Sanaa Merchant is known for traditional Arabian themes with a modern perspective. The artist’s practice ranges from ornamental works to modernism in abstract and calligraphic forms. Moreover, the use of vibrant bold colors, with their dimensional forms gives them a thought provoking process in the development. In addition to this the use of the intense pen and ink compositions seen in most of Merchant’s works gives it an extra touch of detail.
The contemporary results seen in her work break the rules of the conventional outlook usually imposed since she is influenced by Arabic contemporary styles and their enriched layered colors. The rich Islamic heritage in its teachings and Arab customs, as well as its historical role in artifacts and tradition is one of the main sources that inspire Merchant’s works, as there are many genres such as; architectural heritage, mosques, minarets, jewelry, khanjars, coins and other ornaments. The artist gets most of her exposure from her surroundings since she has been born and brought up in the United Arab Emirates.
Merchant is very fond of adding modern elements in her traditional themes such as designs that have primarily evolved from Islamic calligraphy and motifs, as well as featuring intricate patterns of geometrical shapes. Her former works have usually been medium sized watercolor paintings and in time evolved to large sized paintings on canvas. This has appealed much of her onlookers and buyers.
Furthermore, her recent works and methods have shifted focus in modern abstracts as well in her high interest in Arabic letter forms breaking from the norm to the contemporary style of lettering and abstracts. Due to the high demands of this form in art today, Merchant is constantly trying out new ideas and more art styles in up to date art practices.