Ever since she donned a black body suit covered in bright green numbers and stood in the middle of a Sharjah roundabout, Ebtisam Abdul Aziz has been an integral part of the UAE’s art scene. She works in the realm of Systemic Art, with a multi-disciplinary practice that grew from an academic foundation in maths and science. Her fascination with numbers, codes, sequences and geometric forms play out her unique perspective on the structures of systems. She renders these concepts in densely networked canvases, performances and frenetic works on paper. The strict, codified order she imposes articulates and maps wider issues of identity and culture.
She is a member of the Emirates Fine Arts Society and Tashkeel editorial team. Her solo exhibitions include ‘Blue Freedom: Ebtisam Abdul Aziz’, District of Columbia Arts Center, Washington DC (2017); ‘Autobiography’, The Third Line (2012); and ‘Ebtisam Abdul Aziz’, Sharjah Contemporary Art Museum (2007). She has taken part in numerous international and regional group shows, was exhibited as part of the inaugural UAE Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale, the 7th Sharjah Biennial and the 32nd Emirates Fine Arts Society Annual Exhibition. Her work is housed in several prominent public and private collections worldwide.
Art is, to me, all the media and principles humans use to produce a work that expresses their ideas. A work of art is the embodiment of an idea expressed through an artistic form. It is closely related to social progress and human intellect- the more knowledgeable we become, the more that reflects on our art. A true artist will seek to express themselves with the tools of their time- with the tools available because of change.
In my works I attempted to reflect this emancipation of the artist. Most of them express a great deal of change in myself as an artist and how I deal with the idea and reality. An artist cannot be detached from the events that surround them. An artwork is being reproduced at many levels. I began to wonder about the entity and the value that makes it a work of art. Some of my works are related to modern science, especially mathematics. I need these sciences as a modern human being, and that need commands their inclusion in art. I used installations, video, photography, maps, and system art- any and everything that is modern- in producing my art. I also dealt with everyday issues laden with psychological poignancies; issues like life and death, happiness and sorrow, love, hate and jealousy, as well as other human situation we are faced with in our daily lives. Some works concern the relationship between visual culture and its incorporation of modern technology, giving a new technological visual vigor to my work.
My works are a clear and present part of who I am in the theater of life and daily existence. The variety in shapes and materials, from photographs to video, installation, numbers and geometric shapes are definitely exhibited for different purposes. Some document the accelerating times, others are blueprints of giant environmental projects, through which I showcase ideas that search for human nature and sail into adventure which explores the workings of the human brain. Others present an alternative concept to the accelerating change in our environment, and other visual concepts that explain the contrast between shadow and light. Some are intimately related to optical illusion art in a display of visually distorted geometric shapes and lines, which surely betray my closeness to mathematics. Manipulating numbers and mathematical systems is simply a cry of revolt against the shackles of oppressive regimes.
My performance art demonstrates a clear and present part of who I am as a female Arab/ Muslim artist in the theater of life and daily existence. Originating from a culture that displays very conservative and censored tendencies, some of my work discusses the conceptual basis of complete freedom. which are subjects that is not always permitted to be produced back home simply due to the sensitivity of the concept and topics. Other aspects of my art raise issues relating to women at its core, and the coalescence of the environment and social issues on women; in this respect, it is my intention to express the conflicts between the individual and society. Furthermore, I represent each and every woman whom is searching for freedom. My art is a true representation of how I feel as an Arab woman, as an artist, a friend, a daughter, and the multitude of various roles that I have accepted unequivocally or decisions that have been allocated to me, up until now.