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Artists in Oman celebrate ‘Shades of White’

2 Mar 2024 shades of white 1 By HUBERT VAZ

Matti Sirvio Art Gallery holds its first juried group exhibition, titled ‘Shades of White’, which opened under the auspices of Shaikh Abdullah al Ajmi at the Alliance Business Centers Network in Double Tree by Hilton Hotel

The din prevailing in the art arena at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, minutes before this unique exhibition – Shades of White – was inaugurated, seemed to contradict the very theme of the exhibition which would apparently command serenity, silence, solitude and a sense of bliss.

But then, the excitement was palpable, as the participating artists, art enthusiasts and guests waited anxiously for the unveiling of the first juried art exhibition hosted by Matti Sirvio Art Gallery – one which sorted the goats from the sheep – showcasing the very best of talent in a way that was not just appealing but also accountable.

Of 49 entries received, only 20 had been selected by a four-member jury which sifted through the entries with sheer dexterity to handpick those which conformed to the theme in toto, exhibited varied skills with different materials, as well as presented artworks that spoke louder than what could be comprehended.

The jury comprised Muhannad Shono (Saudi Arabia) as main judge besides Rawan al Mahrouqi (Oman), Ghazaleh Beirami (Iran), and        Jarno Peltonen (Finland). About the winning entries selected by the jury for the jury’s prize, Shono listed the outstanding aspects as, ‘Their single-minded dedication to material and minimal execution which made them subtle, powerful and confident installations.’ For the honorable mention, he said, (it showed) ‘the command of the canvas, space and form. A work with vision.’

The main prize was split between 2 works – ‘Soul Dance’ Installation by Filipino artist Emerson Sumaoang and ‘Drift’ Sculpture by a Belgian artist Ami Lisa Janssens. Also, the jury has accorded an honourable mention to ‘Peace’ – a painting by Nigerian artist Patrick Unogbo.

Asked why he had chosen ‘Shades of White’ as the theme for the exhibition, Sirvio asserted, “White to me is a colour of purity – the beginning and the end. Don’t mess it up. You are privileged if you have found a way to come back to it, as often as you need to.”

About the response, he said, “We got over 49 entries and they could all have been chosen, worthy to be displayed. Our main judge, Muhannad Shono, one of the leading contemporary artists from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, chose the final list after hearing the choices of the other jurors. All of them worked without knowing the names of the artists. We hoped that this would put the emphasis on the art, not on the name, professional reputation or nationality of the the artists. I’m happy to see that seven Omani artists were chosen in the group of the 20 finalists.”

To a question about the advantage of having a jury, Sirvio said, “We are always looking for opportunities to learn, grow and improve. With the outside jury we hope to go to another level in our professionalism as a gallery. Participation in a juried exhibition will advance the artists also in their career. It’s an opportunity to be recognised by well known art influencers.”

One of Sirvio’s own works – ‘What happens in Muscat, stays in Muscat’ has also been selected for the exhibition. He shared  his own understanding of the colour white, saying, “White is one of the most challenging colours. It is humble, silent, happy to be in the background, providing the most powerful  contract to all the self-promoting colours. Without any effort, white exists everywhere in Oman – dishdashas, kummas, decorative khanjars, shells and turtle eggs on the beach, houses and sands. Oman is the cradle of all the shades of white.”

Some of the selected artists showcasing their works in this exhibition expressed great joy as well as satisfaction on being selected by the jury to exhibit their works in the first juried exhibition hosted by the gallery. All had their fingers crossed over the preceding weeks and seeing their names on the selected list of 20 artists immediately brought on smiles on their faces as they heaved sighs of satisfaction and relief, they said.

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Some participants shared insights into their artworks:

The Chess Mess – Shrikant Akojwar


Imagine a real battle occurring on a chess board where the white cubes represent the symbol of peace and the black ones represent destruction. In this artwork, the white cubes paid a huge price to win the battle and bring peace to the world. But the rules of the board have now changed…

Desert Dreams – Shashikumar Menon


It’s a meditative journey to tomorrow’s reality, a new way of seeing and experiencing the beauty of nature. Majestic dunes, stunning views, vastness and the stillness… It’s amazing and takes you to a different world!  I emptied myself on to the canvas, through illusionary forms and figures, fading shades…

One World On Family – Dr Shalini Kumar


It’s the artist representation to see the whole world as one family so that there is just peace and harmony everywhere. White is a symbol of peace and in this sculpture I used different materials of different shades of white. Just as all humans have different shades but the same body structure and blood inside…

Couple – Saleem Sakhi


The relationship between two people is one of communication and exchange of thoughts and feelings for the long journey of life, to complement each other and to make sure that hopes for continuity and harmony never end. There are some people whose souls meet before their bodies do…

My Ivory – Mona Ahmadi


‘My Ivory’ sculpture reflects the exhibition (Shades of White) theme through its white ceramic layer. It’s pure and delicate like pure emotions, but shadows and texture hint at a deeper story. ‘My Ivory’ reminds that there is more to us than what we first see.

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