Ruben Sanchez and eL Seed at The Archive

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Don’t you just love that feeling when you discover a great new place hidden away in some corner of Dubai? That’s exactly how I felt this weekend when I came across The Archive for the first time. It is a community space located at gate 5 in Safa Park and it’s a library, cafe and art center all in one. The Archive focuses on the arts and culture of the MENA region and frequently holds workshops and seminars on the topics of art, illustration, murals and all things related. Funnily enough, The Archive has been around for 8 years already and I’ve only just discovered it! (Doh! How slow am I, eh?!)

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Often featuring some pretty impressive talents, it also has an awesome collection of coffee table books to browse through and excellent food to nibble on! Exhibit A … my eggs Benedict which had some serious om nom factor.

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I stopped by because I was very eager to check out the joint live collaboration that ├╝ber talented artists Ruben Sanchez and eL Seed were working on.

To give a brief overview, Ruben Sanchez is a Barcelona-based urban artist whose inspirations include break dancing, skateboard and graffiti culture of his native Spain. He has been living here in Dubai for a year as part of Tashkeel’s art residency program and has been doing a variety of interesting projects and commissions all over the city as well as a recent solo show at Tashkeel.

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I really love his vibrant tribal style.

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His use of pattern remind me of Aztec/South American designs and motifs. Regarding his murals in particular, I love the contrast of his bright, cheerful and eclectic work on the sandy, broken down walls of Satwa. It’s like he has given these old areas a fresh new lease of life, and breathes an unexpected zest with his quirky, imaginative art.

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As for eL Seed – to put it plainly..(and not to sound like a total groupie) he is a LEGEND!! The French Tunisian street artist is known for his signature style which is a hybrid of Arab calligraphy and graffiti. He coins his unique invention as “Calligraffiti ” and believes that the art of graffiti brings people together. He is most famous for his decorative (and some say controversial) Calligraffiti work on the minaret of the Jara Mosque in the southern Tunisian city of Gabes in 2012.

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Some of his other work

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He’s also known for his artistic limited edition collaboration with designer Louis Vuitton on luggage.
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Soo..getting back to the point, these two amazing artists were joining forces for the day to beautify The Archive walls with a massive graffiti style mural. The air was heady and artistic that Friday afternoon with the addictive aroma of spray paint. It really was a sight to see and experience. The best part of it was that it was completely interactive as passers-by could partake in the project and actually join in with spray cans, impromptu style.

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No-one was excluded. In fact, even kids could have a go with their creative input!

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The joint painting paired up with the gorgeous sunny December weather at Safa Park made the energy a very infectious one, indeed!

With the intriguing projects, the massive library and the delicious food that seduces my taste buds, I have a feeling The Archive will become one of my new favorite haunts – right up there with Bastakiya!

the finished mural

the finished mural