Inspired by culture

It’s not often that one dwells upon the lives of those featured on canvas. While a layman may not give them much thought, they are of paramount importance to the artists who bring their subjects’ fleeting moments to permanence.

At the Bait Muzna Gallery, an Omani man gazes out from the canvas intently as he kneels next to his camel, while two Omani women look immersed in the music from their cellos. The trickle of colours from their clothes and surroundings give an impression of a painting magically formed by hues hurled at the canvas. Besides these, works featuring calligraphy and Oman's architecture amaze with their accurate details. They look real and trace the roots of Oman's culture.

The devotion Juma al Harthy and Mohammed al Maamari share for Oman's culture is obvious through their artworks showcased at the Rozna exhibition, which opens today at 7pm at Bank of Beirut's headquarters in Ghubra.

The two artists take great pride in their work and hope the creations attract guests given their vast coverage of Oman's heritage and culture.

Harthy brings out a riot of colours on his wood canvases through his vivid depiction of Oman's windows which feature carvings and motifs inspired from Jabreen Castle, while Maamari's works depict the sentiments of villagers. Concepts from the Nizwa Fort and the buildings of Al Hamra in Dakhliyah find place in Maamari's works too.

Harthy said, “The exhibition will feature a total of 20 art pieces which will provide a glimpse of our varied culture. Both Maamari's and my works talk volumes about the diversity of Oman. Striking colours always attract the eye, so I tried to make my work as colourful as possible. Taking inspiration from traditional heritage structures, I have incorporated carved wood pieces in my work. My works also depict geographical diversity as I have chosen subjects from Turkey, Spain and India that appealed to me.”

“The ceilings of Jabreen Castle and the intricate work on its ceilings have been shown on my canvases. I have always believed that the story of Oman's culture should be told to people. Hence, I have tried to make the ten art pieces of mine that will be showcased look as real as possible. History and Omani civilisation are the cornerstone of my creativity on wood canvas,” said Harthy.

Light and shadows expert Maamari said that he is excited about the exhibition. “Islamic patterns find their way into my creations. My works showcase old buildings and Omani subjects. I have been inspired by Stevens, a Hungarian artist who uses ‘drop colour patterns’. In most of my paintings, you will see colours flowing down in streams. They look like tears of colours.”


The artists said that the exhibition also seeks to promote the development of art in Oman. “This exhibition is not just about highlighting our work but for  developing art in the country. We need to walk a long way to establish a fast moving art culture here. We are working towards this aim. Harthy and I will be attending a workshop here which will facilitate cultural exchanges with artists from Italy.” They will also be travelling around the world to promote Omani concepts, Maamari noted.

This is not the first time Maamari and Harthy are teaming up. They have taken part in many exhibitions and workshops together.

“We have an excellentunderstanding of each other's creative pursuits and have been working together from a long time. Harthy has a very good way of portraying his themes and I am still catching up with him,” Maamari said.

Though what inspires their creativity is the same, what differs is their modes of expression. Harthy's artistic journey began at an young age when he drew sketches on the sand and carved miniature animals out of wood and clay.

He recently took part in a series of art workshops in Italy and had just returned to Oman.

For Maamari, art began with a lead pencil and his love for surrealism gradually grew. He has exhibited his works not only in Oman, but also in Paris, Kuwait, Egypt and the UAE.

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