Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 26 November 2020

Oman National Day: Nine contemporary Omani artists who should be on your cultural radar

From established names such as Hassan Meer to emerging talents that are truly thinking outside the box

 A work from Hassan Meer's series 'Reflection from Memories'. Hassan Meer
 A work from Hassan Meer's series 'Reflection from Memories'. Hassan Meer

Artists have long captured the culture, traditions and history of countries around the globe, documenting and celebrating heritage over the centuries.

As Oman marks its 50th National Day, we are taking a deeper look at some of the sultanate's most exciting artistic talent.

The country celebrates the birthday of Sultan Qaboos, former Ruler of Oman, as well as the removal of Portuguese occupation in 1650, on Wednesday, November 18.

Here, we round up some of the country's leading contemporary artists, as well as some up-and-coming names to know.

Hassan Meer

A vanguard of the contemporary Omani art scene, Hassan Meer’s abstract paintings and installations are often drawn from beliefs and traditions within Omani culture.

During his two decade-long career, Meer has exhibited his work in a number of high-profile venues around the world, including the Royal College of Art's galleries in London, the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo and at the Sharjah Biennial.

Mays Al Moosawi

Mays Al Moosawi’s artworks are filled with dynamic contrasts. In some of her illustrations, figures are formed by wild, liberated scrawls. In others, the strokes are calculated and restrained. Her work is also replete with patterns often found in Omani embroidery. Besides paintings and illustrations, Al Moosawi also produces photographs and wire sculptures.

Abdul Rahman Al Ma’aini

With paintings featuring large kaleidoscopic patterns and vibrant characters with exaggerated features, Abdul Rahman Al Ma’aini’s artworks are patently distinct.

The artist has exhibited his bold pieces in group exhibitions in Switzerland, Spain, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Dubai, where he currently resides. He is also a member of the Emirates Fine Art Society.

Alia Al Farsi

Painted with expressive stucco-like texture, the figures in Alia Al Farsi’s artworks seem almost mystical. The artist often draws inspiration from her roots – painting designs found in Omani artefacts and coins – but doesn’t shy away from finding influences elsewhere. There is French poetry in some of her artworks, as well as patterns alluding to Cambodian textiles. What she paints on is also diverse, from large-scale canvases to palm-sized boxes and arm chairs.

Al Farsi has exhibited her work around the world, from Muscat and Paris to Tokyo and Dubai.

Tanya Shamil

Tanya Shamil's Pop Art designs – filled with comic book speech bubbles and social commentary – have earned her a considerable social media following.

Her work both embraces and critiques aspects of society, inviting audiences to discuss topics that were at one time considered taboo.

Mohammed Al Attar

The lion’s share of Mohammed Al Attar’s work features self-portraits, but not in the way you’d traditionally expect. Through digital paintings and watercolours, the artist – who is a lawyer by day – deconstructs himself limb by limb in his pieces. It may sound gory but Al Attar, also known as Mimoon, manages to make them look beautiful and almost serene through his use of a bright, vivid palette.

Abdulrahim Al Kendi

Abdulrahim Al Kendi is a conceptual artist whose photographs and installations, composed with scathing social commentary, have made him an important figure in Oman's art scene, with his subjects ranging from a straw-pierced egg to a goat pen presented as a men’s association.

Tariq Al Hajri

There is a playful absurdity to Tariq Al Hajri’s photographs that immediately invites in viewers, such as one work that shows a man lying down on a shored motorboat, intently watching television, while another shows a man cycling with a bow and arrow.

Mujahid Al Malki

Another photographer with an eye for the absurd is Mujahid Al Malki, who also goes by the name Muji. The artist often makes his work a meeting point between the cultures of Oman and the US, where he studied rocket science at university. His subjects range from men in thobes reading flaming newspapers to those in suits floating in a pool full of pineapples.

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Read more:

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Updated: November 18, 2020 03:50 PM

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