A Review of  ‘The Art Maze’ by Artist Sacha Jafri and Art Visionary Marcus Schaefer from Eco-artist, Philanthropist, and WOW Magazine contributor Natalia Kapchuk.

Natalia Kapchuk—On the 23rd of March 2022, coinciding with the festivities of Expo 2020 Dubai, I had the pleasure of observing the creative mind of Marcus Schaefer as he partnered with internationally renowned artist Sacha Jafri to debut their creation ‘The Art Maze.’ The location of this event was remarkable as I found myself suspended 212 metres above sea level, on the only 7-star hotel in the world, set on a man-made island on Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Jumeirah helipad, which extends out from the remarkable structure.

Dubai’s Burj Al Arab Jumeirah Hotel Featuring the Installation ‘The Art Maze’ on the Structures Helipad

Pointedly titled, ‘The Art Maze’ is an elaborate 12-metre-by-12-metre steel gallery featuring 30 works of Jafri inspired by UNESCO’s World Heritage sites. The debut of this five day launch, welcomed global art lovers and collectors, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and the who’s who of Dubai. Leaving many inspired, this project highlights the three pillars at the core of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), which focuses on education, science, and culture.

‘The Art Maze’, a 12-metre-by-12-metre steel labyrinth gallery by Marcus Schaefer.

The mission of UNESCO is to promote, protect, and preserve the history and anthropology of each World Heritage Site. To pay homage to the most breathtaking places on our planet in a creative way for public resonance, the organization had to think BIG, therefore tapping the talents of visionary Marcus Schaefer and artist Sacha Jafri. As a result, ‘The Art Maze’ came into being.

As an artist who travels the globe, garnering inspiration for future projects, I found myself in awe of the places depicted by Jafri—some that I’ve had the pleasure to discover myself, and others I’m excited to see. In the next two years, slated to travel to all four corners of the world, ‘The Art Maze’ world tour kicked off in the city of Dubai at the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah helipad.

Following some of the venue’s most memorable events like the exhibition match between tennis stars Andre Agassi and Roger Federer and French DJ David Guetta for his ‘United At Home’ concert series for charity, this first-of-a-kind experience merges the worlds of architecture and art curation.

Regional Vice President and General Manager of Burj Al Arab, Ermanno Zanini

“Through our collaboration with Schaefer and Jafri, we are giving guests the chance to be part of the captivating history of Burj Al-Arab and discover a one-of-a-kind exhibition in a unique setting.”

—Regional Vice President and General Manager at Burj Al-Arab, Ermanno Zanini

The genius behind the design of Marcus Schaefer’s labyrinth-like gallery allows visitors to determine their own pathway, conceiving an experience where ‘the journey is the destination.’ This sentiment, in my opinion, is a byproduct of his ultimate goal of crafting unique platforms for fellow artists to showcase their work beyond the traditional bounds set.

Global Art Visionary & Curator, Marcus Schaefer

“Just like real life, the visitors of our Art Maze have the opportunity to choose which path to take. The end point hence becomes the starting point; an eternal cycle in which the journey is the destination. We get to reflect on the unique beauty that surrounds us – without losing sight of the big picture”.

—Marcus Schaefer

Venturing the steel walls of ‘The Art Maze’ lies 30 works from contemporary artist Sacha Jafri, famously known for creating the world’s largest painting on canvas, Journey of Humanity, which took an impressive seven months to produce during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I should note: this unwavering dedication and determination is not uncommon for the artist as the 30 oil and acrylic works presented by Jafri were completed in a mere six weeks, while preparations for the exhibition surprisingly started only six months prior. Jafri plans to create 20 additional paintings for the ‘The Art Maze’ Paris show, which will run from Sept.12-18 later this year.

Contemporary British Artist, Sacha Jafri

At the press conference before the unveiling in Dubai, he had this to say:

“It has been the hardest six months of my life. Yesterday, I painted 28 hours without stopping. No food, no water, nothing. I was like a walking ghost,”

— Artist, Sacha Jafri

Having tirelessly completed 30 plus mixed media works myself for my most recent project,The Lost Planet (2021) series, I understand the sentiment of being lost in one’s work, losing all sense of time.

The artworks showcased served their purpose of inviting people to understand more about these 30 World Heritage Sites. I thoroughly enjoyed the use of vibrant colors and the diverse selection of destinations. Jafri previously mentioned that this collection of artworks took six weeks to complete, although it did not show in the pieces themselves. To add, its reported that each of these works alone hold an estimated price listed between $1-2,000,000 dollars!

I couldn’t help the feeling that these paintings were a child’s rendition of the serene Lumbini Province of Nepal or the striking Taj Mahal mausoleum in India, for example.

However, maybe that was the intention. The mission of artist Sacha Jafri was to introduce the world (younger audiences included) to different sites and cultures, connecting humanity to the world around us. So it is quite feasible that the artist paired down the intricacies he’s best known for, for something more digestible and universal.

Regardless of intention, his message is one that’s clear and rings true. Humanity has in fact become disconnected. With the continued concern of the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing conflicts seen across the globe, tools like the powerful nature of art can be a bridge to reconnect us all. I believe wholeheartedly we as people will return to what’s most important— love and mutual respect for one another.

“I am a father of two girls and am worried about the next generation. I’m worried for our planet. I’m worried for the sustainability and for the education.”

— Artist, Sacha Jafri

It’s beautiful to witness that those with a platform and power to foster change, use it for the greater good. I am eager to see what the rest of ‘The Art Maze’ tour has to offer and how its impact affects the world at large.  I welcome you to visit ‘The Art Maze’ website at https://www.theartmaze.com to learn more about this unique experience and how you can discover the creative minds of global artist Sacha Jafri and art visionary Marcus Schaefer for yourself.