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December 2013


I am passionate about art, not only practicing it but also spreading it, appreciating it and learning it

Posted October 31, 2012 by artBahrain in artDestination

Alia Lootah, a young determined artist from the UAE talks to artBahrain about what inspires her passion to be an artist and curator in the public eye. She is the curator and a participating artist in “Art for All Emerging Artists” a Touring Exhibition organized by the Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation. She joins the panel of “Art For All: Public and Private,” Abu Dhabi Art Talk on November 9 in Manarat Al Saadiyat auditorium presented by Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation together with Emirati artists who participated in Between Private and Public exhibition.


Alia Lootah


AB: Can you tell us a bit of your background?

AL: I was raised in a family that appreciates art. Both of my parents are very talented and most of my siblings too. I was supported by all my family and my teachers at school. So I decided to major in Fine Arts.

AB: Did you always know that you would pursue painting?
Somehow, in the back of my head I imagined myself as an artist. Not necessarily painting but art in general.

AB: What got you interested in curating?
AL: I am passionate about art, not only practicing it but also spreading it, appreciating it and learning it. With curating, you get to do all of that. A curator should have an artistic eye. Curating is very interesting because it is not merely exhibition management, it is a philosophy of what is there to be seen, felt, or heard. I find it very interesting to understand artists and their work and that is why I am interested in curating.

AB: In your ongoing show ‘Art for All’, emerging Emirati artists touring exhibition, you are the curator at the same time participating with your artworks, have you kept your fine artist persona totally separate from your curator persona? How?
AL: Yes, for me they are separated, I just gave a suggestion of how my work should be displayed.


Artwork by Alia


AB: How have these shifting roles affected your authority as curator? What did you see as the benefits and challenges?
AL: The benefit for me as an artist is to be able to communicate with the curator and to understand his or her position. And the benefits for me as a curator is to really look at the artists’ work and understand their contexts, understand all kinds of mediums. I compose the works together using my artistic point of view. The same way I paint and put an image together, I should be able to put an exhibition together with a concept, a consistency, and visual balance.

AB: As a participating artist, what is your take on the power relation between artist and curator and the question of responsibility?
AL: I believe that the artist/curator relationship is a strong relationship that should be balanced. There is no hierarchy in a sense that the artist or the curator’s work is more important than the other.

AB: The exhibition will travel to selected malls, how did you select the work for your venue? Would you say that each piece is related to the ones around it?
AL: I kept my concept, my technique and my outcome exactly in the same standards as I do for a more art conscious public. Because I believe that the general public is smart and curious enough to receive the same kind of exhibition as the ones in art museums or art galleries.

AB: What do you think are the strengths of your venue, visually or conceptually?
Conceptually it is strong because people walk in without planning to see the work as opposed to galleries where people intentionally go to see a certain exhibition. In the mall, people go in because they are curious and this generates a more interesting reaction.

AB: Do you feel that this project will help in shaping the Emirati art community and the public’s perspectives on local art?

AB: What do you hope this project will accomplish?
A beginning of a more art conscious public in the UAE, and an honest representation of Contemporary Art from the Emirates.

AB: Another aspect of your practice that I’d like to address is your job as curator of the Bait Al Banat Gallery, Women’s Museum. You’ve been working there since 2009, have you formed a personal taste that differs or aligns with the museum’s vision?
I am working hand in hand with the founder of the museum Dr. Rafia Ghubash. I brought the contemporary feel to the temporary exhibition and represented female artists from the UAE. The exhibition is done as a reaction to the museum, the artists worked from that starting point or reflecting this idea.

AB: How do you decide which art to show?
I like to present something new and conceptual. I also observe artists and choose the ones who are dedicated to art, and who are intellectually capable of presenting a strong piece of art.

AB: Do you feel like you are limited by the pool of artists in an all-female-centric gallery?
Not at all.

AB:  Finally, what is it that you enjoy most about being a curator?
The freedom of choice and the relationships with artists.


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