Sanaa Merchant, born and brought up in UAE, is a self-taught artist. Although a graduate of an International Business degree, life eventually led her to discover an innate passion and enthusiasm in the fine arts. The only basic education was an O level fine art which is where she discovered her talent and since then never looked back.
Known for traditional Arabian themes with a modern perspective, the artist’s practice ranges from ornamental works to modernism in abstract and calligraphic forms. Moreover, the use of vibrant bold colors, with their dimensional forms gives them a thought provoking process in the development. In addition to this the use of the intense pen and ink compositions seen in most of Merchant’s works gives it an extra touch of detail.
The contemporary results seen in her work break the rules of the conventional outlook usually imposed since she is influenced by Arabic contemporary styles and their enriched layered colors. The rich Islamic heritage in its teachings and Arab customs, as well as its historical role in artifacts and tradition is one of the main sources that inspire Merchant’s works, as there are many genres such as; architectural heritage, mosques, minarets, jewelry, khanjars, coins and other ornaments. The artist gets most of her exposure from her surroundings since she has been born and brought up in the United Arab Emirates.
Merchant is very fond of adding modern elements in her traditional themes such as designs that have primarily evolved from Islamic calligraphy and motifs, as well as featuring intricate patterns of geometrical shapes. Her former works have usually been medium sized watercolor paintings and in time evolved to large sized paintings on canvas. This has appealed much of her onlookers and buyers.
Furthermore, her recent works and methods have shifted focus in modern abstracts as well in her high interest in Arabic letter forms breaking from the norm to the contemporary style of lettering and abstracts. Due to the high demands of this form in art today, Merchant is constantly trying out new ideas and more art styles in up to date art practices.
Having held several exhibitions at Sharjah Ladies Club, Burjuman, Address Hotel, Kempinski hotel, Mercato and University of Sharjah to name a few, Sanaa has also been commissioned custom projects for Norton Rose, Kempinski Bahrain and other private clients. Along with being a freelance artist, she conducts private art classes as she feels that society needs to be exposed to art.
“Art eases my mind and helps me stay focused. It uplifts me and I believe that art is for everyone, one just needs to break free from the norms. It is an inspiring love affair where the canvas is the lover; the paint, sweet embraces; the colours, a vivid palette of moods and feelings and each painting a different phase of the amour. I develop a telepathic connection with each piece, controlled by strong emotions, which resound in a sudden blend of hues, only to become a lucid picture again. My work is about the imperfections that surround life, and still make it precious, as it is in the case of love.”