Photography credited to Sebastiano Vitale.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (May 27, 2016) – Set among the sport and spectacle of the most prestigious polo tournament in the Middle East, The Raw Horse Project’s collection of unique equestrian images brought an artistic and philosophical element to the HH President of UAE Polo Cup, held in the beginning of 2016 at the Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club in Abu Dhabi. A perfect complement to the region’s passion for equestrian sport, The Project’s exhibition was framed by the elegant Arabic architecture of the VIP and Hospitality sections and hosted prominent visitors including celebrities, sheiks, members of the royal family, and other prestigious guests.
Under the patronage of HH Sheikh Falah Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, chairman of the Ghantoot Racing and Polo Club, the HH President of UAE Polo Cup is held in the name of the UAE’s president and features two weeks of tournament competition culminating in the Grand Final. Known as the most exclusive and state-of-the-art polo experience in the UAE, the event also serves as a ‘must attend’ sporting and lifestyle event in the Emirate. While the qualifying matches are closed to the public, the Final welcomed all spectators to enjoy its unique combination of international polo and entertainment, including a juxtaposition of medieval falconry followed by aerial displays and choreography by military jets over the lush green fields of the historic polo club.
As a visual hymn to the relationship between horse and human, The Raw Horse depicts the sheer beauty, peace, and freedom of the equine. The images range from impressionistic to precise, and compose an optic allegory of the horse, portraying the equine as a metaphor of the ancestral human feelings of peace, nobility, fear, freedom, vivacity, sadness, and love. The limited edition fine art prints are featured in a select number of galleries from Shanghai to Los Angeles, and include a series of photographic objects and sculpture intended for collectors and private galleries. Following its debut in the Middle East, The Raw Horse Project will add Abu Dhabi to its list of local galleries, and received special interest to collaborate on projects for the Royal Family by the Prince of the UAE, HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Sultan bin Hamdan Al Nahyan.
Equestrian culture in the UAE focuses on the Sheiks and their families, who are the primary sponsors the events and owners of the venues and horses. The strong connection to religion, nature, landscape, and animals defines the atmosphere and passion for equestrian sports in this part of the world. High levels of disposable income, advancing technology, and a true enjoyment of the sport combine with traditional values and a deep bond with the natural world to make the Middle East a rapidly expanding and international caliber destination for equestrian sport. Racing and endurance riding are the preferred and featured disciplines, due in large part to the legacy of the sport and the Arabian horses that have been selectively bred and competed in the region for millennia. But the infusion of western and Spanish breeds, as well as the disciplines in which they excel, are making their mark on the Middle East’s growing equestrian demographics.
The brainchild of Italian photographer Sebastiano Vitale, The Raw Horse Project brought the spirit of the horse to Asia in 2015, where it was featured at multiple exhibitions across China to resounding approval. Following the first two exhibitions at museums in Beijing and Shanghai, the collection was invited to participate in numerous equestrian events across the country, from Cavalia’s Asian tour and the Longines Global Champions Tour Hong Kong to Dalian Beach Polo.
The primal poetry of The Raw Horse caught the attention of Cavalia creator and co-founder of Cirque du Soleil, Normand Latourelle. Vitale and his photography were selected to join the Cavalia Asian tour, based in Shanghai, and featured limited edition Raw Horse prints on display in the fantastic Cavalia show tent erected adjacent to the China Art Museum.
Vitale, who is based mainly out of the United States in winter and spring, also commissions a select number of private shoots for clients per year. His portfolio of work includes some of the biggest names in entertainment and equestrianism, including T.E.A.M. Israel’s equestrian team in Wellington, Florida, and Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, his wife, Shirley, and their Polish bred Arabians. Vitale’s photography has been featured in numerous mainstream and equestrian magazines, and his background includes more than 15 years of experience in art, mass communication, and visual journalism, creating campaigns for FIAT, the Olympic Games, RAI, and Atlanta International Airport.