on the Burj Al-Arab Jumeirah helipad — that’s a lot of eyes on something very special. Hopefully, it will shine a light on that issue and bring those sites to life for children and adults.”
The exhibition is open to all until March 27 on reservation before touring global centers for two years.
Jafri plans to create 20 additional paintings for the Paris show, which will run from Sept.12-18.
Ermanno Zanini, regional vice president and general manager at Burj Al-Arab, said: “I believe art enriches the soul, and can create transformational and intimate experiences.
“Through our collaboration with Schaefer and Jafri, we are giving guests the chance to be part of the captivating history of Burj Al-Arab and discover a one-of-a-kind exhibition in a unique setting.”
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