TOAD catches up with the abstract artist Amira Rahim and her whimsical ways.
Known for her flamboyant artworks, Amira Rahim is a contemporary artist who works from her home studio in Abu Dhabi, which she moved into in 2013. We catch up with the colour conductor for a quick Q&A session.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m 25 and I was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey, an urban melting pot and birthplace of many creative talents. I came to Abu Dhabi shortly after I got married, as my husband’s work is here.
What influences your artistic talent?
I was always influenced by the bold and unique styles of Picasso and impressionist painters such as Van Gogh and Monet. I love how they used colour and expressive brushstrokes However, I only realised I’d found my calling after I started digging deeper into the abstract expressionist movement. The artists’ brave, unapologetic way of making art really spoke to me. I also admire the many outspoken female artists that paved the way for me, including Frida Kahlo, Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Miller and Georgia O’Keeffe. Today, I continue to be inspired by contemporary abstract artists such as Jeanne Bessette, Claire Desjardins and Ali McNabey-Stevens. They are such brave, bold painters. I am also inspired by colour, textiles, fashion, photography and nature. I am always looking for colours that lift my spirit.
Did you study art?
No. I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2009, where I had the pleasure of learning Portuguese and studying abroad for nearly half of my time there. I travelled to Brazil and later studied in Europe. I initially planned to go to law school, but then I started travelling more, and my major, Sociology, really unraveled me as a person. I think it gave me the critical eye to examine myself and my position in society. It was a great course to study and I had some amazing professors.
Can you talk us through your artistic process?
I usually paint every day. I start early in the morning after a cup of tea or coffee, when my energy is high. I consider myself an intuitive painter, so when I enter the studio I really have no idea what I’ll end up with when I walk out. Often my process starts days, weeks even, before I reach the easel. I store my reactions to random colours for a period of time until I feel I have gathered enough inspiration to paint. Once I reach my canvas, the colours take over and I respond to what’s in front of me. I usually work without references for my abstract paintings. For my camels and other subjects, I inject as much colour as possible into a piece without making it incohesive. It’s a challenging but fun balance. At the moment, I am working on building a portfolio of large, high-energy abstract paintings with lots of texture and colour, with some suggestions of figures. It will take several months to create, but I am so excited to finally put my ideas onto canvases.
Do you have a preferred medium?
I love the versatility of acrylic paints. I started out painting in oils, and still love the texture oil paint achieves. But acrylics gave me the flexibility I needed to express myself and work freely on a piece. I never planned on painting in the colourful abstract manner that I do today, but once I moved to Abu Dhabi, I felt that I needed more colour in my life – I craved colour.
Why do you like being an artist so much?
As a Muslim American and woman of faith, I have to say, the best part of my job is connecting with people from all over the world, who come from different backgrounds. I love how art unites us and speaks to the deeper meaning of humanity. I am thankful for the art lovers and collectors who have purchased my original pieces and continue to support my work in its early stages. It’s a wonderful feeling, and I truly love sharing a piece of myself with the world each day.
Pieces start from Dhs220. Email email@example.com www.amirarahim.com (050 622 1556).