The fascinating details of ‘Memories of the Wadi’

There’s something very familiar about Anglo-Portuguese Joana Mollet’s artwork currently gracing the walls of the Centre Franco Omanais at Al Inshirah St, Muscat. Launched on the evening of June 11 with dozens of other artists, art lovers, and family and friends in attendance, her collection of 24 pieces, called ‘Memories of the Wadi’, reminds us of one of the amazing masterpieces of the great ukiyo-e painter and printmaker Hokusai.

This comparison, of course, is in no way demeaning Mollet’s work but rather a commendation as her abstract interpretation of some of Oman’s greatest attractions are not only exceptionally made, they are work of art that is truly an honour to adorn any wall.
Mollet has been in the country for five years now and the exhibit is just the start of many that we hope to see from her.
Reaching out to her on her Facebook page, Joana Mollet Art, here’s a few interesting things to know not only about her work but the artist herself.

For some reason, your art pieces reminded me of The Great Wave of Kanagawa, a woodblock print by the Japanese ukiyo-e artist Hokusai. Was there a bit of Japanese influence in your work or were they purely coincidental?
I did take inspiration from traditional Asian landscapes for the work, especially for the three larger pieces where I used ink as a major component in the art pieces.

How many pieces are there in the collection? How long did it TAKE to make each one of them and are some easier to make than others?
There are 24 pieces in the collection and most of them are on paper. I’ve been working on the collection since November and it can take anything from one day to one week to create a piece, depending on the size and the medium I use. This doesn’t include the time that it takes to make studies and develop my ideas. Sometimes a work can come out very spontaneously, other times I have to work on a piece for days. I tend to work intuitively meaning I let the painting tell me where it wants to go.

What does the collection tells us exactly?
My work explores the relationship between memory and our experience of the natural world. We go out into nature and take it all in: Oman’s dramatic mountains and rock formations contrast with the tiniest textures of gravel, stones, ripples in the water. My paintings are not literal representations, rather they reflect our emotional memory. In reality, nature is less and less how we wish to perceive it. It only exists as pristine in our imagination.My approach is intuitive and just gradually got formed, emerging as imagination. The collection is a “memory” of the natural subject.
Working in acrylics and mixed media, I weave natural forms together, playing with macro and micro scales detail and obfuscation, to convey an emotional response to our immense Omani landscapes in an abstract or semi-abstract form. Imagination and the distortions of memory are key to my work. Looking back, we realise that our memory is unreliable: we embellish, airbrushing out degradation and we remember the world the way we want it to be.

Out of the 24, which one is your favourite? And why?
I love them all! But if I had to choose one, it will be “Driving”. It just came out and I think it perfectly captures the memories that I have of driving along and speeding through Oman’s spectacular landscapes.

Can you tell me what you like best about the country? And as an artist what you found most challenging?
What I like best about Oman is the total freedom that we have to explore. Oman has so much to offer and you can just jump in the car and drive to exciting and beautiful places. You can really go off the beaten track and overall, there are always new things to explore.
As an artist, the landscapes are very inspiring and to be able to experience them without restrictions is unique.
The art world in Muscat is still evolving, so the challenge is to grow a thriving community of artists and art appreciators who really engage and exchange ideas.

To see more of Joana Mollet’s work, check out her Facebook page at Joana Mollet Art or visit the on-going exhibit at CFO, Inshirah St. The exhibition is open weekdays until June 21, 2018. The exhibit closes at 11 pm.