One of just 25 artists chosen to take part in last year’s nationwide Proud Expressions exhibition, 15-year-old Mohammed Aadil Kallivalappil’s painting of a mother and her soldier son (pictured, below) won him great acclaim among fellow artists and leaders for his tribute to the UAE’s heroes and their families. Editor Rachael Perrett chats with him about his achievements and painting a unique side of our city
How old were you when you started painting?
I was something like 11 years old. My father realised my talent when he saw me create a sketch of a teddy bear using a permanent marker. When he noticed my talent, he sent me to an art class. From then, I was inspired to explore a variety of different artistic media. My parents, teachers, brother and whole family are a support for me. Parents should be very supportive of their children, depending on what they want to do and what their passion is.
Where do you get your inspiration?
From famous artists, or whichever museum or art gallery I visit. I like – da Vinci and Emirati artist Abdul Qader Al Rais; I met him [recently]. He saw my work and encouraged it.
The UAE is focusing on improving education in the arts and supporting emerging artists. Do you think this is important?
Yes, they are very inspirational and supportive, especially the leaders. They promote artists by receiving exhibitions and taking part in auctions. In the UAE, it’s completely different for artists; they have public exhibitions and the country’s leaders may come [to see it]. For example, I recently met the minister of state for youth affairs (Shamma Al Mazrui) who was very supportive of my art. She encouraged me to continue [painting] more on the UAE and urban life. It has always been my dream of contributing to the Emirati arts scene.
What is next for you?
I opted for GCSE art [at school] so I can pursue the subject in the future. With art I could do so many things like animation. The urban life series I am starting now is part of my GCSE project. I’m trying to show the development of Abu Dhabi. People paint the famous buildings or sheikhs, so I’m trying to do something different. For example, the labour camps of Mussafah, no one has painted this; I’m trying to go into something unique. There are so many competitions I want to enter, too, but let’s see what happens.
To see more of Mohammed Aadil’s work, visit: aadilart.wordpress.com