Top artists showcase work at Bait Al Zubair
August 19, 2017 | 9:49 PM
by Times News Service
The exhibition marked the last day of the First International Bait Al Zubair Art Forum.

Muscat: Artists from around the world recently completed an art challenge based around the theme of Omani architecture.

The challenge was part of the First International Bait Al Zubair Art Forum, in which 20 artists met and worked together between August 12 and 16. Omani and foreign artists received awards and held an exhibition on Thursday, August 17.

A spokesperson for the project said, “There are details to iron out, but we hope to turn this forum into an annual event.”

During the exhibition, which will remain in place in Bait Al Zubair for two more weeks, the General Manager of the Al Zubair Foundation, Dr Mohammed Abdul Karim Al Shahi, said, “These exhibitions are important to us because they add value to the arts movement, and also because they lead to an exchange of information between different art styles and schools by people, who are well known in their own fields.”

Hussain Obaid, whose speech represented the artists, said, “It is my honour to represent us in this speech, which I’d like to begin with thanking everyone whose efforts made this possible.”

Colourful spaces

He added, “We gaze upon these colourful spaces and then speak of them with a logical mind.”

The exhibition marked the last day of the Bait Al Zubair’s First International Art Forum, which brought together nine Omani pioneers and brought in award-winning artists from the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the surrounding region, as well as artists from Russia, Germany, and Azerbaijan. Although the artists subscribed to various styles, they all said, “Drawing is about expressing yourself, but there’s also a freedom in it. I wouldn’t be able to pick one thing to paint, and I can’t really say what my favourite thing to paint is.”

Sami Al Siyabi, an artist from Muscat, said, “If I could only draw one thing... portraits of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said.”

According to information by Bait Al Zubair, the artists arrived on August 11. After visits and tours, the artists spent four days capturing Omani architecture in two paintings. Al Siyabi said, “It was very different to have a time limit for your painting. I often take about a month, or even a month and a half. There was pressure, but it was also fun.”

Each artist brought in his or her own ideas to Omani architecture through the paintings. Elena Shapovalova, a participant from Russia, said, “I’m a minimalist painter at heart. When we were touring, I was struck by a solid simplicity in old Omani architecture. I couldn’t tell you which town that was, but it was beautiful. That’s why I chose to paint that building against a solid, vibrant blue.”

Sara Khalafi from Iran said, “I’ve often thought that Islamic architecture is about roofs. It’s always the first thing you notice. That’s why I drew the domes of mosques, incorporating gold leaf into the painting, and putting that in front of chandeliers.”

Many of the artists believed that there is more to art than just the visual aspects.

Nahar Marzooq of Saudi Arabia said, “Art is always about the message. In a way, it’s something that you present not just as an object, but a societal contribution. It has to be able to do something in the world. That is why I tried to incorporate a little Arabic calligraphy into my piece. There are words and rain drops. You know the proverb: The start of a flood is a droplet. I think that messages are like that too.”

Idris Al Hooti of Muttrah said, “I work in layers. To be honest, these two paintings you see are versions 16 and 17 of my interpretations of Souq Al Dhalam (Market of Darkness in Muttrah), but they also represent the gradual change in women’s traditional garbs throughout the years. If you look, these main arches here are an outline. Earlier, there were face and head coverings too. What I was trying to say is that a woman is a gate to a city. Every painting I work on contains a woman somewhere.”

Al Zubair Foundation GM Al Shahi added, “We at Bait Al Zubair are trying to diversify our interests because of our vision to become a pioneer in cultural responsibility.”

The ceremony concluded with gifts given to artists, as well as from artists to Al Zubair Mohammed Al Zubair, vice chairman of the Al Zubair Corporation.

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