Culture

Mexican artist finds inspiration from Shaikh Zayed

Impressions exhibition to run until October 6 showcasing 26 different paintings reflecting the UAE’s past and present

Mexico’s ambassador to the UAE Francisca Elizabeth Mendez Escobar (3rd left) inaugurating the painting exhibition by Mexican artist Jose Toledo (2nd left) along with the diplamts and guests at the Fairmont hotel in Abu Dhabi Photo Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
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Abu Dhabi: Inspired by the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, a Mexican artist living in the UAE for 10 years has paid homage to the late leader and his vision for the country through his ‘Impressions’ exhibition, which features 26 different paintings reflecting the UAE’s past and present.

The exhibition by Jose Toledo was officially inaugurated in Abu Dhabi on Monday evening by Mexico’s ambassador to the UAE Francisca Elizabeth Mendez Escobar, and will run until October 6 at the Fairmont Hotel. The exhibition is part of a series of Mexican cultural programmes in the UAE and follows the unveiling of Jorge Marin’s ‘Wings of Mexico’ at Manarat Al Saadiyat which took place on Sunday.

“The late Shaikh Zayed was a visionary leader and as an artist I found so much inspiration in his message and what he wanted to achieve for his country. It’s amazing to see how far the UAE has come and how it has developed from when Shaikh Zayed started as a leader, and I wanted to capture that growth with my paintings,” said Toledo.

“I have created 26 different paintings that reflect the UAE’s culture and history as well as its present. The paintings showcase some of the country’s oldest monuments and architecture such as the 15th Century Al Bidya Mosque in Fujairah, Al Ain Palace — where Shaikh Zayed lived, Qasr Al Hosn which dates back to 1760 in Abu Dhabi, and the modern day Louvre Abu Dhabi,” he added, explaining what visitors can expect to see.

While his work was focused on Emirati culture and history, Toledo said he found several similarities with his own Mexican heritage.

“Mexico has a very ancient and unique history, and the UAE too has its own history. But there are still many concepts that I found the same, concepts that I could relate to as a Mexican citizen.

“Just like Mexican culture, there is a very strong emphasis on family bonds and relationships within Emirati society. For both cultures religion and faith also plays a big part in their societies — it doesn’t matter that one is Christian and the other is Muslim, for both people the concept of faith in their daily lives is a very important one and one that has shaped their histories,” he added.

Toledo said he was happy to be part of a cultural dialogue, speaking positively on the impact art can create in bringing different people together.

“This exhibition is creating a dialogue through art, everyone who visits will have their own perspectives and impressions of these paintings and what it means to them, but what is important is that we are keeping the past of the UAE alive and telling its story.

“And we are not just focusing on the history, but also looking to the present and the future,” he added.