Portrait of an Artist & Curator: Alia Zaal Lootah

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

There is a new generation of artists and curators defining the Abu Dhabi art scene. Yalla would like to introduce you to Alia Zaal Lootah, a UAE-based visual artist, Louvre Abu Dhabi curator and rising star to watch.

What is the role of the curator?

Of course, it depends on the type of curator and exhibition. With regard to contemporary art, my role is to serve artists and, ultimately, to serve art itself.

Does being an artist give you a unique perspective into your role as a curator at the Louvre Abu Dhabi?

I speak the language of artists and understand their needs. The purpose of my role as a curator is to take their artwork and compose it in a space with a clear narrative that showcases its inherent beauty and reveals its meaning; an artist must trust that I can do this for the relationship to work. I employ artistic techniques in my curation. In some ways, I view an exhibition as a canvas, and I compose it as I would a painting.

Imagine the Abu Dhabi art scene in a decade.

Just look at the past decade to see what Abu Dhabi will become in another 10 years. The UAE has invested tremendously in its art scene in the past decade, and,

if it carries on at this pace, I’m certain that in ten years’ time, we will have a clear infrastructure laid out to fully support the arts at all levels. I see expanded studio spaces and expect to see at least 10 local galleries that are also visible internationally. To nurture young artists, there will be more art programs in schools. I envision a dedicated arts university to help artists prepare for successful careers and as a place where artists of all varieties will collaborate. When you expand art schools and art programmes, you foster a generation of art appreciators who can activate an exciting art ecosystem.

Did any artist inspire you to become an artist?

My father. He’s what you might call an ‘outsider artist’— one that creates art prolifically but not for commercial purposes. My father has weak eyesight, which is highly susceptible to light and shade conditions, so this is why he is exceptionally attentive to detail. In my home, making art was as normal as breathing and eating; it’s just what we do. Every day,

he impels me to question what art is and who is an artist; fundamental points to ponder in both my roles as an artist and a curator.

Follow Alia on Instagram to learn more @aliazaallootah.

Published in April 2018


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