Next time you visit a building in the Sultanate and is awestruck by a sculpture in iron or wood or marble, trace the name of the sculptor and chances are, you’ll end up with a name Abdulkarim bin al Rawahi.
He’s a humble Omani but one of the most prolific and creative art maker in the country today.
A graduate of Art from Sultan Qaboos University and a teacher of plastic arts and sculptors on various materials such as marble, iron and wood, AbdulKarim is a member of the Omani Society of Fine Arts (OSFA).
A passionate designer in hard materials since he was child, his works can be found at various offices, ministries and homes in and around the Sultanate.
“Creating sculptures in a variety of materials has been my passion since childhood and I enjoy making them because I have a knack for details and once I achieve what is on my mind, an exact replica of what I thought, the joy is immeasurable,” Al Rawahi said.
Al Rawahi is now standing shoulder to shoulder with his contemporaries, his mastery of sculpture techniques from carving, to chiselling, to casting etc speaks to the affluence of his knowledge.
For his medium, Al Rawahi shared, “I prefer either wood, marble or iron as they are easy to structure and thankfully, they have a regional demand.”
“Working with these materials, sometimes combining more than one, is a strenuous task but the very thought that it (the design) is going decorate somebody’s home and quench their demand for good art gives me the energy to accomplish what I want. There is a very nice feeling when the iron and flame in your hands are getting moulded according to your technical ideas,” he said.
However, as a sculpture who also works with iron ore, Al Rawahi said it doesn’t make marble, wood and other raw materials as lesser media for art. Historically, iron and metals have been used since time immemorial and what his art work is doing is bringing back the era of when they were truly admired.
Although we see the presence of these materials regularly in our daily lives, there are a few artists work with iron and metal as basic elements in their artistic works.
Al Rawahi said that the aesthetic properties of iron, rust and natural oxidation are miraculous and dealing with them in making sculptures is a long pursued task which began in his university days between 2005 to 2008. However, its actual beginning and real orientation to practice in sculptures began through advanced technical workshops and training courses that he attended across the world.
Abdulkarim is a regular face at the youth workshops on various technical fields, which has been organised for more than 10 years and is still ongoing. Among these workshops is an advanced workshop in the formation of metals and wires where he learned the art of iron sculptures and its technicalities.
He has also worked on wood and clay but according to Al Rawahi, iron is what distinguishes his method of art and this has fetched him various accolades from across the world. Out of them, the most important, according to him, is the work (Line of Life) Carving Iron winner of the first place in the Small Business Competition 2009 at the national level.
His workshop, adjacent to his house, is always busy with the construction and deconstruction sometimes even recycling of raw materials. Machining, smelting and welding are happening throughout the day as their final product is always being waited all throughout the region.