Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz mixes maths with art

Updated 17 November 2019

Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz mixes maths with art

  • Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz is set to unveil her latest mathematics-inspired piece for the UAE’s Al-Burda Endowment exhibition
  • The Al-Burda Endowment exhibition will showcase the work of 10 selected artists awarded the grant in 2018

DUBAI: Contemporary Emirati artist Ebtisam Abdulaziz is set to unveil her latest mathematics-inspired piece for the UAE’s Al-Burda Endowment exhibition — organized by the UAE Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development — on Nov. 21.

Abdulaziz, who often explores issues of identity and culture through her work, spoke to Arab News about her latest project and her path toward becoming an artist.

“Unfortunately, when I finished high school, I couldn’t get the chance to study art since there were no art colleges in the UAE. I decided to get a degree in mathematics because it is an interesting subject to me, as I believe art and maths are connected with each other,” the artist, whose work was exhibited as part of the UAE Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, said.




Abdulaziz, who often explores issues of identity and culture through her work, spoke to Arab News about her latest project and her path toward becoming an artist. Supplied

In 1999, she kicked off a career in the arts and hasn’t looked back since. The artist works in a variety of mediums, including installations, performance pieces and works on paper, all of which explore “human nature, culture, religion… and the workings of the human brain,” according to the artist.

“There is a connection between art and maths,” she added, explaining the link between her two passions. “I merged the two parts of my brain to get ideas and (build on this) mixture between art and maths.”

 The Al-Burda Endowment exhibition will showcase the work of 10 selected artists awarded the grant in 2018 and Abdulaziz is particularly excited about her new piece.




The artist works in a variety of mediums, including installations, performance pieces and works on paper. Supplied

“My piece for Al-Burda is a dream come true. I had this idea of making a huge installation work that involves maths, geometry and Islamic patterns. The idea… started from just a sketch… to a big acrylic painting on canvas and now it has become a 3-D work.”

The optical illusion-style work is almost trippy to look at due to its accordion-style surface and multitude of bright, block-printed colors and that boldness is also visible in her advice to budding Emirati artists.

“My advice to them is to go for it, think big, go crazy with your art. It is who you are, it is your way to express yourself,” she said.


Sole DXB highlights: Melody Ehsani’s latest sneaker collaboration inspired by Egypt

Streetwear designer Melody Ehsani takes inspiration from Egypt for latest sneaker collaboration. Supplied
Updated 07 December 2019

Sole DXB highlights: Melody Ehsani’s latest sneaker collaboration inspired by Egypt

  • Los Angeles-based Melody Ehsani recently debuted her hotly-anticipated Air Jordan 1 sneaker in collaboration with Nike
  • The recently-debuted sneaker was inspired by a recent trip to Egypt in March

DUBAI: In recent years, the market for women's streetwear has grown, however, the category is still largely dominated by the male market, as well as male designers. But one designer hoping to change that is Los Angeles-based Melody Ehsani, who recently debuted her hotly-anticipated Air Jordan 1 sneaker in collaboration with Nike.

The streetwear designer, who is of Iranian descent, is the latest woman to collaborate on an Air Jordan sneaker, and one the first women to design a shoe for the Nike-owned brand, alongside the likes of Aleali May, a stylist and model who was the first person to create a unisex Jordan Brand shoe.

As part of the brand’s “Fearless Ones” holiday collection, the shoe boasts an eye-catching detail — a removable gold watch set to the time 2:30, a nod to the basketball legend Michael Jordan. But the iconic basketball player isn’t the only one that Ehsani decided to honor in her collaboration.

In fact, the sneaker was inspired by a recent trip to Egypt, when the law-student-turned-designer accompanied her husband, Red Hot Chilli Pepper bassist Flea, during the band’s unforgettable performance in Giza in March.

The shoe boasts an eye-catching detail — a removable gold watch set to the time 2:30, a nod to the basketball legend Michael Jordan. Supplied

“The pyramids are the most obvious inspiration,“ Ehsani shared with Arab News. “I know it sounds cliché, but once you are there and you realize what the actual scale of them is it’s incredible. Those stones look so small in photographs, but in reality each of them is several stories tall,” she mused.

“Just being in the presence of them made me feel so insignificant and served as a reminder that the world is so much bigger than us,” she added.

Ehsani, who visited Egypt for the first time several years ago, reveals that her second trip to the North African nation was a very special experience.  "I had gone seven years earlier and there were a million tourists, but this time I went with my husband and we got to go on private tours of the pyramids and it was a different and very special vibe.”

Meanwhile, the footwear’s multi-colored red, pink, orange, green and blue panelway was actually inspired by her rainbow manicure during the trip.

Additional details include a hand-written message in marker on the midsole that reads, “If you knew what you had was rare, you would never waste it,” a piece of advice she’d gotten from one of her best friends.

Additional details include a hand-written message in marker on the midsole that reads, “If you knew what you had was rare, you would never waste it.” Supplied

“I was so inspired by that quote that I just wanted to share it with the world,” revealed Ehsani. “Whenever I come across something that’s really inspiring to me, I tend to use my products as a platform to share that information.”

Before the sneakers were released, they had already had a resale price worth $480. To put that into perspective, the original retail price was $130. The high demand served as proof that there is a great market for women who love sneakers, and it’s finally starting to get acknowledged. 

 “Growing up, there was so many things I wanted that just didn’t exist, and shoes were a part of them,” she stated. “A lot of times I had to buy kid’s sizes or the stuff that’s available to women always feels like an afterthought. There’s a whole ‘shrink it and pink it’ phenomenon when it comes to women’s footwear.”

However, the accessories designer is hopeful. “But what’s really great is that since I started eleven years ago, there’s been a dramatic shift in that people are finally starting to identify that there’s a problem. It’s almost like we were asleep on the couch, but now we’ve woken up.”

The sought after footwear, which debuted on Nov. 15, is available for purchase at Dubai’s premiere streetwear festival Sole DXB, which wraps up on Dec. 7.