Artist Fadhl Al-Waheedi to YT:Art makes life complete [Archives:2005/813/Culture]

February 3 2005

By Mohammed No'man al-Hakimi
For the Yemen Times

From Hais that is dipped in pain and privation, the artist Fadhl Ali Al-Waheedi emerged with his wonderful creativity that is inspired by the nature of the desert and its people. The Yemen Times met with him to discuss his work.

Q. What would you be if you were not an artist?

A. For me, art is a part of me as a natural flair as it is in everyone. A deficient person is one who has no creative art in his life. Thus, he is deficient in the formation of his brain cells.

Q. Deficient? How can our life be complete with art?

A. In my paintings, for instance, I talked about the Tihamis' motive for life and the traditions practiced there. For example, the painting I drew of a bride meeting her husband. Many Arabs and Europeans appreciated this portrait and it was published in local and foreign newspapers.

Q. How are Arab setbacks and calamities reflected in your paintings?

A. My portraits talk about Arab conditions I expressed my feelings about Sabra and Shatila massacre on a portrait. There is a painting that got the first prize in Yemen. This portrait was among my paintings with which I participated in Moscow. So many intellectuals and writers talked about it. I had many press interviews in Moscow in the exhibition held in 1985. I painted “The Arab Paint” which depicts the Arab World killing itself. It was published in Al-Hurras Newspaper in 1986. Many other portraits of mine reflect on the horrible friction between the neighboring Arab countries.

Q. What is the direction of your paintings?

A. My painting is “realism” that the public can understand and probe.

As for the classical school, it was reflected in some expressing portraits about some Arab cases, where we find the Palestinian case on the top being followed by those of Iraq, natural disasters tc. In those portraits, I put some colors that depict the dead.

Q. Do you find yourself in what you produce?

A. I live my artistic experience with a brush that paints the feelings and emotions around it.

Q. How do you imagine the future of the Yemeni 'brush'?

A. Colors personify all that the society seeks and they express the society itself. Therefore, without any doubt, the future is that of the brush and the painting.

Q. Where do you classify our country among Arab countries in this field?

A. Since the stone ages, Yemeni people created paintings to express themselves, with inscriptions and decorations on walls, rocks and stones. The Yemeni art of painting and geometry is quite unique.

Q. What is the nature of this uniqueness with which you compete internationally?

A. Today it is the most important art of the world as the exhibition held in the Arab Cultural Capital for 2004, Sana'a, was the evidence. That exhibition attracted Arabs as well the whole world.

Q. What assures that?

A. The president's care of art is the strongest evidence that art has its own importance that makes it distinguished and prominent from other creative works. This is because the president is aware of the importance of art universally as it depicts history.

Q. Great! How was their interaction with such a profuse creativity?

A. My works are uncountable, but they are imprisoned at home as well as at Hais Tadhamon Club. This is because of lack of care taken of them by the Ministry of Culture. So, my works were sentenced to imprisonment. After my participation with my portraits in Sana'a, I had to sell my wife's gold as well as my motorbike so as to get my paintings back home. Therefore, I packed them on a car used for carrying fish and got them back to 'prison'.

Q. What are your most important exhibitions?

A. My first participations were in the First Youth Camp in 1979. Then, I participated in Amateurs' Club in 1985 where I got the first rank. I stood first in Yemen in the art of painting in the Amateurs' Club. After that, I was nominated to participate in the Universal show in Moscow.

I participated in different Yemeni exhibitions, agricultural and artistic, and gained different token prizes. In addition, while I was studying in Egypt, I participated with some portraits in the exhibition held at Al-Ahli Club on 23 July as well as in Ahmed Urabie's Exhibition. But the most important participation, for me, was that in the exhibition held in Zabid on historical cities as my participation attracted most of the people in Zabid.

Q. Is it possible to have an artistic creativity without being erudite?

A. I do believe in intellectuality to a great extent. Unless the artist has a great scope of intellectuality in all the aspects of life, then, they will not be able to create for the artist has to be an intellectual and erudite, especially, in psychology. Otherwise, their paintings are not appropriate to the place and time.

Q. What does 'art' mean in people's daily lives?

A. The art of paint has a vast role to play in cultivating and developing talents, especially culturally.

Q. Does the saying”hunger breeds creativity” apply to you?

A. We, in remote areas like Tihama, are not taken care of, because attention is drawn to only a few assigned people in the capital and other main cities. A creative person here has to fight with his limited finances. Here, we find talents are too often consigned to the dustbin. As a result, nobody but those with money can afford to be creative.

Q. Do you have any final comments?

A. I invite H. E. Minister of Culture to visit Tihama to get an idea of the nature and talents of people there. I invite him to have a look at them because he might offer a hand of help. He will definitely find many attractive and surprising things.