Sana’a Through Italian Eyes [Archives:1997/47/Culture]

November 24 1997

By: Martin Dansky, Yemen Times
This is an artist who came to Yemen before the civil war in 1990, and asked to have her artisitic rendition of Sanaa published. Maria Lunghi began her artistic career in 1972. As a child she grew up appreciating the elements which would gradually influence her painting ability and perception of colour, appreciating simple things like sunsets, dawns, people and the world. Maria began her career in Rome about twenty years ago and had her talent first rewarded with a Torlonia prize in 1978. She participated at an art education exhibit at Campagnano the next year and at various group shows at different well known galleries and cafes of the Italian capital. Abroad, she participated at an international show in New York, “Attitudes VII International Art Competition” in 1989. One of the exhibition sites was in 1994 at via Margutta, world renown for its sidewalk artist displays and antique shops. Many shows had specific themes like dealing with Woman’s Day held annually March 8th, Christmas or various distant lands. Her last exhibit included works she painted after being inspired by her visit to Sanaa and the surrounding towns like Sharahah and Wadi Dahr. The famous Italian art critic Aldo Riso once said that as soon as she graduated from arts school in Rome she vividly painted various subject matter and superbly revealed unconscious qualities such as the mystery behind limpid arab dwellings mirrored in stagnant pools. The paintings she did of the country are crystal clear, the artistic is on the one hand realistic in her use of earth colours for the classic early buildings with a “naif” use of blue hues on the city structures to soften their colour tone. There’s a childlike innocence behind the compositions, a desire to reveal the solitude of the desert world and the abandoness of some of the countries early landmarks. The artist willingly gave up on some of the particulars of the building architecture, like the classic “qamaria” windows present in the traditional Yemeni houses to concentrate on the stillness , and starkness of the Yemeni cityscape. The artist lives and works in Rome, Italy hoping one day to return to the arab world and continue her artistic itinerary.