Dubai-based Filipino visual artist Ely Graf has been commissioned to design and create “From the Heart of Zayed,” in honor of the founding father of the United Arab Emirates.
“From the Heart of Zayed,” was commissioned by Emirates Group to pay homage and celebrate the legacy of the late UAE founder His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who continues to inspire present generation of Emiratis.
Emirates Group chairman and chief executive officer HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum led the unveiling of the specially commissioned piece. It will be on permanent display in the atrium of Emirates Group Headquarters, and is part of a number of initiatives done this year to celebrate the “Year of Zayed.”
“From the Heart of Zayed” is composed of three elements. The first element establishes the face of HH Sheikh Zayed, father of the Emirati nation, gazing firmly to the future. His golden bisht, a traditional Emirati garb, symbolizes honor and nobility, and follows the outline of the UAE map, which he united. Dubai is highlighted by Emirates’ aircraft and extensive network that connects the world, all flowing out of his bisht.
The art piece features a variety of techniques and materials to portray HH Sheikh Zayed. Graf used acrylic paint on stretched canvas. It took him 20 days to complete the artwork.
Its color palette was inspired by a spectrum of the earthy tones found throughout the UAE, complemented by the use of gold leaf symbolizing the regal embroidery that accents the traditional Emirati bishts.
Graf is a well-known Filipino artist who has been living in Dubai for the past 10 years. He is known for taking inspiration from architecture and futuristic developments of the UAE.
Further, he has conceptualized and has been behind numerous artistic works in Dubai such as HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s book cover for The Journey, along with 12 illustrations of Sheikh Zayed and Sheikh Mohammed within the book. He was also commissioned to create the UAE Ministry of Education’s 2018 curriculum book covers.
The Filipino artist is one of the many Pinoy talents who have been making a name for themselves while contributing to the Dubai art scene. Graf joins the likes of Nathaniel Alapide, who is known for his intricate sand art, as well as fashion designers Michael Cinco, Ezra Santos, and Furne One, who have been designing fashion pieces for some of the biggest names in Hollywood, to name a few.
The UAE has become a second home to more than 650,000 Filipinos, of which 450,000 live in Dubai. The UAE’s creative industries including graphic design, fashion design, fine arts, music, web design, animation, and architectural design all employ talented Filipinos who have contributed to the growing sophistication of its business sectors and competitiveness on the world stage.
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