Ruxeena Musthafa is an upcoming Dubai-based contemporary artist who began her tryst with the world art, at a very young age. Today, she creates stunning, inspiring works of abstract art that evoke the visceral as well as the intellectual in every viewer. In this interview feature she shares with us her insights into art, inspiration and philosophy.
We would love to know more about your background and where your journey into the world of Art began?
I could say that my journey began right from the time of my inception, in my mother’s womb. They say certain traits are genetically passed down. I firmly believe that my artistic genes are from her. She is very creative in her own way. She can make art from bits and pieces of cloth and create something ethereally beautiful through stitching and knitting. I grew up being inspired by her creativity and colors. Art has always been the channel for women to express themselves for generations. I guess I am no different.
Who are your major influences? Do Artists follow a certain style or develop their own niche with regards to artistic technique?
That’s a tough question and rather than who, I would like to say what. There are various things that inspire me from my daily life, the opportunities I have been given, to historical art movements such as expressionism, post-impressionism, specific artists, and most importantly, the process itself. Process-based art inspires me because it allows me to communicate and express things I can’t always do verbally and that’s therapeutic.
I reckon it’s hard today to have your own niche in the art world. I understand that artists do follow certain things, consciously or subconsciously because that’s inevitable with the amount of sensory perception today especially with media and information available to us. But that doesn’t take away from us the individuality of an artist. We live in a contemporary art world today that priorities conceptualization; so I guess our concepts are the product of that sensory perception, and that’s okay.
What medium do you usually work on?
Mixed media and mostly acrylic because it’s quick and does not allow me to overthink which I quite enjoy. Life’s too short to overthink.
We see a lot of abstract expressionism and Jackson Pollock-like technique in your Art. Would you say that’s your signature style?
Yeah, I can see why you’d think that. Abstract expressionism is definitely something that I consider and absolutely love and I can also see why you’d think my work might resemble Pollocks’ but I reckon our techniques are very different. Pollock’s famous drip paint technique is still quite choreographed on the canvas although it is visually abstract. It’s planned and executed whereas I like to keep things more fluid. I never know what I’m going to end up with and I will literally do whatever feels right at that moment in time. I don’t even choose my colours beforehand. I like that freedom and I don’t think Pollock represents that for me.
What’s your inspiration or prelude to a particular work? What drives you?
Like I mentioned, for me it’s all about the process. What I am feeling on that specific day and what I need to get out of my system. It’s about the relationship that exists between my mind, the material of the medium and how I can use the two to translate a feeling. Painting for me is like speech. I don’t like to filter everything I think. I want it to be raw and stay true to myself and I think that each piece is a product of a raw thought. Unfiltered and true
What are you currently working on?
I would like to keep it a suspense! (watch this space!)
You teach art at the Dubai International Art Centre. What are your supporting arguments to the debate on whether Art can be taught?
Art is such a broad term. We can hardly speculate what it represents anymore but I can speak from my perspective. Art for me is a form of channeling energy. As a teacher, I want to be able to show kids that they can do this too. I believe I can teach them the language of art, but it’s up to them to create their own stories with that. It’s about giving them the tools but they get to build whatever they want.
You’ve been living in Dubai for over a decade. How do you see Dubai fostering creativity?
I think I might be a bit biased with this one as I’m an artist and art teacher. I always believe there’s more room for harbouring creativity. Anywhere and everywhere. Things are changing, alternative therapies such as art therapy, music, and dance therapy are all being introduced to several communities today with incredible results. It’s not as prominent in Dubai yet but Dubai is so young and ever changing so I’m certain that the art world can only grow too and I’m looking forward to being a part of that growth.
Art is now considered as an investment. How do you sell your artwork? Who are your buyers?
Art has always been considered an investment, from the frescoes adorning old churches in Italy to modern art in a private collectors’ hand. I kind of like the idea that someone translates their imagination be investing time, material and process and someone else cherishes that enough to invest with money. We’re all investing something. But at the same time, there’s this entire debate on what’s valuable in the art market today and why, and it’s an ongoing conversation that I usually don’t like to be part of. It’s strenuous and that’s kind of the opposite reason of why I enjoy my practice. If someone is interested in my work and I feel they have the right intentions, I’m happy to sell it. I’m not fussy about the who’s buying my artwork as long as they have respect for the work and make an attempt to understand my practice.
Are you interested in buying Ruxeena’s art work? Call to fix an appointment: 00971-504568483
(Editing by John Thomas. With additional inputs by Husna Muhammad)