Al-Yemeni: A devoted artist [Archives:2006/962/Culture]

July 10 2006
Mohammed Al-Yemeni in his workshop.
Mohammed Al-Yemeni in his workshop.
Walid Al-Boks
Contradictions do not meet as they do in the portraits of artist Mohammed Al-Yemeni, a plastic artist with a different brush.

Through his fantastical drawing room on the second floor of a building in Sana'a do not object to flirting with the city with all its contradictions: nature, people and the hidden details concealed between them which you cannot find only there, where Mohammed spends the bulk of his time surrounded with wooden faces begotten by wood carving. The faces look at you and the mouths almost speak. I can find them now clutching at the prominent hard words. It rains at the sunrise. No doubt these are some of the paradoxes seen in the portraits of Mohammed.

“The nature of the idea I would like to express dictates to me the artistic style I should adopt,” says Mohammed who tends to be impressionistic.

Kicked into the building by the Ring Road that circles the center of the town, you find yourself in the drawing room, a workshop that produces a community in miniature, depictions that suit beautiful eyes.

Sensing beauty does not require philosophization and hallucination, says Al-Yemeni because this capacity is an original human instinct.

“However when the audience gets deceived by an absurd color chaos under the pretext of modernism, that enhances the concept of visual pollution held by viewers,” he adds.

The artist is addressing the most superb human feelings. Therefore the artist must burnish his personality and elevate his character to qualify for the challenging task.

Talking to artist Al-Yemeni, you could discern that Al-Yemeni does not lack such a quality. His portraits introduce themselves as an evidence.

The face of this girl tears a once level surface; her facial expressions are full of misery; she may be an orphan; she seems so; dumb; that misery and sadness has torn the one level plane which the artist colored blue. Asked about the secret of the portrait that meets the eyes of visitor first, he replied that “the true artist depicts the cares of his society and chronicles life.”

Mohammed Al-Yemeni belongs to an old generation of plastic artists in the country and most of his works give you the impression that this artist is old. They hold you back in old times.

Another portrait shows the face of an old woman. It is haggard with detailed features as though bearing witness to a coup against history. That face may mislead you to think that the artist is old. However you estimate shrinks as you know that Mohammed is in the middle of his third decade.

He knows well where his portraits were originated and the way to add colors appropriately. He dexterously architects the drawings.

“The artistic portrait is not merely canvass and paint. It is however human emotion. I declare my respect for the Yemen's master of artistic movement Hashim Ali as well as prominent artists Abdul-Jabbar No'man and Fuad Al-Futaih.”

Al-Yemeni does not hide his reverence of other artists abroad such as Fa'iq Hassan, Dhia' Azzawi, Jamal Qutb, Ja'far Abboud, etc.

The name of this artist has become a common feature among the publications of many international organizations working in Yemen as well as of Yemeni NGOs.

He, however does not remember when he drafted his first painting. “I cannot remember (smiling). I cannot really remember. What I can remember is this fantasy atelier I established in 997.”

The atelier aims at fostering the capabilities of young talented individuals. The number of trainees has reached over 300.

Standing in the center of the atelier, you eye the colors and clutch at their carefully stitched lines. You become surrounded with windowless walls where nature is architected partly with color-mixed wood and partly with black and white mosaic.

There, one enjoys the friction between brushes and paper and canvass. The delicate feeling feeds the eyes by virtue of the fingers of an artist respecting art. The artist depicts magnificently the sunset and conveys into your soul the desire for beauty camouflaged in the eyelashes of a lass on the shore unperturbed by sea or people.