The Beautiful Arab Female

Work on display at the ‘7x7 Arab Female Artists’ exhibition at Cairo Amman Bank Gallery until April 16 (Photo courtesy of Cairo Amman Bank Gallery)

Work on display at the ‘7×7 Arab Female Artists’ exhibition at Cairo Amman Bank Gallery until April 16 (Photo courtesy of Cairo Amman Bank Gallery)

AMMAN — When talented and creative Arab women come together to showcase their artwork, the outcome encompasses an abundance of exquisite expression, craftsmanship and ingenuity.

Seven Arab female artists from seven different countries around the region have come together in an exhibition, titled “7×7 Arab Female Artists”, at the Cairo Amman Bank Gallery.

The exhibition discusses the woman, society’s perceptions of her and her roles as dictated by cultural norms. Artists from Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan from different ages, backgrounds and schools of art, each presents her own narrative on the Arab female.

From Jordan, visual arts graduate and winner of various competition prizes in Amman, Aya Abu Ghazaleh, exhibited her signature technique of strokes of oil paint on canvas. 

Abu Ghazaleh’s sophisticated strokes, also known as informal brushstrokes, create obscure images of human silhouettes and muddy scenes that can be vaguely interpreted as pictures from routine life. 

The images from the young artist’s brushstrokes do not follow a pattern and run in different directions, while still maintaining the subjects of her paintings within a cohesive structure. 

The 23-year-old’s participation in the exhibition is somewhat different from her participation at a group exhibition for Jordan University students hosted by Nabad Gallery in 2014, where her works focused on close-up portraits using the same method of brushstrokes.

Renowned Emirati artist Fatma Lootah was also one of the contributing artists at the exhibition. 

Lootah’s works focus on the suffering of the girl instead of the woman. She chooses close-ups of their faces of young girls that exude innocence, pain, fear and suffering. The artist uses soft brushstrokes with acrylic paint on canvas. The portraits resemble pictures of children of war-torn countries around the region. 

Among Lootah’s works is a sculpture of a girl lying on the floor scribbling on blank paper, a blue demolished wall behind her. 

In relation to the subject of the exhibition, Rama Khaled Al Maz, from Syria, explores the narrative of the delicate female yearning to express herself and break free from social norms in a patriarchal society.

Portrayals of women in Maz’s paintings vary from the conventional obeying wife in headscarf to unrestrained ballerinas and acrobats, all of which juxtaposed by consistent striking-red coloured backgrounds.

On the other hand of the colour spectrum, paintings by Iraqi artist Rajiha Al Qudsi embrace soft colours such as white, beige, grey, blue and pistachio. The women are visions of beauty and delicacy surrounded by an oriental vibe. Qudsi’s feminine style dominates the characters in the paintings while paying close attention to intricate details with high sensitivity. 

In the abstract realm, artists Lobna Al Ameen from Bahrain, Maha Mansour from Kuwait and Majida Nasreddin from Lebanon thrived on exuberant palettes. 

Ameen’s works are mostly acrylic on textured wood, covered in fluid bunches of colour, while Mansour focuses on the composition of different hues of red and orange while weaving collages of postcards, envelopes and letters on canvas. 

Nasreddin, now residing in the UAE, also delves into bright colours such as red and green, with an alignment of a variety of different shapes.

Curator of the exhibition, Mohammed Al Jaloos wanted to underline the lack of exposure for women artists in the region around the world and the fact that the “visual product of women remained scarce over the years and also the last decades”. 

“This scarcity of coverage of women’s art does not only relate to her creativity being hindered, but also to the various circumstances surrounding the female in our society,” Jaloos said.

The exhibition runs until April 16.

This piece was published in The Jordan Times

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