Ruqaya al Kindi –
Maryam al Shehhi, a 25-year-old Omani teacher of Fine Arts and a graduate of Sultan Qaboos University, is looking for the astonishment made by art.
She said that drawing for her is a way of escaping from the real world where painting and colours are a source of a sense of spiritual peace and emotional security “as they rearrange the hash of my anxiety and disturbance, and painting portrays the state of the psychological revolution I live to emerge as a painting. Freedom is my first feeling when practicing art,’’ she said.
Maryam found herself inclined to classical realism school, which is interested in simulating the exact details corresponding to reality. But recently she went to the surrealism school, which is interested in simulating super-realism, creating a realistic work of form but linked to imagination as an idea. “I always like to search for what frees my idea that I want to convey so I do not commit myself to a particular school, but look for the most surprising and deeper way to the recipient,” she added.
The work “In my head a mass grave” came under the surrealist school, “where this work depicts a woman with African features as a sign of oppression and injustice, with a head is surmounted by smoke as a sign of combustion and annihilation,” she signified.
The name of this work is due to, as Maryam explained, the fact that women have a principle, an opinion, an idea and an ambition, but her surroundings and community are fighting these ideas just because they are a woman and confining them to household tasks and child-rearing. “It is like a journey of patience in a battle between her and her community, which always dictates her duties,” she added.
This work includes two messages, “the first for women that they must fight to get what they desire and deserve. The second is that he must believe that he is a partner and not something else,” she shared.
The other favourite artwork for Maryam which belongs to surrealism school as well “represents a mirror of the human personality, psychology and the invisible feelings that he strives to hide them from people,” she shared.
This painting portrays, as she confirms, how human floundering between weakness and strength, helplessness and power, sadness and happiness, good and evil and other human feelings and features.
Maryam’s ideas were mostly inspired by nature. “The psychological pressures and societal conditions that I see around me are inspiring and motivating me to express by painting,” she added. And unlike many artists, Maryam do not have a role model, “but I follow everyone who is distinctive by his methods and try to study the reasons for the brilliance of his artwork,” she said.
She has her own ritual sharing, “I like quietness and isolation from people and I always like drawing at night. Earphones and music are essential for flying in the palette and colour space. As well as drinking coffee or tea when working.”
“All these simple things are the triggers for relaxation at work,” she added.
As for her participation, she refers that she participated in many exhibitions affiliated to the Sultan Qaboos University, the most important of which is the joint collective exhibition “Tell me about”, through which her painting was chosen to dedicate to His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.
The exhibition “Tell me about it” came as a collective exhibition of five outstanding students of the Fine Arts (student activity group). It talks about the charming and beautiful nature of Oman and this is the idea of the exhibition’s theme or name.
The exhibition includes ten paintings so that each student draws two paintings, one panorama and the other a normal size. “I drew a picture taken by Prof Ibrahim al Bakri, which depicts a scenery of the dam of Deqa valley located in the Wilayat of Qurayat. The painting was measured 130 x 60 cm using oil colours,” she explained.
For Maryam, “one of my most important challenges is that my area is far from places that attract art, artists and exhibitions and it is difficult to exist and participate in important art forums. My area, also, lacks with such artistic activities,” she said.
For Maryam, painting is a hobby more than anything else. “I draw to escape from everything that disturbs my life and my mood, I paint for myself, I find myself between colours and painting, I paint so that I can continue my days in peace for my soul and myself,” she said. But, she added, “if I find anyone who appreciates my paintings I do not mind selling although it is not a primary goal.”
In the future, “ I seek to hold my personal art exhibition to attract all people who are interested in arts,’’ she said. Also, as a teacher of fine arts, she hopes that a supportive school environment will be created for talented students. “I also hope that the role of the Ministry of Arts will be activated in raising the artistic culture’s level in all governorates of the Sultanate,” she added.