THREE ARTISTS BRING ALIVE OMAN WITH COLOURS

Artists Farah Asqul, Yousuf al Nahwi and Saleh al Alawi have come together for the first time in an exhibition titled Another World, which will open at Gallery Sarah on Monday.

“Colour is very important,” says Yousuf al Nahwi as he points to the canvases that hang on Gallery Sarah’s walls. “It reflects how you feel and what you want to express. For us artists, it is the bridge that connects us with the rest of the world,” Nahwi adds, looking for a sign of approval from his friends.

Almost instantaneously, he gets a collective nod from fellow artists Farah Asqul and Saleh al Alawi. Nahwi jokes about how the three of them agree on almost everything. “That’s why we are a team,” he says.

The trio has come together for the first time to recreate their individual artistic genius on a common platform in an exhibition titled ‘Another World,’ which will open at Gallery Sarah on Monday.

The camaraderie between the artists is discernible as they move around the gallery discussing the works that they plan to exhibit. “We are best friends and this makes it easier to work with each other,” says Nahwi.

The idea of exhibiting together first came about when Farah, who is also the general manager of Gallery Sarah, was trying to rope in Nahwi and Alawi for an exhibition.

“We have known each other for many years now, and Nahwi was the first person to exhibit when we opened this gallery. We were always going to do another one with him. But when I discussed the idea, Nahwi said he would only do it if I exhibited along with them,” she says. Farah agreed immediately.

Interestingly, the trio barely took two to three weeks to put all their paintings together. “But we have been working on these artworks for a very long time now. I started some of my paintings over a year ago,” says Farah.

What they bring to the table is a riot of colours – neons, bright blues and reds, and earthy shades of brown. The theme that binds them are elements from Oman – a recurring subject in all their paintings.

For instance, Farah’s artworks have patterns inspired from Mashrabiya designs. She has also found space for machines, which one finds at construction sites all over the sultanate.

“Ever since I came back to Oman, I have seen a lot of construction happening everywhere. It is something that is both striking and overwhelming,” says Farah, explaining why she chose it as a subject for her work.

Another element that Farah has used is the power transmission unit. “I see the units as sculptures because of their criss-cross design. In my eyes, they look very grand, almost like people, who are here to protect us.”

Alawi and Nahwi, on the other hand, veer into themes ranging from landscapes, culture and heritage.

Alawi has played with fluorescent colours in his paintings, yet they look almost realistic. “That’s what makes it a great piece of art,” says Nahwi, adding that it feels like these bright colours are actually part of our daily lives. “And they actually arewe just choose not to see them.”

When it comes to experimentation Nahwi, however, takes the cake. While most of his artworks are on canvas, two of his paintings have been done on steel plates. “I think what he has done is very challenging and unique,” says Farah.

“It’s the first time I attempted working on steel. I like to use things that people don’t usually care about. Steel is something that people throw away. I want to show everyone how you can convert it into a fine piece of art,” he says, adding that it was difficult to paint on steel.

“It took me a very long time, but a different world emerged out of it.”

There is another painting of a green Land Rover, which was inspired from a song by Mohammed al Muqaimi. “In olden days, when we did not have proper roads in Oman, this vehicle was used for transportation because it was very sturdy and could manoeuvre in any terrain.

“Muqaimi wrote a very popular song about a Land Rover and how it was driven from Muscat to Dubai. I realised that both the song and the vehicle were part of our heritage, so I decided to recreate it on canvas,” explains Nahwi. Musical notation from that song also finds its way into the painting.

“All the themes represent Oman, yet when you see these paintings they all seem other worldly,” says Farah. It’s a world reclaimed by these talented artists.

SOURCE: MUSCAT DAILY