Hashel Al Lamki, Silk Road, NFT, 2022
For Art Dubai’s first digital presentation, Emirati painter and visual thinker, Hashel Al Lamki contributed Silk Road (2022), an NFT grounded in the flows that the artist perceives between past/present, local and global, digital and physical worlds.
Continuing his decade-long explorations of the relationship between man and land, Al Lamki gazes out from Al Ain and reflects upon the social, economic and cultural shifts that have transpired regionally over the years. Early on the Silk Road route offered the world a glimpse into globalisation, its cross-continent trade routes facilitating the flow of resources, products, ideas and people. Today the artist bears witness to the push and pull between tradition and modernity in Al Ain as local culture is reimagined and reconfigured in the era of globalisation and digitalisation.
Al Lamki’s original painting which references the Jebel Hafeet mountain in Al Ain has transcended into NFT format. The work has been layered upon a thin layer of silk. Al Lamki understands silk as a materialisation of the currents in the air that the UAE’s Bedouin community historically used to navigate their movements while in parallel these currents remind the artist of the flows of information and commerce that continue in the contemporary moment. This material takes on new meaning when worked upon with the artist’s freshly formulated pigments derived from the surrounding mountains in a muted palette. In his youth, Al Lamki was inspired by the craftwork and dying process of the local artisans from the Bedouin community that surrounded him in Al Ain. He was particularly fascinated by their use of natural pigments, sourced from the surrounding land in order to establish natural colours to transform their craftwork, a process now reimagined and represented through the artist's practice. Through his process of unification, the artist seeks to explore the connections he perceives between generations, cultures, and communities that play out around him once fuelled by nomadism and well-trodden trade routes and now expedited by globalisation.