The wall is huge, because it’s actually the side of a building.
It was going to be the biggest project he ever did.
When he first came to Dubai in 2013, the Maraya Art Center approached artist Marwan Shakarchi. They asked him to get involved in a second ‘Jedariya’ project. The first project is eL Seed’s “calligraffiti” on the Bank of Sharjah building. Shakarchi agreed.
Shakarchi then spent months driving around Sharjah, taking photos of buildings that looked promising. He gradually narrowed down ten building to one. Coincidentally, it was an an abandoned apartment building across from Al Qasba – also, the location of the Maraya Art Center.
Another year of negotiations followed. Maraya and the building owners discussed whether Shakarchi could paint on it, and what he could paint on it.
They liked his signature: a cloud with two x’s for eyes.
Shakarchi decided to give it a twist. He painted the clouds at a 45 degree angle with a broad colour palette and gray strips in the background.
Usually, Shakarchi picks one color – blue – and paints his entire creation with its varying shades. Yet, for Jedariya, he went with the rainbow. All things he’d never done before, especially not on a building.
It took two years to choose the right wall, get the permissions, finalize what to paint on it. They measured the wall, drilled nails into the mathematical points to ensure an accurate 45 degree angle, created stencils big enough for each cloud, and paint the background.
He had two weeks to finish.
The night before we were meant to start, I didn’t get much sleep,
admitted Shakarchi. He worried they might not pull it off.
He did it in 10 and a half days, working 12 hours a day, with two people – his friend David Mottek, and the lift-operator and fast friend Abdul – helping. “Without them, I would still be up there,” said the artist.
So why go through all that trouble? What was it all for, in the end? Why does it exist?
Well, it’s art. Art exists for the sake of existing, which is the message Shakarchi is always trying to send.
More than that, though, Shakarchi’s Jedariya exists to remind people to reach up.
Perhaps, most importantly, it exists “to make people happy.”
Good enough for me.
Have you seen Shakarchi’s wall? Tell us what you thought of the artwork in the comments below.