Muscat: Veteran Omani artists were celebrated at the opening of a new art exhibit on Monday evening, which was entitled, “Omani Visual Inspirations.”
The exhibit at the Bait Al Zubair Foundation features more than 40 paintings of locally renowned artists, such as Anwar Sonya, Hussain Obaid, Mohammed Al Sayegh, Mohammed Fadil, Moosa Omar, and Idris Al Hooti.
The art pioneers have explored contemporary and abstract art themes, which were fed by personal experiences. Different techniques, from Arabic letter writing to heritage elements and Omani architecture featured on the canvas, and even on cloth.
Founder Sonya, who is considered the founder of the contemporary art movement in Oman, explored careful geometric design elements and intertwined them with layers of personal images, particularly featuring figures of the Omani woman. Al Hooti also explored Omani architecture, layered with Omani figures, in order to evoke a sense of beauty in community snapshots.
Sonya spoke about progress in how art has developed in Oman over the years, especially with the involvement of young artists. “Experimentation and friction between young and older artists has created a forward momentum for emerging artists.
They benefit from more educational learning curves, such as learning about art theories, and art movements. However, they also learn to respect the art in front of them and give it all of their creative contribution.” Obaid, who describes every painting of his as “a window to the painting that follows,” hopes to engage audiences with his abstract, minimalist themes, and inspire different ideas and visions through audience involvement.
He explained that this gallery exhibit is one of a kind, and should be celebrated. “We’ve long shied away from institutional collaborations; everyone here was largely working in an individual manner. We’ve all explored different directions of art, and everyone has evolved their way of thinking and how they’d like to exhibit their work,” he said. “It’s been years since we’ve worked on an exhibition together.
It’s a genuine accomplishment that this elite group has come together in this setting. It reflects a picture of cohesion and togetherness for major contemporary artists in the Sultanate,” Obaid added. Al Sayegh and Fadil have focused on giving life to Arabic letters in their paintings. Al Sayegh explored the deconstruction and the collision of various letters, illustrating them in dreamy colours like blue, orange, green, and cerulean.
Fadil used letters in order to inspire other imagery within his paintings. “I hope to bring audiences to a dream state, where worlds blend and people begin to see the visual images in the paintings, such as the frankincense tree, coffee, saffron water, and henna—all stemming from the womb of Omani cultural heritage,” Fadil explained.
Omar worked with genuine Omani cloth to depict Omani heritage stories through his use of unique embroidery, geometric design patterns, and bright colours that are eye-catching. Fadil also expressed hope for stronger art appreciation within the country.
“Artists still struggle very individually with regards to developing their work, and finding support from all facets of society.
This is especially in light of the overwhelming competition from artists in neighbouring countries,’ he said. “Appreciation is what feeds all kinds of art, whether contemporary or classical.
Appreciation begets a higher devotion to an artist’s work, as artists give away more of their time, their efforts, and even their experiences to emerging artists for them to develop as well,” Fadil added.
The exhibition, “Omani Visual Inspirations” will run until March 30 at the Bait Al Nahdah, Bait Al Zubair Foundation.