Portrait of a Generation includes the work of fifty-six different artists from 23 different countries, all residents of the United Arab Emirates. The call for work invited artists to submit portraits that “serve both to encapsulate the personality of the subject and to portray the image of place and time, here and now.” The resulting works are diverse in both character and execution, and, whilst not always capturing a physical likeness of a person, more significantly, summarizing their indefinable essence – character, manner, mood, attitude, presence and their unspoken history – as perceived by the artist. Together these works construct a remarkable picture of contemporary portraiture, as seen by artists in the UAE.

Amongst the wide-ranging styles and approaches, Atul Panase presents sensitive watercolours, capturing the gentleness of his subjects and communicating with deft brushstrokes their kind and generous personalities. Emirati artist Mattar Bin Lahij presents a bold, stylized image, featuring a powerful silhouette of the head which portrays a more general statement about humanity. Whilst Saeed Al Shamsi presents very simple photographs of two ethnic characters whose direct stare reflects their honest simplicity. Young UK artist Rebecca Rendell, on the other hand, uses a combination of etching and transfer print to reconstruct the human face from a series of measurements, reassembled in an abstract form to question the definition of the portrait.