For Hassan Meer, a household name in art in Oman, art has been a long journey that keeps taking different turns as he goes ahead with life. And his apartment in Azaiba is testimony to his passion as an artist.
From colourful paper windmills fluttering in his balcony to the intricate designs woven on his living room carpet, and select canvasses adorning different walls, Meer makes sure to have an adequate amount of art surrounding his home without going overboard. And, his love for birds is evident from table decor placed around his parlour while live chirping from budgies and a pet parrot makes that fact sink in.
“I was encouraged to develop my talent for art right from childhood and the journey continued as I attended a youth art studio, then joined the Fine Arts Society in Oman as well as pursued formal art education at Savannah College of Art and Design, Georgia, US. I had been a full-time artist some year ago, but right now, I manage Stal Gallery as well as work for a government establishment in the field of art and design. So, my whole life has been all about art,” admits Meer, who is keen to add that he does not impose his love for art on his family members in any way.
Being a celebrated artist in Oman for over two decades, Meer has participated in numerous exhibitions as well as nurtured young artists in Oman by helping them let their artistic talents grow and flourish in line with their individual instincts. He also notes the evolution of art in Oman over the years, from two-dimensional canvases to mixed media installations wherein art can now be an experience for the senses and not just a feast for the eyes.
“I now spend more time nurturing art, than with my own art. When you teach art, you spread knowledge. I started in the 80s and I know the country very well, so now it is my choice to promote art and provide guidance to young artists. It don’t expect all artists to do that but it has become a mission of my life,” says Meer.
About living with art, Meer asserts that it is something that is very natural for him and that he makes no conscious effort to surround himself with art. However, he adds, “Art raises the quality of life. Art adds to your comfort, it gives you your own zone to relax. I do not put up all of my own work, I also have work of other artists, all of which makes me feel good.
Meer has also designed the interiors of his home and makes sure that everything placed in each room complements the other things around. He also changes the arrangement of furniture as well as the art on display periodically to bring in freshness to the ambience in each room. That stems from his inert quest to bring in something new, something unique, in every aspect of life, so as not to get stuck in a rut.
As for influencing his family members with his passion, Meer says, “I do not force my art on others, especially my family members, though they are living with an artist and cannot escape art. But, whether at home or outside, I do not compel them to follow my artistic tendencies; even when we go on a trip, they do not have to follow me to art galleries. I feel, they need to experience art in their own way and follow it only if they feel the desire deep within.”
Observing that in Oman not many people are really fond art, he asserts that even if one cannot afford an original work, art does play a part in enhancing the quality of life. “Today, art is something which you can touch and feel and experience. It is something that appeals to all senses. And if you understand art, it does raise the quality of your life,” he adds.