Muscat-based painter Ibrahim Gailani fell in love with Greek mythology when he saw the statue of Hermes, an Olympian god, when he was in Athens. Years later he showcased the same theme in his painting titled ‘Hermes is Sleeping,’ at the recent Athens Art Fair. The curator and founder of ‘Art Retreats’ in Muscat, was contacted by the Greek organisers after viewing his painting on ‘Zeus,’ the Greek mythical god, that he had done for Maserati Oman.
They both teamed to curate customised unique art pieces inspired by Maserati elements for their prospective customers.
Proudly holding aloft the Sultanate’s tricolour along with him in Athens were Al Kaabi (Oman) and Indian artists Harini Kumar, Soni Budhia and Rashmi Dauria.
The Unesco Art Symposium conducted by Zervas Arts had a very specific agenda. They wanted these artists to make a statement about the state of the world to bring about a change. What followed was an intensive week of creativity and exchange of ideas with artists participating from Mexico and conflict zones of Syria and Iraq.
Gailani explains of the collective responsibility to stand up for refugees coming to Europe amidst the severe economic conditions. “This inspired us to create beautiful paintings to represent their thoughts.”
Soni concentrated on the architecture of an Omani mosque in a classical painting signifying its message of peace. “My work represents how religions transmit messages of peace, which the world today seems to easily forget. The painting aims at making a silent reference to reflect, and hopefully make a change from within from hate to peace and love,” says Soni.
Harini Kumar created a piece titled ‘Where are the Flowers,’ while Rashmi’s work highlighted Worli painting, a style of tribal art created by the adivasis or aboriginals from the North Sahyadri Range in India.
Harini feels the event provided much to learn from fellow artists and they came back enriched and empowered. “Thoughts of sadness and futility of war were on her mind when she painted a woman grieving in the centre of her canvas with abstract background of fighter planes, bombs and elements of war ravaging the world.”
The tribal art paid respect to nature and wildlife and conservation of the natural resources. It was a culturally enriching and beautiful experience for Rashmi. “The clay huts in the background remind the world of its futile wars, the limited resources the planet and how soon we will run out of everything if we do not pause,” she adds.
Explains Gailani: “Hermes, the son of Zeus and God of commerce and travellers, needs to wake up and read the graffiti on the wall of Athens to see the plight of refugees and their suffering. The blue wooden carton planks represent the blue waters that the refugees cross and the blue flag of Greece that struggles to cope with them amidst the crisis!”
An elated Gailani points out the highlight of the visit was the exhibition which saw all the works by different artists. The gathering brought over 55 artists from 22 countries for a week to network and paint together and have their works showcased at the festival exhibition.
Known for his bold pop-art inspired portraits with shimmering gold, and red as his favourite colour palettes, Gailani is all set for his next art expo in Rome this September.