Yemen Seen with Different Eyes [Archives:1998/18/Last Page]

May 4 1998

The two sets of eyes, one Eastern and the other Western, belong to Ikhlas Mansoor – a budding Yemeni artist, and Annabel Ridley – a more seasoned British artist.
Yemenis and the international community in Sanaa were given a unique opportunity to view the works of these two artists at the National Art Center in old Sanaa. The exhibition, 28 April – 15 May, is organized by the British Council in cooperation with Mr. Fouad Fotaih, the curator of the National Art Center. The opening of the exhibition was attended by the British Ambassador to Sanaa, the Vice-Minister of Culture, British Council staff, representatives of the media, and a large crowd of art lovers and connoisseurs. The little quaint building housing the exhibition was literally bulging with people, and the paintings were selling like hot cakes.
Ikhlas Mansoor graduated in 1996 with a diploma in fine arts from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. This is her first solo exhibition, where a full section is devoted to her work. She had previously taken part in two group exhibitions including the one held at the US ambassador’s residence last year. “I hone my artistic talent and skills as I gradually gain more knowledge and experience,” explained Ikhlas. Her exquisite oil paintings and miniatures certainly indicate an enormous talent that is in need of nurturing to have its proper place within the gallery of Yemeni talents.
“Nature and ordinary people play a big part in my art, they are the source of my inspiration,” added Ikhlas. A good number of her 18 exhibited paintings depict the daily life of ordinary and simple folk in addition to the natural beauty of their surroundings. Ikhlas was recommended by Mr. Fotaih to be Annabel’s counterpart in this delightful exhibition.
With her delicate and colorful water colors, Annabel Ridley presents a fresh view of Yemen; the people and the landscape. During a three-week stay in November of last year to visit her son who works for an oil company operating in Yemen, she did 25 paintings. “I took sketches and photographs and did the other 10 paintings as shown in this exhibition back in England,” Annabel pointed out. Some of here paintings on Yemen were seen by Ms. Katherine Potter of the British Council, who later suggested and organized this exhibition.
As a contributor to exhibitions at Sotheby’s and the Mall Galleries in London and exhibitions in Oman, painting beautiful scenery with a “fairyland” atmosphere comes as second nature to Annabel. “I love painting. I can’t stop. Painting in the countryside is lovely because you sit there and you don’t feel like you are a tourist. You watch and talk to people and you get to know the village well,” she enthusiastically declared.
During the last two years, Annabel Ridley has painted in Oman, Venice, Spain, India and America. She has an exhibition scheduled to be held next summer in the US. Her paintings are regularly reproduced as prints and cards, which are sold worldwide.
Commenting on her partner in the exhibition, Annabel said; “Ikhlas paints beautifully, Yemeni art is very different from our Western art and it is fascinating.”
Many of the people who attended the opening of this exhibition expressed their big admiration for the works of the two artists with its visible feminine touch. The number of paintings reserved to be bought by the visitors certainly attests to that.
Adel J. Moqbil,
Yemen Times