Abu Dhabi’s new Honalfan Summer Festival celebrates the capital’s creative community
Abu Dhabi has a brand new arts extravaganza – a month-long celebration that provides a platform for local emerging artists specialising in everything from photography to poetry.
The inaugural Honalfan Summer Festival, a collaboration between the Abu Dhabi Arts Collective and the Emirates Writers’ Union, opens at Abu Dhabi National Theatre on Tuesday, May 10. Honalfan is Arabic for “art has arrived” or “here is the art”, a fitting title for an event that hopes to make an annual contribution to help expand the grass-roots arts scene.
Among the 20 artists showcasing more than 80 artworks, is Cornelia Baciu, a Romanian expat who is adept at the art of fumage, or fire illustration, which was pioneered by surrealist artists such as Salvador Dali at the beginning of the 20th century. Baciu, who has lived in the UAE for eight years, will be demonstrating her skills during a three-hour live session. Her works are depictions of landscapes, mostly abstract, and one striking piece that she describes as an interpretation of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.
Katharina Möller, co-organiser of the festival, will also be displaying her work – surrealist paintings that use different media alongside paint, such as sand, which she “sculpts” to create a textured surface.
“We want to celebrate creativity in Abu Dhabi and offer something new to people here,” says Möller. “It is important for us to connect with the public and show how art can move you, it can open your mind and make a difference in your life.”
While the artworks are the focus “frame” of the festival, also on the schedule during the coming weeks are several events such as live music concerts, short films evenings, poetry readings, interactive workshops and even stand-up comedy performances from Abu Dhabi’s comedy club Yalla Laughs.
“The first goal of the festival is to spread awareness about the importance of art throughout the city,” says co-organiser Nizar Alsaleh.
“There are so many really good artists of all kinds in this city and they need a stage to be exposed to public. Also it is a great way to get artists from all different backgrounds to come together.”
Alsaleh, a Palestinian who has lived in the UAE for 20 years, says this is a festival born out of passion, and his motivation is to share that appreciation for art.
“That is why we decided to include music, poetry and comedy, to attract bigger audiences.”
Alsaleh is part of the “Sufi-rock” band Mastour, which will headline one of the concerts planned. He will also be reading poetry in Arabic and English.
“It is vital to have the other events to keep people coming to the exhibition and to widen our sphere of influence,” says Möller.
“It is a great initiative,” says Baciu. “It is good exposure for us all and helps us find new audiences.”
The Honalfan Summer Festival runs from Tuesday, May 10 until June 4 at Abu Dhabi National Theatre. Visit www.facebook.com/ADArtsCollective