Greek artist Nikos Zarras is currently showcasing his solo exhibition titled ‘Colours of Oman’ at the Art & Soul Gallery at Water Front mall, in Shatti Qurm. The exhibition displays photography and charcoal paintings while Nikos also demonstrates a live charcoal painting of His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik at the gallery.
Colours of Oman comprises 15 pieces of exclusive photography, 10 pieces of charcoal drawings, and two sand paintings, all of which seem to tell varied stories of Oman’s cultural past and present as seen through the eyes of the artist.
“As a Greek artist, I have explored Oman’s history, culture and nature and I always like to document my work by creating paintings and photography,” Zarras told Muscat Daily, explaining how he has been enraptured by the cultural hallmarks of the sultanate which includes not just the people but also the ancient as well a modern edifices which stand out in stark contrast from those in the rest of the world.
“The aim of this exhibition is to bring awareness to the beauty of the traditional Omani culture. Times are changing and traditions and cultures are fading over time and it is important to remind the youth through forms of art,” Zarras asserts, adding, “I have been in Oman for around ten years and in those years, I have been blessed enough to see the country bloom and advance while still being connected to its traditions in forms of architecture and landmarks.”
Architectural splendour in Oman
Zarras has taken note of many changes in the landscapes and admits that the changes have had good as well as not-so-good implications as there is a tendency to sacrifice some elements of the existing culture in the pursuit of modern living. “That’s my reason for capturing and documenting Oman,” he says, adding, “Every piece I have ever created for this exhibition was inspired by the beauty of Oman, from the way of life of the people here to the natural landscapes of this land.”
Fond of the varied architectural splendour in Muscat, especially Al Alam Palace, Royal Opera House Muscat as well as the Old Muttrah Souq and the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Zarras notes that outside the capital most of the villages are mesmerising in their own way, being juxtaposed with mountains, wadis as well as seascapes in different regions. He has captured most of these sights in his photography and charcoal drawings.
Zarras has also been featured in many articles in Greece about his artworks which include those inspired by Oman. He has always received very positive feedback as people have taken much interest in viewing as well as learning about the culture of Oman, he pointed out.
Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, Nikos had a passion for drawing from a very young age. When he moved back to Greece, painting continued to be passion even as a teenager and he chose to study Design, History of Art, Sculpture, Traditional Crafts, and Puppet Making at the Fine Art Department in the Polytechnic School of Trikala.
He later majored in Conservation of Ancient Monuments and Works of Art at the Athens Technical and Arts Institution, where he learnt not just design and restoration but also the crafting and nature of all materials used in art through the ages.
Zarras worked in Athens as a puppet designer, theatre set designer, creator of children festival sets, interior designer,and as a theatre and television animator for puppet shows. He has also worked with Greece’s most famous puppet maker, Lakis Apostolidis, for more than a decade as a puppet maker and set designer.
Over the years, he broadened his skills and expertise which now include oil paintings, iconography and wall paintings. His portfolio contains an abundance of baby rooms, churches, restaurants, interior decorating and cartoon characters that he created both, in Greece and in the UK.
Moving to the Middle East, Zarras devised a unique technique by only using pure sand without any colour for my paintings. During the short time that he has been in Oman, he already participated in Al Duqm Exhibition in Bait Muzna Gallery and later in a group exhibition at The One & Only Royal Mirage represented by the Galatea Gallery in Dubai. A few of Zarras’ sand paintings are exhibited in the Abu Dhabi Art Hub.
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