Street art and graffiti, a form or urban art, which is characterized by sprayed drawings on a wall or other surface that appear in public places, is often viewed, in many places, as vandalism and destruction of private property. The unsanctioned visual artwork from youths armed with spray cans may be a crime in many urban environments, with police often on the lookout for those who choose to deface walls, streets or public buildings. However, for some time now, graffiti have been gaining recognition as an art form in many countries. In Dubai, in the Street Art Gallery, located on 10th B Street Jumeirah 1, for example, it’s always possible to find great, vibrant street artists’ works. There, urban artists are given the space to hold shows, events, and exhibitions of their artwork.
Far from being just a form of protests and political or social commentary, as many graffiti are, these are not the works of rebel teens with spray cans, but rather an exhibition of talent by true artists. The works are non-offensive or discriminating and are for the sole purpose to show off artistic talents through street art murals. The UAE government recognizes spray-painting graffiti like any other art, Stephane Valici, owner of the Street Art Gallery in Dubai, said. He is amazed by the creativity of those often unrecognized artists, advocating such artwork can help transform the Emirate city into an open-air gallery decorated by artists who choose to be unrestricted to a domain for their visual art. Dubai has provided them with a way to be creative, draw attention to their work and skillfulness, Valici said.
Not long ago, in fact, UAE leadership invited hundreds of graffiti artists from around the world (not only emirate natives) to share the same passion for this art; many came together to display their artwork to celebrate the UAE’s 43rd National Day. On that day, December 2, several visual art pieces were rendered in piazzas; a world record was also attempted for the longest graffiti wall in its most populous city, Dubai. Now with media and art world attention, one can expect that such artists will have more chances to create their street art scenes by spray-painting murals on buildings and walls in other areas of the Middle East.
Street art in many ways is embraced by the UAE community, as the presence of Street Art Dubai, the first Street Art Gallery in Dubai dedicated to graffiti and Urban pieces, effectively shows. There, this unconventional art can be proudly displayed in an art studio gallery where it can be formally exhibited to the public at large. Thomas Perreaux-Forest, co-founder of Dubai’s Street Art Gallery, encourages youths armed with spray cans not to take acts of degradation, rather to put their spray-painted work talents in art studios where such passion for street art can be enjoyed; their artwork could even be purchased by interested patrons. A gallery is an ideal place to meet experienced artists, adds Perreaux-Forest. He hopes to display more local street artists’ work in time; his plans are to show and nurture some of that native talent, which he says is a real art form in itself.