White Crow Art Daily

Abdullah Al Saadi’s Studio -Venice Biennale 2017

“I always loved art and as soon as I graduated from school I opened my own studio at home. I started to collect things around me and produce art from them,” says Al Saadi, who was born and continues to live in his modest family home in Madha, a small village on the UAE-Oman border.

Just like his diary, which is an indispensable part of the UAE Pavilion catalogue, Al Saadi’s land art is a reflection of his life, and his works are a hint of his personal stories.

For example, the artist says he went through a period of gathering dead insects, which he remembered from his childhood, followed by a decade-long obsession with sweet potato, once a dietary staple in the area, and which his father, a farmer, used to cultivate.  

Al Saadi’s most recent exhibition,  relives more such memories. It showed a series from 1998 called My Mother’s Letters – a poignant collection of objects that his mother used to leave behind in his studio to let him know she had visited while he was out. Also on display was The Watermelon Series, watercolour impressions of the mountains inspired by his 4-year-old son, who once said that the triangle-shaped watermelon he was eating resembled a hill.

 Despite enjoying a second showing at one of the world’s most important art festivals, Al Saadi is determined to remain focused on his art, heritage and memories. “I do not set out to reveal the details of life,” he says. “I just capture what is around me, to express my ideas. With My Mother’s Letters, for example, I was not only telling the story about my mother but about all mothers. With the bones, I was questioning our relationship with animals. I use my work to show parts of my life that I’m sure are common with people all over the world – I am not just interested in stories, but also in shape and form.”