Wednesday, March 22, 2023 | Sha'ban 29, 1444 H
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Framed: Elevating the power of art


The frames that border artworks and photos whether one realises it or not are an important part of any exhibition. Artist Yousuf al Jabri wanted to point it out in an exhibition launched last Monday.

Titled “Birwaz” or frame in English, Yousuf wanted to communicate that many people in the art profession give the same attention to detail the way they pay attention to the artwork or photograph that is being displayed.

“The frames used are just as important as the picture itself. It completes the meaning and the story of the picture,” he shared.

Launched under the support and presence of His Highness Sayyid Mohammed al Said, the exhibition was held at Bait Al Baranda and will end beginning of April. “A frame provides a boundary for an image. This helps to keep the viewer’s attention on the image and not wander off down the wall,” he said.

He added, “In my opinion, an unframed picture must be dramatic to hold a viewer’s gaze. The frame can add drama to a picture... like looking into a window and imagining what’s out of sight. In many ways, a frame can make a small image feel bigger,” he said.

Historically, ancient men who used to paint on cave walls didn’t have any borders or frames but as men’s knowledge improved, the borders became an important divisor that signifies that another story is being told. This is very prominent among ancient Egyptian art and tomb paintings.

Fast forward to the modern world, frames served many functions — serving as spaces to expand the meaning of an image as well as finally serving the purpose it serves nowadays, a protective boundary for an item.

“Frames are so powerful because your mind doesn’t process all the millions of bits of information that simultaneously bombard your senses — it simply can’t. We each see the world through a limited “window”, whether or not we’re aware of why we choose that particular point of view at the time,” the artist said.

He added, “That’s why several people can view a scenario and come away with very different perceptions and interpretations of what happened.”

In the past, the creation of the frame is in itself also art with many of the artists doing it by themselves or working with gilders or carvers to help with the process.

By the 17th and 18th centuries, frames had been very popular among European countries that they were meticulously hand-carved by master craftsmen. There was a thorough relationship with artists, gilders and frame-makers that the frames were custom fitted. Over the next centuries, the frames become decorative and symbolic and just as there were movements and progress in art, so were the changes that happened on the frames.

For Yusuf, he pays attention to the importance of the frames as it elevates any craft and to him, they also help set the feelings and moods properly that when one is wandering in an exhibition, the eye of the viewer doesn’t feel bored due to the variety of ideas and colours in the hall.

Yousuf is proud about acquiring the traits of being particular about details which is why he said for anyone who is into details as well, they would love exploring not only the photos but the frames that hold them.

He shared that for most of the photos on the exhibit, he already has a general idea about how they should be framed.

In fact, he can explain the tiniest of details about the photos and the accompanying grames.

“In my imagination, I can already see the final look of the work. It’s usually easy for me to take the pictures knowing how they would look overall,” he said.

Most of Yousuf’s work currently on display at Bait Al Baranda was not digitally processed but for some photos, he said that it has to be done in order to properly communicate their sensitive meaning.

If you are visiting the exhibit, feel free to enjoy not only the beauty of the photographs on display but the meticulous collection of frames that hold them. The artist designed them to be fully enjoyed who loved paying attention to little things.

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