Muscat: Cultural differences between people can be bridged by using the language of art, Omani painter Mohammed Al Maamari said, after the opening of his joint exhibition with prominent Italian painter Attilio Forgioli.
The first Omani-Italian exhibition in the Sultanate, ‘In the Shade, In the Sun’, was opened on Monday at the Omani Society for Fine Arts by Nasser bin Mohammed Al Busaidi, Chief of Protocol Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the presence of Italian ambassador to Oman Giorgio Visetti.
Forgioli, considered one of the most important painters in Italy, studied at the Academy of Brera in Milan. He exhibited his first paintings and drawings in the 1950s, both in Italy and abroad.
After graduating as an economist, Al Maamari never abandoned his passion for art and combined his career in the financial sector with painting. He is a rising artist who has won a number of prizes in Oman and abroad.
While the two painters are, on the one hand, very different – Al Maamari is in his thirties and Forgioli in his eighties, and they represent different cultures, languages and religions – the exhibition has brought together both artists, who have come to understand each other through art.
“This exhibition is a proud celebration between Omanis and Italians. It’s really honourable to have a collaboration with such a senior Italian artist. It’s an opportunity so many people only dream about”, Al Maamari told the Times of Oman.
Al Maamari said he recognises the differences between himself and Forgioli, yet they have enough in common to learn from each other.
“We are speaking the international language of art, and this we have in common,” he said. He added that he and Forgioli use the same techniques, working on canvas and a method called drip painting. He noted that he learns from Forgioli by applying some of his techniques, such as light colours and painting, in a more abstract way. On the other hand, Forgioli can learn by applying more realism, which is Al Maamari’s style.
Emanuela Zini, from Milan, who brought the two painters together, said she had seen the works of Al Maamari in Oman and decided to show them to Forgioli in Italy.
“He found the works very interesting, although the art is very different and their ages are different,” she said. She added that since Al Maamari had earlier trained in Italy, it was natural to connect the two. “The styles are very different, but we want to mix the cultures. Even if your culture is different, you can do things together,” she said.
Maryam Al Zadjali, Director of the Omani Society for Fine Arts, noted that this exhibition was organized to promote learning between the two cultures. “There is similarity in the composition, in the space, in the figure of the paintings. But the Italian artist is more non-figurative, while the Omani artist is more figurative,” she said.
Further, Italian ambassador Giorgio Visetti told the Times of Oman that culture is an important vehicle during these difficult times. “Culture is a very important window in which people can not only find inspiration, but also a dimension which is not just an economic dimension. This is our first joint exhibition between two artists who express their differences but, at the same time, show how these differences can be utilised. I am very happy to host this cultural event, which really connects the two peoples,” he said.