Iranian Artist Trio Unveil New Works At Reem Central Skate Park in Abu Dhabi

ALDAR, Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian, Iranian Artists, Reem Central Park, Abu Dhabi, Reem Island
Courtesy of the artists
Reem Central Park, Abu Dhabi. Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian, commissioned by Aldar in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Art
Artists Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian have adorned Reem Island's skate park with works inspired by Arabic motifs and the site's multicultural visitors...

For ALDAR's public commission at Reem Central Park in Abu Dhabi, and in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Art, Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian together with their frequent collaborators, artists Nargess Hashemi and Sara Rahmanian, have created kaleidoscopic paintings across structural columns that pay homage to the site, its users and the country in the inimitable style that emerges from the hands of the trio.

Despite the venue almost demanding it, the artists resisted the urge to make graffiti – which is precisely what one thinks of when contemplating an urban skate park. Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian, three Iranian artists based in Dubai, steered clear of this because graffiti, after all, denotes anti-establishment rebellion. Their artwork at the skate park in Reem Central Park, Abu Dhabi, was a commission. What they have created instead is kaleidoscopic paintings across structural columns that paid homage to the site, its users and the country – but in the inimitable style that emerges from the hands of the trio.


Reem Central Park, Abu Dhabi. Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian, commissioned by Aldar in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Art. Courtesy of the artists

Parks historically have been in locations where the boundaries of formality blur, often where commissioned murals and sculptures by established artists sit alongside defaced walls and instances of vandalism. Ramin, Rokni and Hesam’s Reem Island artwork – which turn columns that support a bridge almost gothic-looking – very much follows in that tradition by placing the baroque in the everyday.

The introduction of the work into the skate park elevates it, creating the feeling of a punk opera house. An overly ornate and formal space but, in the end, a space where kids scrape their knees. Likewise, the park setting renders the artwork more accessible. The work is not enclosed as it may have been in a gallery, it is a living part of the space. The three artists think of their work as an active process.

A work they exhibit in once will likely be changed the next time you see it. The Reem work has that same feeling of life, but rather than the artists changing the work, the effects of time and use will. The painted columns are meant to be occupied and affected by the skate park, gaining the additions of weathered use. The artists are not collaborators. They insist that their work is collaboration resistant. They are, instead, committed negotiators. The negotiation is present in the oftentimes disjointed nature of the work, and can be seen on Reem in the sharp shifts of style within the columns. The artists don’t come to a unified vision, but rather add layers to one another’s work.


Reem Central Park, Abu Dhabi. Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian, commissioned by Aldar in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Art. Courtesy of the artists

The result is a collision that is particular to none of them and yet entirely their own; a surprising harmony that belies the individuality of each artist working on the same tableau. Like in many of their other work, the trio started at Reem with the triangle, one of the oldest motifs in the art world. The triangle is repeated, like a meditation, softening the edges of the columns and creating an illusion of movement feeding into the skaters below. Layered over the triangles are references from the park itself, abstracted repetitions of the curves of the bowls and ramps.

Before taking brush to concrete, the artists observed the park. They allowed themselves to be inspired by the naturally occurring shapes they saw, the people who visited the park, and the way they interacted there. In many ways, the artwork is a reference to the park itself. Though the work is a visual departure from the neutral-coloured concrete and astroturf surrounding it, it is born from the life present in the park.

Visitors may be surprised to see altered versions of themselves rendered on the columns, an acknowledgement of the park’s patrons. Patterns taken from the majlis in Dubai’s Etihad Museum, where the country’s union was realized, join other Emirates-specific motifs to create an imagery that is hyper local. If you allow yourself to be present to the work, you can find representations of the Oryx’s and pale flamingos that are native to the emirates. The environment and the people within it become collaborators of the artwork.


Reem Central Park, Abu Dhabi. Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian, commissioned by Aldar in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Art. Courtesy of the artists

The lush detailing of Ramin, Rokni and Hesam’s work, complemented by the vault-like structure the bridge held aloft by the columns, heightens the echoing cacophony of skaters and children scraping about. Typically, urban skate parks are focused on utility. In Reem Central Park, the artists’ work brings form to function, artistry becomes as important to the experience of the park as utility. The disparity between the rough practicality of the skate park and the elaborate paintings becomes suggestive of the decadence of an abandoned theater in Detroit that the artists reference.

However, this park is not abandoned, it is visited daily by skaters and families that use the park as if it were a private space. In fact, the motifs of the majlis in the work were inspired by the way in which the visitors blurred private and public space. The artists noticed that for the patrons of the park the bright green grass is akin to a carpet. Families regularly host full picnics, large meals, for friends and visitors on the grass of the park’s mounds. They kick off their shoes and presume postures of casual intimacy usually reserved for the home turning the park into a kind of public majlis.

The natural dynamic nature of the space reminded Ramin, Rokni and Hesam of the majlis, which is where the public meets the private. Whereas in the majlis one is creating a public space in the home, here in Reem Central Park, the patrons are making a private space into a public one. The work invites the viewer to consider liminal spaces. The lines between the private and the public, the formal and the informal, utility and artistry, and other blurred existences. It also makes one question where art belongs, while also firmly insisting that its place is everywhere.

Thus, Reem skate park becomes the gallery.


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ALDAR, Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh, Hesam Rahmanian, Iranian Artists, Reem Central Park, Abu Dhabi, Reem Island
Courtesy of the artists
Reem Central Park, Abu Dhabi. Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh and Hesam Rahmanian, commissioned by Aldar in collaboration with Abu Dhabi Art