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Putting the map on Dubai: New Address hotel dresses walls with atlas art

Hotels around the world adorn their walls, floors and ceilings with art, often by leading creative talents

Saffiya Ansari

Published: Updated:

Hotels around the world adorn their walls, floors and ceilings with art, often by leading creative talents. The competition to showcase work to the international audiences who frequent hotels is fierce, especially in the cosmopolitan, much-visited, city of Dubai.

Emaar Properties’ new Address Boulevard Hotel is rolling out the carpet to artists from around the world, decorating the building for its grand opening in the coming months. Set to stand at a height of 368 meters, making it the 33rd tallest building in the world, global artists are vying to find a permanent home for their work amongst the hotel’s throng of seasonal guests.

Three international artists will grace space with their creative interpretation of Dubai, among many others. Britons Ewan David Eason and Matthew Picton both produced stunning 3-D maps of the city, while Canadian Dennis Ekstedt’s paintings will adorn the hotel walls.

Al Arabiya English spoke to the artists about the opportunity to leave their mark on one of the city’s premiere hotels and why they chose the artistic route in life.

Matthew Picton

Picton has been a professional artist since 1998 and has exhibited widely on the west and east coast of the United States. His work predominantly features maps due to the artist’s fascination with intricate diagrams of the forms and patterns of the organisms that constitute cities.

Can you tell us a bit about how and why you came to be an artist?

I was at the London school of Economics studying politics and history, feeling like I wanted something more creative to do than write essays. I wanted to make something, then I met a young friend who was going off to art school it just seemed so much more exciting with so many more possibilities.

Having worked all over the world, what city stands out to you and why? What is it about those cities that inspire you?

I could give many examples here, from the intensity of humanity in Calcutta to the sheer physical beauty of, perhaps, Cape Town. However, for the purposes of which I work, Berlin and St Petersburg standout - places where the weight and prevalence of history are always felt. For me,[there is] so much to work with both from a cultural standpoint and a historical one in terms of events and change.
Within the Mideast, what has been the most interesting city you have portrayed in your art?

I would say Cairo. I have made two sculptures of the city so far. It is of great interest as it has undergone many periods of change and has a long history. Most recently it has undergone further significant upheavals which I included in the second of my two sculptures of the city.

Ewan David Eason

Ewan David Eason investigates the interplay of contrasting colors, which has manifested itself in sculptures, paintings, videos and prints. He has a series titled “Mappa Mundi” in which he presents snapshots of the world in map form.

Within the Middle East, what has been the most interesting city you have portrayed in your art?

Like the original 17th Century Mappa Mundi maps, one of the contexts of my Mappa Mundi works represent a snapshot of our ever-changing landscape that could potentially be completely re-written in as little as a decade. This is classically epitomized in cities such like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. I am also intrigued by the beautiful layouts of the older cities such as Jerusalem, Cairo and Beirut.

What you learned about Dubai while working on the project?

Whilst gathering the information for the cities that I create, I am naturally led to study more about the history of the city in order to shed light on why the city has been made like it has. Dubai is a new city, however, I discovered that it is rich in history dating back 3000 years. Up until the 1960s, Dubai had mainly been a busy trading port, however, after the discovery of oil in 1966 the fast expansion of the city began. Soon after, Dubai became a hub for large businesses. As a result, it is has become a multi-cultural city with huge commercial opportunities for all industries, including the creative industry.

Dennis Ekstedt

Ekstedt’s work depicts landscapes and architectures composed of masses of many small lights and luminous forms. The pinpricks of light represent humanity’s presence on the landscape and the artist will showcase three pieces at the hotel - Dubai (Horizon), Dubai (Skyline) and Dubai ( Approach), all of which present the viewer with a different view of the burgeoning metropolis.

What did you learn about Dubai while working on the project?

I learned that it’s a fast growing city with a lot of money and resources. Its city planning can be quite ambitious, creative and elaborate. It also has a vibrant art scene with many important collectors.

Having worked all over the world, what city stands out to you and why? What is it about those cities that inspire you?

I would say that Los Angeles, California stands out for me because it seems like the ultimate example of urban sprawl and there are many famous and iconic views of the city, especially at night when its illuminated. To me, cityscapes resemble vast living organisms in how their networks of electric light evoke nervous systems. I find the sprawl of L.A. best resembles a kind a vast living organism. Other cities are interesting for their skylines, such as Hong Kong and New York City.

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