Gailani Art Retreat Exhibition in Oman evokes good response
June 15, 2015 | 5:18 PM
by Times News Service

Muscat: Visitors were enthralled by something unique in the form of an art exhibition that made a visual statement. There were moving lights, performance art with morphed dancers, and curated stories of emotions rather than art technique.

City Seasons Hotel Muscat was packed on Saturday, June 13, with more than 400 art enthusiasts, all aiming to glimpse pieces of art produced at the Gailani Art Retreat over the past year titled “Voices from Within”.

“It was never meant to be about the art. ‘Voices from Within” was a statement about life’s journeys, about perseverance, and the human spirit and the courage of the participants to display those stories to all. Tonight, the real stars are the participants of the Gailani Art Retreat, stars that shine brighter and are layered with more beautiful colours than the art in this room it is about,” stated Ibrahim Gailani, founder of the Art Retreat and curator of the show.

Carefully selected

The event featured 65 paintings that were carefully selected over the past one year and featured a mix of established artists and first-timers. Each painting ware curated in detail by Gailani giving the viewers an insight on the professional background of each artist, the number of times they attended the art retreat, and the topic/theme to which the painting was interpreted and the ‘artist’s statement’ capturing the sentiments they were going through while creating the piece.

“Getting the curation right was the key to making this exhibition a success. We wanted the audience to feel as if they were there at the retreat during the creation of that piece. It was important that a personal connection was made between the viewer and the artist, because that is the essence of the retreat. And I am so glad that everyone has paused and read the write-ups in detail. In fact, we have had people take pictures of the curated placards and post them on social media right here from the show,” said Huma, wife of Gailani, and the manager of the Gailani Art Retreat.

Other twist

The other twist the show had was that instead of one guest of honour or the chief guest, all the different participants and artists who had attended the art retreat in the past season were invited on stage to cut the ribbon.

“It was like a gathering of old friends, seeing them, their paintings, and their stories of what they visualised during the painting process. It is incredible to see it all come together under one roof. I would not have missed it for the world and even changed my flight plan to Sweden to attend this,” said Viki Padersaon, a Swedish art retreat participant who had attended over 10 such retreats.

Emotional and overwhelming

“It was quite emotional and overwhelming. We felt so special, as if this was our moment and we were the shining stars. It was really a night I will not forget,” were the words of Abdullah Al Busaidi who had three pieces displayed at the exhibition. He had attended over 22 retreats and was one of the first few artists to sell a piece in the exhibition. Although the art on display was there to make a statement and not really to be sold, a price-list was available on request and a good number of paintings were sold to enthusiasts.

Adding to the trendy and unique vibe to the evening were seven multi-coloured morphed suit performance artists who were enacting emotions on stage. According to Gailani, they were depicting the emotions of “love, desire, anger, and betrayal, along with hurt and bullying” as a representation of the emotions of the paintings on stage. Later on, the morph-suit performers interacted with guests and took pictures alongside the paintings.

Gailani Art Retreat and City Seasons Hotel Muscat jointly presented this “Voices from Within” Art Retreat to commemorate the completion of a year in the partnership between the two.

Amazing collaboration

“This has been a really amazing collaboration showcasing art and talent in our hotel. It is also a feature that our in-house guests can experience by participating in these events,” were the sentiments of Ahmed Al Raisi, deputy general manager of City Seasons and a regular at the Gailani Art Retreat.

Located on Al Sultan Qaboos Street, City Seasons Muscat is in the heart of the Capital’s diplomatic and commercial districts. City Seasons Muscat is an ideal destination for conferences, business travels, special occasions and family holidays. With 334 rooms including suites and fully furnished 65 apartments, combining unparalleled luxury with contemporary elegance and comfort, City Seasons is all geared up to usher in the new wave of “art-retreat” tourism that it will embark on.

Gailani runs the “Art Retreats” twice a month, and has held over 30 art retreats with over 500 attendees. These retreats are open to people from all walks of life that are looking for a “day-out” to express themselves through art. It is a form of release and it aims to provide “me-time” where participants disconnect for nine hours in a day and just tap into their creative side. The art exhibition “Voices from Within” is geared to become an annual event and will showcase selected pieces of each season or year.

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