Australian artist Guido van Helten was recently in Dubai where he spent some time working on a monumental jigsaw.

Measuring 135 metres long and 12 metres high in total, and organised by Red Bull Curates, the monumental project took Guido a total of 288 hours to complete. Spread over 18 days, under the boiling heat of Dubai, the project became soon a challenge. But despite this fact, Guido managed to give shape to a massive piece consisting on a series of shipping containers , painted out of formation and later rearranged with cranes in order to reveal the final work.
Two 100-tonne cranes had to be used over the course of 48 hours to position the painted containers. The completed installation consists of a pair of eyes. The inspiration behind the piece came about after Guido scoured the city, looking for a subject, when he came across a man working nearby the site. About the subject, Guido said:

“One of the young guys, probably about my age, was shy when I took a photo of him, but I saw honesty in his eyes and that’s what I liked about it. These people are honest, hardworking people and I had many images to work from but a lot of them weren’t that suited to the space and I can’t really explain much better than that. It’s based on feeling some sort of soul.”

This project brought Guido van Helten to the UAE for the first time. About his experience in Dubai, he said:

“I didn’t realise that it was such a diverse place, I didn’t realise how many different cultures there are in this city. I think our exploration has been about trying to find some soul to a place, and before I came here I had no idea what this city was about. It’s generally seen as a place of money and wealth, and I like the fact that most of the people that I’ve encountered have been down to earth, warm, generous people who have been very welcoming. The subject of the piece was very unexpected; he was an unexpected choice out of all the people we met.”

The artwork will remain on permanent display at Autism Rocks Arena near Dubai Outlet Mall, on Al Ain Road, Dubai.

Guido van Helten
Part visual artist, part anthropologist, Guido Van Helten, 29, is an Australian contemporary artist dedicated to paint large-scale, site-specific mural works. His subjects are black and white and sepia toned portraits, like old photographs that speak of the history and stories of the places and people he visits.

More about Guido on Facebook  Website Instagram

Guido was assisted by Bjorn Loki.
Images and video by Selina Miles


Author: Fran

Founder and editor of Urbanite. Street Art lover who after the finishing her MA thesis on the muralist movement in the 1920-50s, developed a fascination for street art and graffiti that eventually led to collaborations with different art blogs, including the creation of this one.