An old woman and a man in traditional Omani clothing were intensely having a conversation. She was handing him money — for what purpose is open to interpretation. But what is frozen in time is a reflection of a possible actual event. It speaks a lot depending on who’s looking.
There are several more paintings that capture your attention. Women are well represented — one where she is wearing a red veil, another a group of three facing in different directions and several more that employ different styles of painting.
The event was organised by the Salalah chapter of the Oman Society of Fine Arts (OSFA) in which some 30 artists displayed 34 paintings. All the participants were young members of the OSFA displaying the true spirit of the Omani Youth Day, for which the exhibition was dedicated.
Ahmed al Mashikhi, Head of the OSFA’s Salalah chapter was happy about the exhibition due to its timing and the viewership the paintings got from international participants, who had come to Salalah to take part in some conference or business meeting being held in the same venue.
“There was no theme for the exhibition and the young painters were encouraged to bring their best. We were surprised by their spontaneity and response. A large number of them turned up and some 34 best out of them were selected for the exhibition, as the idea was to encourage new members to join OSFA,” he said.
The event truly reflected the imagination spirit of all the painters but it was equally difficult to walk into their minds. The subjects were so diverse and sometimes so fine that it was not easy for a common visitor to understand what really made the painters paint such beautiful works.
A visitor from Austria, who had come to Salalah to attend a conference, was quite impressed with the setting of the exhibition and the paintings.
“It was like a walking into the minds of the painters and since this is my first time in a Middle Eastern country, I got to know the Arab culture, their love for nature and family values through these paintings,” she said.
Commenting further on the displayed works, she said: “I am not a painter but fortunately I love paintings. The works are praiseworthy particularly those which depicted an old man and a couple in an informal setting in which a woman is giving some money to his partner. I really liked the exhibition and I would say it was an opportunity for me.”
Another visitor, Mohammed from Egypt, called the works very photogenic and full of realistic impressions. “Some abstract paintings were really quite impressive, realistic and full of figurative themes,” he said.
He also appreciated the support the artists and photographers are receiving in Oman through clubs like Oman Society of Fine Arts. “It is really a good thing to recognise the talents of the youths and channelise them in the right direction,” Mohammed said. “These hidden talents certainly deserve more support and exposure and their paintings deserve far bigger audience than those of Salalah,” said another visitor at the exhibition.