Spring 2010
May 2010

Third Sana'a Forum for Arab Plastic Art Exhibition


18 May 2010

IN AN ATTEMPT to align itself with international artistic practices, Yemen, reengages utopian propositions with its current climate of cultural and political change.

So began Sana'a Forum for Arab Plastic Art Exhibition on Tuesday, May 18 - the headline-hitting bash that kicked off the invitational contemporary art exhibition from 10 Arab countries showcased at Sana'a Culture Hall.

Now in its third year, the forum was complex, coherent and serious as well as multinational, multigenerational and responsive to many artistic tendencies. Moreover it was accessible to the general audience without succumbing to the temptations of populism, spectacle or market buzz.

The annual event organized by the Ministry of Culture under the leadership of HE Mohammad al-Maflahi, drew a veritable swarm of Middle Eastern cognoscenti amid Sana'a spectacular ancient cityscape.

Invited art-notables from Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Iraq, Egypt and the GCC (Bahrain, Dubai, Qatar), not to forget the guest of honour artist Wan Jiyuan from Beijing, China - all offered a range of expectations and capabilities. It was a good mix of seasoned artists while others are just getting started. Most of them are anxious to share and learn at the same time have a stimulating holiday. As expected, some arrive with significant formal art education and are primed with attitude and theory while others just want to learn from the experts.

Art-making workshop programmes were offered as opportunities for developing a strong body of work. Students focused on their areas of interest, whether painting from life or working on non-representational pieces. Media varied from traditional oils and acrylic to print making, ceramics and miniature art.

Apart from the possible benefit to students, this encounter provided an opportunity to try to understand the varieties and machinations of the creative process. There was much progress made by Yemeni students who simply saw with fresh eyes as they were not so stuck with an inner vision whose planks may be riddled with past mistakes. For a few days at least, they were not so in love with their own treasured styles and looked at things a bit differently. During the encounter they kept busy with a mildly competitive abandon.

Fast learners, the wise students filtered what they need from the itinerant instructors two of them were Bahraini artists Jabbar Al Gadbhan and Abbas Yousif. who conducted the etching workshop.

The forum brought together works by Yemeni artists and artists’ groups from various parts of the country and was largely concentrated in two venues located in the historic Old City fortress.

Contrary to the impression that might have been given to the public, artistic production in Yemen has become a tempting prospect toward participating in the world market as majority of established artists attended art schools in Russia.

There was also a three-day forum for discussion, at the Sabah Hotel, which complemented the organizers’ interest in exchange and debate. A number of local artists presented dinner tables and food as signifiers of Yemeni hospitality and intimacy. 

At the end of the forum, guests were taken on a tour to scenic spots that revive two main hopes that go hand-in-hand: the lure of artistic tourism and the maintenance of a forum which aims to go beyond the aesthetic experience of mere making of objects.

There was no end to good cheer and sense of brotherhood. On the last day, after a prolonged bonding, Yemen is one of the places in the world where sightseeing plays largely in the mind of the beholder. Apart from its natural beauty, the sincere warmth and hospitality of the Yemenis makes it a great historic destination - you’ll just love it.
Maria Vivero
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October 2010
Countires Represented

Kingdom of Bahrain
United Arab Emirates


Charbel Dagher - Lebanon
Hakim Al Akel - Yemen
Mohammed Bin Hamouda - Tunisia
Mohammed Al Ameri - Jordan
Molim Arossi- Morocco
Hatim Al Sager - Iraq
Talal Al Moualla - Syria
Maria Vivero - Bahrain
Yasser Mongy - Egypt

Workshop Instructors

Mahmood Taha - Jordan

- Etching
Jabbar Al Gadbhan - Bahrain
Abbas Youssif - Bahrain
- Woodcut
Jehad Al Ameri - Jordan

Ahmed Al Moualla

Miniature Art
Mousa Kahkash - Algeria
Alhashimi Amer - Algeria

Special Guests
Wan Jiyuan - China
Khalil Akari - Syria

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