Watch: Dubai-based Egyptian artist highlights women’s issues in her works


Dubai: From the use of tissue papers, nail polish and tea bags, Dubai-based artist Samar Kamel has her own unique ways of delivering a message to the wider community.

The Egyptian artist who moved to Dubai 30 years ago with her husband, is the author of two published works and curator of World Art Dubai (WAD). She said she was sitting in her studio, enjoying a cup of tea, when the idea of ​​using tea bags for her paintings struck her.

“The tea bag was torn. I held it up to the sun and was mesmerized by the color. After it dried, I used it on my canvas and loved the effect. I discovered it by chance,” said Kamel Gulf News in his studio. She thinks all artists like to use whatever they can on their work to express themselves or to send a message to the world.

A painting by Samar Kamel.
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“I love using mixed media in my work, so I use fabric, newspaper, nail polish, tissue paper and even tea bags, which have now become my signature technique,” ​​said she declared.

As an author, Kamel is known for her work that examines cultural attitudes towards women and aims to transform stereotypes through vibrant depictions of the modern woman. She grew up around painting and colors because her late father was an artist.

“I chose to study literature and not art because I have loved writing since I was a child. I remember I used to write stories and draw the scenes and make mini booklets out of them. Recalling those memories now, it feels like my childhood was an extension of my current life,” Kamel added.

She has used her talent as a tool to highlight social issues that need to be tackled. She was nominated for the Emirates Women for Arts and Culture award. She believes she may have been nominated for the award for organizing charity auctions to raise money to help marginalized members of society and women who are in prison in Cairo due to unpaid debts. “I strongly believe that art itself is a message,” she said.

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Kamel sees women as characters on many levels and she always tries to dive deep into their emotions and thoughts and portray them on canvas.
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

World Art Dubai

World Art Dubai is the region’s largest and most diverse international affordable art fair. Kamel said the March event was her fourth year as a curator.

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Artist Samar Kamel at work. She notably spotlighted Arab women in her books and subtly portrayed their struggles in her paintings.
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

“It brings together many nationalities, allowing them to interact and discover different types of arts and cultures. Without artistic boundaries, artists are free to introduce new perspectives,” she said. “World Art Dubai reflects the diversity of the region,” she said.

She added that over the past 15 years, the UAE has become the “art center” in the Gulf and it is a great example of the nation’s support for art and artists. No wonder many artists from the United Arab Emirates have been awarded the Golden Visa. “With many artists deciding to settle in the UAE, the UAE has started to shine as a beacon of art. Art in the emirates has moved from local to global,” she added.

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According to Samar Kamel, over the past 15 years, the UAE has become the “artistic hub” of the Gulf.
Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Why are women at the center of Kamel’s creations?

Kamel sees women as characters on many levels and she always tries to dive deep into their emotions and thoughts and portray them on canvas. “Women’s issues are as important as economic or political issues. As an artist, if I witness a problem in my society that needs to be highlighted, why not address it,” she said. “The women in my books and paintings are not second-class citizens. Even though I describe the struggles and challenges that women in the East face, they are always portrayed as reflecting their strengths,” Kamel explained. She notably spotlighted Arab women in her books and subtly portrayed their struggles in her paintings.

The rich repertoire of Samar Kamel

With over 70 international art exhibitions and art fairs around the world, Kamel has exhibited his works in China, Oxford, Amsterdam, Barcelona, ​​Tokyo, Egypt, USA, Italy, in Brazil, Belgium and all of the United Arab Emirates.

After obtaining his certification as a curator from the Sotheby’s Institute of Art, Kamel was entrusted with the role of curator of World Art Dubai in 2019.

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