Muscat: The wooden figures and animals displayed around the Omani Society for Fine Arts (OSFA) in Sarooj elicited a lot of curious looks and made many smile. After all, it's not every day that old branches and roots are displayed to reveal their inner creatures.
The dancing women, yogis, people on horseback, ducks, swans, rats, camels and other creatures were all part of Floral-Fauna, an exhibition by Indian artist Bimal Saigal which opened on Monday evening. Saigal, who is a diplomat at the Embassy of India in Oman, takes discarded tree branches, old vines and dead roots and with a few cuts and moderations, turns them into recognisable figures.
The exhibition, inaugurated by His Highness Sayyid Mohammed bin Salim Al Said, Chief of Protocol at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was Saigal's first, though he has been creating this body of work for the past 25 years.
"I'm so happy. I feel proud and privileged to be here tonight. It's a dream accomplished," Saigal said.
Prior to Monday's opening, his work had decorated his home, so this was a welcome opportunity for him to see people's reactions to it.
"Everybody's so amazed. I've never shared this openly with anyone, so when people came to know the things I do, they were surprised," he added.
Maryam Al Zadjali, director of the OSFA, said this was the first time this kind of art was being displayed in the gallery. She hoped people would come and see it to appreciate how art can be found in the most ordinary objects.
"Normal people can't see these kinds of things. They don't recognise it. But the special eyes of the artists can see the beauty of things," Al Zadjali said.
When Saigal first showed his work to Al Zadjali, she was immediately impressed and knew that an exhibition was essential since it was the kind of art people had never seen in Oman. "I think art like this is a wonderful escape, a different kind of exhibition," she said.
J. S. Mukul, Ambassador of India to Oman, said he was very proud of his deputy for putting up the exhibition as it highlighted the talents of the Indian community here. He thanked the OSFA and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations for assisting Saigal with the show.
"You don't associate diplomats with such a level of artistic talent, but we're really proud of him. As you see, the response from both the Omani and Indian communities is wonderful," said Mukul.
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