Adu Dhabi Art, Maqam, curated by Dr. Venetia Porter (British Museum): Hashel Al Lamki

22 - 26 November 2023

The annual exhibition Gateway, which highlights local and international artists through unique perspectives, this year is curated by Venetia Porter, who has chosen to present a survey show for Emirati painter and multi-disciplinary artist Hashel Al Lamki.

The exhibition, entitled Maqam - after the residential neighbourhood of Al Ain where Al Lamki grew up - invites visitors to journey alongside him as he unveils his artistic odyssey. Like the melodic compositions of the maqam in music - a traditional pattern of melodic elements - this exhibition weaves together Al Lamki’s past works and current creations, offering a comprehensive understanding of his artistic evolution and his ambitions for the future. Within this creative journey, the interplay between natural landscapes and human intervention echoes as a profound underlying theme.


"Hashel Al Lamki is one of the leading lights of the UAE. Early to grasp the importance of climate action and environmental consciousness, he was also among the first of his generation to realise the need for artists to work together, to offer peer to peer critique and to create collaborative, artist-run spaces. He reflects on issues of importance to him, from both a local and global context.


Al Lamki came of age in the rapidly transforming environs of Al Ain. It is therefore unsurprising that he cherishes the notion of social cohesion as well as that of respecting our responsibility toward the land. After all, Al Ain holds a special place in the history of the UAE and in this regard in particular. The late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the UAE, was appointed Ruler’s Representative of Al Ain at the age of 29. He was the first to bring water to irrigate the land, digging wells and enabling the development of agriculture. He held regular majlises, where people could discuss the issues that mattered most to them and come together in one place. The exemplar he set in both environmental stewardship and in bringing the community together, will shape generations to come. As he once commented:

"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."

Al Lamki, itinerant yet rooted in Al Ain, holds this philosophy close and takes it far afield. Whether through addressing the need to find solutions for consumer waste or help in disaster stuck communities in Guatemala or Haiti, or through pioneering the use of colour pigments derived from natural resources in the region, it is clear that he recognises the need to steward the environment and find sustainable solutions for communities at risk. Understanding his roots in Al Ain, shaped as it was, by the visionary leadership of Sheikh Zayed, enables us to grasp this.
It is important that Venetia Porter has chosen this moment in Al Lamki’s career to examine and document his work. As a curator she is driven to research and care for not just objects or artworks, but also the artists that have created them. Al Lamki’s work should leave a path for others to dis- cover and can do so, thanks to her contribution in this field. We thank Dr Porter for undertaking this valuable work and we thank those who have so generously loaned his work for exhibition at Abu Dhabi Art this year. Most of all, we thank Hashel for sharing his life’s work thus far with us."

- Dyala Nusseibeh