Exclusive: The Hidden Meanings Behind Rowaida Hakim's New Diamond Art

BY Ayesha Sohail Shehmir Shaikh / Mar 21 2020 / 12:25 PM

The expressionistic brushstrokes of Rowaida Hakim are suggestive of several themes, but happiness and love are the two which the self-taught artist spreads the most with her contagious inner joy

Exclusive: The Hidden Meanings Behind Rowaida Hakim's New Diamond Art
ITP images
Rowaida Hakim. Happiness. 2020. Acrylic and copper leaf on canvas

Be it residential buildings in the heart of Dubai or the beauty and mystery of the natural world, Lebanese, Dubai-based artist Rowaida Hakim has been inspired by her surrounding landscapes since she was a little girl. She made her debut at Sotheby's in Dubai with Golden Light, an exhibition which unveiled several of her works comprising 24k gold leaf, entitled Confetti, Dubai Nights, Flowers of Joy, Romance and The Secret City, to name a few. A testament to her ongoing desire to innovate, for her newest works the artist has incorporated real diamond stones on canvas.

Made with acrylic, precious diamond stones and gold leaf, New Chapter (2020) symbolises, as the name suggests, new beginnings. “I wanted to convey that everyone can start new,” expresses Hakim. “An unpleasant event is not the end of your life and everything has a positive meaning. Everyday is a new chapter in our life.” She adds with a humble smile, “everyone’s perception is different though and I leave it to the viewer to find the meaning they want in my art.”

Rowaida Hakim
Rowaida Hakim. New Chapter 2020. Acrylic, gold leaf and diamonds on canvas

The work, brimming with colour with each representing a different emotion and moment in life, is complete with layer-upon-layer of bright pinks, greens, whites and blues, embellished with splashes of gold. “I use gold amongst the other colours in my painting, because for me, gold represents continuity,” she shares. “It is one of the metals which cannot be corroded at all with time.”

The vivacious colours are housed within a black border, which is adorned with over a hundred diamond stones, depicting the essence of longevity, beauty, strength and positive energy. “Nothing can damage a diamond but itself, so the stone represents strength, amongst other things,” she explains.

Other new works by Hakim graced with diamonds include Love Situation (2019) and Pyramid of Gems (2020). To achieve a seamless synergy between diamonds and art, the artist has avoided all use of glue – the stones are beautifully set in place directly on the wet paint. “The diamonds are at one with the paintings,” says the artist.

Rowaida Hakim
Rowaida Hakim. Pyramid of Gems. 2020. Acrylic and 24-carat gold leaf with diamonds

Pyramid of Gems (2020), made with acrylic, 24k gold leaf and over 300 glistening diamond stones, is another work dear to the artist. “Pyramids for me have a rich and culturally mysterious element,” she says. “Even today, we are exploring and learning more from the pyramids.” The gems seen in the work are indicative of knowledge, history and the world’s mysteries. “I have a deep love and interest in Egyptian history.”

The self-taught artist’s works have been exhibited globally including at the 25th edition of Art Shopping in Paris at Carrousel Du Louvre, which displayed an array of works from her previous and new collections such as Colourful Ideas (2019), Untitled Colours 1 & 2 (2019) and Rain of Grace (2018).

Rowaida Hakim
Rowaida Hakim. A detail of Dancing Colours. 2018. Acrylic gold leaf on canvas

Held in January this year and aptly entitled New Spirit, Hakim’s most recent exhibition was housed within her own gallery space and prestigious luxury design firm, Rowaida Interiors, in Jumeirah Lake Towers, and it marked the unveiling of her first works in diamond. The show was home to several pieces, each with its own special message of optimism. “In almost every exhibition I have conducted, there has been one or more new art pieces and techniques with a new message to deliver,” she explains.

Made using acrylic and golden leaf on canvas, a work which has contributed to a life-changing milestone for Hakim is Dancing Colours (2018), which could perhaps be described as a physical representation of her optimistic mindset and bubbly persona. “I was so happy the night I finished Dancing Colours,” she recalls. When the painting is viewed intently, the movement of the gracefully aligned colours is brought to life – they really do dance on canvas. “When we paint, our feelings are shown in the works,” says Hakim. “Dancing Colours truly is one of the happiest pieces I’ve created and it is much loved by many.”

The high-rise buildings in Dubai are one of the main inspirations for the artist, and in fact, her love for them has seen her work in the real estate industry for many years. “I consider the buildings as my babies,” she laughs. “Whenever I see them, especially the ones with colour at night, it brings me so much joy.” A painting which brings her love for the bustling city to life is Dubai Nights (2014), one which has never been exhibited for sale before. “It is my favourite piece because of how much affection I have for Dubai,” she expresses. “Be it day or night, Dubai will always have a piece of my heart.” Currently, Hakim’s name is behind several real estate companies based in Dubai.

Rowaida Hakim
Rowaida Hakim.Dubai Nights. 2014. Acrylic and gold leaf on canvas

Dubai is a city of happiness and it has had a lot of impact on my personality,” admits the artist. “I always have a mindset of positivity and hope to spread that positivity and happiness with everyone through my paintings.”

Also distinct about Hakim’s signature style is that every piece contains a hidden message within, literally. “Every painting of mine has a secret behind it,” she reveals. “Then I paint over it. It could be a message or a drawing – it can be anything. A New Chapter also has something hidden inside, a message for the world which I can’t reveal just yet.”

Rowaida Hakim
Rowaida Hakim with her latest work titled New Chapter. 2020. Acrylic, gold leaf and diamond stones on canvas

She adds, “sometimes, I like to portray the message through a simple medium – I don’t need to do much, I just let the painting do the talking.” If the artist had to share one, and only one message through her work? She pauses, smiling, “Love. That’s it.”

All images photographed by Efraim Evidor, ITP images

From the Spring 2020 issue of Harper's BAZAAR Art