Trailblazer – Nathaniel Alapide
The pursuit of what he loves has brought Nathaniel Alapide to where he is now — a comfortable and scenic work spot where he gets to do what he does best, topped with the reputation of an artist who has added to Dubai’s unique imagery to the world.
A prominent sand artist in the UAE, Nathaniel first got interested in the art when he created a grand display of love for his grandmother – which soon paved the way for opportunities outside of the Philippines.
Having found a home at Dubai’s Rixos Premium, JBR, where he transferred after a prolific stint at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Nathaniel creates ephemeral sand art pieces that have gained international recognition and have contributed to the city’s points of interest. This year saw him being commissioned to do art for Hazza Almansoori, UAE’s first astronaut. He was also featured on Italian National Television, the UAE national news agency WAM, Gulf News and Khaleej Times among other platforms. Nathaniel also created an art installation for DIFC Art Night.
The Filipino creative community takes pride in having Nathaniel as a representative of an art form that is far from the usual. The humble artist says he takes comfort in knowing that he made a contribution in his own way, “That somehow I was able to enrich the art community and the culture here even just for a little bit.”
Many of today’s artists turn towards the convenience of digital platforms for the creation and preservation of their art. On the other hand, Nathaniel Alapide has made a name as a rare artist who creates his passion pieces on a medium as ephemeral as sand, in the process making an indelible mark in the hearts and minds of the people and visitors to the Emirates.
Since we first featured the artist in 2016, Nathaniel’s works have piqued the interest not only of beach-bound visitors but also of local and international media, as well as netizens in and out of the country. In fact, in recent years, his work has become synonymous to the eternal sun-kissed beach life in the UAE. Moving from the shore to the gallery in May 2018, Nathaniel also showcased his art as part of a group exhibit representing the Philippines with 10 other artists from Australia, Canada, Iran, UAE, UK in The Diving Bell & The Butterfly exhibit curated by Anna Seaman, held at artist hotspot Al Serkal Avenue in Dubai. The year also saw Nathaniel moving to a new professional home as he moved from the Jumeirah Beah Hotel to the hip Rixos Premium Hotel – Jumeirah Beach Road.
Nathaniel’s choice of a fleeting art form perhaps exemplifies the artist’s appreciation for life and for things that go beyond the physical realm. He reveals, “My guiding light has always been about following that very thing that makes me feel alive – my passion for creativity, and sharing it and making it a tool to make the community I am living in, a little bit better.” He adds, “I would advise our fellow Filipinos to be a lot kinder to themselves, keep doing the things that make them feel alive and realize that they are a part of something bigger.”
Special thanks to our sponsors: Emirates Airline, Stars n Bars La Mer, Liali, Instax – Grandstores UAE, Dusit Thani Dubai, Gver – Your Friendly Marketplace for Sharing, Meeting Dancewear , MPQ, CMG, Filbrit, and our partners Rozen Antonio Photography, Alex Callueng Photography, Jef Anog Photography, and Ethereal Photography.
100 Most Influential Filipinos in the Gulf: Nathaniel Alapide – Painter/Sand Artist
He believes that there is always uniqueness in the arts because humanity as a whole wants to see “a new language of expression” and that humanity always wants to see something different.
“But, you have to remember too that whatever discipline you are in – whether a photographer, a writer, a musician, a painter, a dancer, a singer, a designer – that whatever you do if you have one thing that’s unique, you can make good art. It’s okay to copy in the beginning because most of us only find our voices after we’ve sounded like other people,” says Nathaniel Alapide. “But the one thing that you have that nobody else doesn’t is YOU. So eventually if you continue doing your craft that’s unique, YOU will always show your uniqueness from the work that you do.”
And unique, he is. Nathaniel is well-known for his ephemeral large scale murals created on the sands of Jumeirah beach, giving Dubai-watchers another thing to marvel about. Last year, he also earned the honor of having his first one-man-show in his hometown of Antipolo.
On sand, his most memorable works are “La Gioconda” (Mona Lisa) and the mural of a “Tree” that he made in memory of his grandmother. “The Mona Lisa because every person that sees it knows who she is and they are always in awe seeing it, maybe because it’s something that they would not expect to see on the beach,” he says. “The Tree because a lot of people can connect with the story of why I did it. I think that it’s because everyone has a loving grandmother and we all want to remember and cherish the memories and love that they shared with us.”
The barefoot artist dreams ever so constant, “I want to go around the world and create sand art in every country as much as possible. I want to share my art with the world and make our fellow Filipinos proud of who we are!” he says.
Photography by: Mox Santos
Illustrado 100 was made possible by sponsors: Giordano, Liali Jewellery, Mitsubishi UAE- Al Habtoor Motors, Michael Cinco Couture, Mapúa Institute of Technology, Centro – Amwaj Rotana Hotel , Max’s Restaurant Middle East and GVER – Your Friendly MarketPlace for Sharing
Co-Sponsors: Herschel Supply Co., Rove Hotels, The Medical City – Dubai , Filipino Institute UAE, MPQ Tourism, JAMES Travel and Tours Dubai, Off the Hook Seafood Restaurant, The Original Barrio Fiesta Restaurant – Dubai and Tapa King UAE.
Read more Illustrado 100 on www.illustradolife.com