Captivated by colour

We meet Abu Dhabi artist Amira Rahim and her whimsical ways


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 (050 622 1556).

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