Noor Al Suwaidi's (1981) work explores the realms of portraiture and figurative abstraction. She rejects traditional representation, focusing on the more formal elements of painting. Color relationships, rather than real world depictions, become the subject of her work. In removing the setting and instead focusing on the face, the artist chooses not to offer her viewers the complete story.

Al Suwaidi employs unnatural colors, which exist independently of the subject’s true colors. She places flat planes of unnatural color against one another without blending, and employs one or two colors to cover the negative (empty) spaces on her canvas in an execution influenced by the modernist master, Matisse’s “genius of omission.” Her brightly colored canvases comprised of bold shapes offer the illusion of figurative forms, without imposing specific images. She thus leaves it up the viewer to contribute depth and dimension to the images, in a similar manner in which one finds images in clouds.

Al Suwaidi’s works take shape in a spontaneous, rather than a preconceived manner as she sketches her subject matter. She adds an emotional dimension to her artwork through chromatic tension and contrast; thus, color infuses her lines and shapes with life. The artist likens the lines in her work to handwriting.

“Handwriting is the most human of abstractions. Each letter, every time, is slightly different and - notwithstanding those nuances - our minds discern key shapes, place them into pre-set moulds and make sense of the whole: a letter. My drawing is my own handwriting of portraiture and the framework for my palette, which to me, highlights the temperature of the shapes.”

Noor Al Suwaidi studied Visual Communication at the American University of Sharjah. She carries a BA in Studio Art from the American University (Washington DC, USA) and an MA in Curating Contemporary Design from Kingston University (London, UK). Her work has been exhibited in group and solo exhibitions in the UAE, UK and the US. Most recently, Noor's work is currently being showcased in the US Ambassador to the UAE's residence in Abu Dhabi as part of Beyond the Frame: Contemporary Art in the Emirates. The exhibit, which opened with a reception on November 17, presents the work of Emirati artists alongside American artists residing in or having strong ties to the UAE.