An art educator, art historian, and an artist herself, Sabrina Puppin lured us in with her concept of distorted reality and FACT’s Anushay Taimur Khan just couldn’t help but want to learn some more about this creative vision…


Hi Sabrina! Can you explain the concept behind your recent work?

I was a realistic painter till almost 10 years ago until I shifted to abstract art. Ever since my concept has remained the same. When I moved to New York, I started to investigate with reality. I used to walk around and instead of seeing a carpet, I saw an abstract image. I was curious to know if everybody had the same image in their mind or was it something different. So, from that thinking, I developed these abstract pieces and what I discovered is that each media I used created a particular effect. So, every time someone saw my work, they saw something else, they created their own reality.

When did the idea of distorted reality merge into your work?

I have been looking at my perception, the perception of the viewer and questioning what reality actually is. Is it what I see,  what you see or what others see? Or do we have our own reality? I found out that people are also looking for the same answers. It is all about distorted reality. There is an American dream, which is also my dream, where everything is shiny and golden. I always questioned if that is reality or the distortion of it. That is the entire concept for me.

What inspires you?

My visions are open-eyed dreams, which is actually just my mind that is continuously exposed and thinking in terms of painting. I am really intrigued by the concept of distorted reality. I don’t have a  formula, I never stick to one thing if I am successful at it. I just simply paint all the time and I need something different to keep growing. Experimentation is part of being an artist and I do work with other mediums but, the concept is always the same; it is all about distorted reality.

The art and culture scene is now developing in Qatar, and people are more aware now especially with exhibits like the fire station. What do you think about this development?

When I came here, there was hardly anything for art. Slowly, with Sheikha Al-Mayassa’s vision, everything developed a lot. Now, there are so many options here like the fire station. And, it is not just about museums, they have opened up their universities for this sector as well. VCU was only for design a while back and now, they have opened a painting section. As educators, they have created an environment where the younger generation can learn more. With the way things are going now, they are collaborating with different centers, and they are sending artists all over the world. It’s a skill that Qatar has now and they are giving their students the exposure that is required.

What do you think was the turning point for you in your career?

New York was a learning experience for me. If you make it in New York, you make it everywhere. The competition is huge there but, you perceive it as a collaboration. You are exposed to artists of all ages and you learn from them. We put together our work and display in other cities as well. The romantic idea of being an artist in a studio and painting is thrown out of the window in that city. You are more experimental and are keen on sending social messages. You just have to circulate around the art world there and it is not easy but, for me, the work of other artists is an eye-opener. Just a walk down the street is incredibly energetic and I have not experienced it anywhere. If you take a break for a day you feel like you are cut out and you feel like you missed out. So, the pressure is there but I really enjoy it.

Is Doha ready for your art?

Yes, definitely. I don’t give titles to my paintings and I keep it very vague. It is always about a series of painting and never about a single one because I believe if I give a title to it, I am automatically tuning you to see it in that light. My work is purely abstraction and isn’t controversial at all so it is not political in any way. Therefore, Doha is definitely ready for it!

Is there anything you would change in your art from 10 years ago?

My work grows with me, it is who I am in the moment. What I did 10 years ago was a reflection of who I was back then and right now is a reflection of the journey and experiences I have built over the year and I am really happy with the way things have turned out to be.

What do you want our readers to know about you?

I want them to look at my art, enjoy my paintings and express their ideas. As a person, I am more private and want to be seen as a reflection of my art. Previously, I was very secretive about my art and now, I am out in the open and I want it to only be about my work.

Any advice for young aspiring artists?

You have to love what you are doing. Love the creation moment, and if you are doing it to just be an artist, there is no point in doing this. I have the urgency to create and, even during the darkest moments when I gave up, I just wanted to create. You need to experiment and do not be defeated. Not everyone likes your life, not everyone is here to love what you love. Don’t look for recognition, if you do it for your love for art, it will always be worth it