Middle East artists stand together for peace

Middle East artists stand together for peace
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Updated 12 April 2016

Middle East artists stand together for peace

Middle East artists stand together for peace

Artists from Saudi Arabia, Oman, Egypt, Algeria, Iraq and Yemen have come together in London to showcase their work and to bring a message of unity and peace to a troubled world.
Arab News met the artists at a gallery on the famous King’s Road in Chelsea where their ‘Global Creation — 1st International for Fine Art and Sculpture Exhibition’ is drawing a lot of interest.
UK based curator/organizer and artist Ali Eljubury explained his vision for the exhibition: “Because of the tensions in the Middle East I would like to prove to the world that artists are peacemakers and we can unite and stand together in one gallery.
“I want to say: “We artists are from different countries and cultures but we can work together with a great spirit.”
Saudi Arabian artist Alawiyyah Al-Amoudi, who has a warm and engaging personality, has beautiful images of women in her work. She is a strong believer in the family as the heart of society and her picture of a bride and groom on their wedding day is a lovely image of a couple embarking on their new life together.
She shows women as strong and full of creativity. She depicts women as elevated and respected in society and free to be whatever they want to be. “You can take any path you want in life without limits,” she said.
Al-Amoudi has participated in several international exhibitions and is a member of the Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts.
Fellow Saudi artist Abdulaziz Al-Amri has vivid pictures of Arabian horses. He also loves calligraphy and has his own unique interpretation of this ancient art form.
He is a member of Arabic Culture and Arts, Riyadh, and has participated in numerous exhibitions and forums in the Middle East and Europe.
Speaking of the experience of visiting London, he said: “London is a city where the people are united by love. There are no limits — no lines.”
Al-Amri said that it had always wanted to be an artist and that he had been supported in following his dream by his wife. “She has been encouraging and inspirational from the start,” he commented.
For Yemeni artist Manal Al-Fadhli, who was born and raised in Saudi Arabia, there is a desire to capture and preserve the unique culture of Yemen. The war devastated country is clearly uppermost in her mind and her artworks reflect the sorrowful impact of the present suffering.
Her painting ‘Historical Book of Yemen’ shows the struggle to hold the country and its culture together. It includes references to Queen Arwa Al-Sulayhi; she was the greatest of the rulers of the Sulayhid Dynasty.
Al-Fadhli puts North and South together in her painting, explaining: “I would like the country to be united as one.”
Her beautiful, delicate ‘Missing Story’ sculptures of bronze, silver and gold faces tell a story of loss. The faces are incomplete — all have parts missing. They are damaged and fragmented by life.
One of her works ‘Meditation’ depicts a woman praying for ‘something new — something nice’. She shows the importance of a steadfast mind.
Al-Fadhli has been painting since childhood and is constantly working to develop her skills and knowledge. She majored in Business Administration but clearly art is her key passion. In 2010 she spent a year in Florence to study art, sculpture and photography, relishing the opportunity to soak up the great masterpieces of Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Botticelli and Donatello.
Ahmed Al-Mashikhi from Oman where he is the Assistant Manager of the Omani Fine Arts Society, has a series of paintings that show the rich culture of his country. He uses color in way that transports you into the scenes he creates, making you breathe the air and sense the atmosphere.
His work, ‘The White Dove’ painted in March 2016 especially for the exhibition, shows Islam as the religion of peace. He feels this message is especially important in the present times where the religion is being hijacked by extremists who are intent on distorting the teachings.
The light in this painting shows the early dawn and radiates feelings of hope and optimism.
His painting ‘My City’ shows a scene of great tranquillity where people are at peace.
This is Al-Mashikhi’s first visit to London and he said he appreciates the organization and culture of the city. He believes that knowledge and culture exchange is very positive. One downside, he admitted, was that he was missing his family back home in Oman.
Ali Eljubury’s painting ‘Breaking the Barrier’ shows a musician lost in his art. He explained: “I know this person — he was playing music at a dinner I attended in Morocco. I took his picture and used it to do a painting. When I painted him I wanted to show the moment in art and music where you are so connected with what you are doing that you step out of normal life and go into a different world.”
Another striking work by the artist gives a very strong image of the devastating and lasting impact of traumatic events.
The work is called ‘Eyewitness’; it shows a needle and thread passing through the eye.
Eljubury explained: “This is a representation of incidents and situations in peoples’ lives that leave a scar. These are such traumatic events that they cannot be blocked out or forgotten, whether awake or asleep.”
Eljubury is committed to his work as an artist. “Art has been a passion of mine since I was eight,” he said.
Egyptian artist, Amani Zahran, is expert at showing the inner emotions and thoughts of the people she paints. Zahran, who was born in Cairo, and graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts, has had 15 solo exhibitions with her work being shown in many countries in Europe, South Asia and the Middle East.
She is unusual in combining her love of art with a career in journalism. She believes that her work as a journalist opens her eyes to many different strata of society. She admitted that her family had reservations at first about her reporting work.
“My father was concerned that my journalism would take me away from my art. I told him that I didn’t want to just stay in my studio. I wanted to go out and know people; I always look at people — especially at their hands to try and guess what work they do. I have a lot of stories and images in my mind. I always carry a notebook. If I can make a little difference to people seeing the kind of art coming out of Egypt then that is good,” she said.
Art collector and visitor to the gallery Yasir Al-Zahawi, gave his reaction to the exhibition.
“It is good that these artists have come to London from their respective countries to show their art. They give us insights into their environments. It is very positive. Many British people have been impressed by the depth of feeling in their work,” he commented.
Curator Ali Eljubury is planning another event based on the success of this first collaboration. “We have had a very good response from the public for this exhibition. People love the idea behind it and the variety of the paintings,” he said.
He has just one disappointment; unfortunately two of the artists, May Al-Nuami from Iraq and Hamed Salem Azab from Egypt whose work is included in the exhibition were denied visas to travel to the UK. “I am very upset — it would have been great if they could have been here and part of our group,” he said.
For the artists the whole experience of sharing the art space and appreciating each other’s work has had a bonding effect. Eljubury sees their time in London as very rewarding.
“Every day we have gone out together to Central London to enjoy the sites and galleries. We eat out together for lunch and dinner as one family,” he concluded.

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