The Dubai-based French-Tunisian artist adds to his UAE portfolio with a new project on an Ajman tower block
First it was Sharjah, then Dubai and now it’s Ajman’s turn for the eL Seed treatment.
On Sunday, the French-Tunisian artist announced the completion of his latest UAE-based project on Instagram with little more than an image and the mysterious hashtag #lesyeuxdanslesbleus.
The ornate blue, black and white mural adorns a tower block at the junction of Badr and Al Ittihad Streets in Ajman’s Al Bustan neighbourhood and like all of eL Seed’s work it features a quote written in Arabic, in this instance from Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding president of the UAE.
“On land and in the sea, our forefathers lived and survived in this environment. They were able to do so because they recognised the need to conserve it, to take from it only what they needed to live, and to preserve it for succeeding generations.”
With the completion of the work, Ajman now joins a growing list of international locations that can boast a major work by the artist including Paris, New York, Cape Town and Melbourne.
eL Seed completed his first public UAE-based project on an abandoned building on Sharjah’s Bank Streetin 2015 as part of a public art initiative, Jedariya (Arabic for walls), that was launched by the Maraya Art Centre.
His second public UAE-based installation, which features a poem, Positive Spirit, was completed on the walls of The Green Planet at Dubai’s City Walk in Dubai at the end of 2016.
“I always make sure that I am writing messages. There is a message, but there are also layers of political and social context and that’s what I am adding,” eL Seed told The National in January 2017. “The aesthetic is really important, that’s what captures your attention, but then I try and open a dialogue that’s based on the location and the choice of text.”
Other than making his inimitable mark on Ajman’s urban fabric, the meaning of eL Seed’s latest work is unclear. The artist, who has a studio at Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue, has described the work as “a taste of Sidi Bou Said in Ajman”, referring to a town on the north coast of Tunisia that is famous for its beauty and its white traditional architecture, which often sports blue sun shades and blinds.
Given eL Seed’s Franco-Tunisian heritage, the hashtag and reference might also be a riff on the blue of the ocean, the lyrics of Edith Piaf or even the eye-shaped nazar amulets that are used throughout the Mediterranean as charms against the power of the evil eye.
This article originally appeared in The National