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Plastic Art Confronts Community Issues

Plastic Art

By Tamjid Alkohali

Plastic art has become a science with special thought and philosophy. Through plastic art, people can highlight and address the issues of community. They can also recognize international and local issues as well as develop observation, imagination, simulation, and thought.

In not a short period, plastic art in Yemen has witnessed a remarkable development. People have paid more attention to it and many new artists have appeared. But the question is how has Yemeni society benefited from plastic art embodying its issues and addressing them?

National Yemen met artist Radfan Al-Mohammadi who began drawing in 2001. He then moved to Sana’a to establish the Arab Forum for Art in order to hold courses in plastic arts and give chances for Yemeni artists to practice drawing.

Al-Mohammadi spoke about plastic art in Yemen saying that since 2000, people haven’t realized the importance of art. After 2004, they began paying more attention to all kinds of art, including plastic art, because Sana’a was capital of culture and the Culture Minister Khaled Al-Rowaishan was a writer. Now, people are suffering from the financial recession, so all their attention goes to making a living.

Today, Yemen in general and Sana’a in particular suffer from the recession, and the culture field is considered the most deteriorated field. “Most of people consider art as entertainment. In these situations, art is ignored by the state, institutions, people, and even some artists who have left the art world to pursue interests in other fields with higher incomes,” said Al-Mohammadi.

In the Arab Forum for Art, there are many meaningful paintings. Some of them are inspired by nature, while others are mysterious. They don’t have a clear mental image, as if the artist wants the viewers to think and live in their painting and discover their ideas, but sometimes they don’t reach the right idea.

“The painting expresses ideas and discusses issues clearer than words. It arrives to the people’s hearts and minds quickly and easily. The colors relate to the viewers’ emotions and have the ability to convince them of its meaning quickly.” Mohammadi continued, “art teaches people and modifies their behavior, and thus the vision of art achieves and reflects society through addressing society’s issues.”

The paintings’ meanings differentiate from one to another. For example, one represents the primitive life of Yemenis and the development occurring in their lives today. Other paintings expresses in a beautiful way the suffering of the Syrian people through drawing a depressed man inside dark room with a few lines of weak light.

“Many civil society organizations that advocate for economic, social, and political community issues, demand us to prepare special paintings to clarify issues to people,” said Al-Mohammadi.

No painting has the ability to confront society’s issues. Artist Mohammed Al-Yemeni said that artists should be honest when they embrace any social, economic or political issue for two reasons. The first is to paint an influential painting for the viewer. The second is to attract a big number of viewers and then the painting will do its job in changing reality.

“But if the artist aims to get money and awards, their painting can’t carry any Semitic message, as it won’t change anything,”  added Al-Yemeni.

According to Al-Yemeni, paintings can be induction tools to the culture of the community. Art doesn’t have red lines. It embodies all issues and all problems. Its affect remains forever.

“The biggest thing that helps the painting to do its job is technology. In the past, paintings were displayed only in exhibitions, but today paintings spread through many websites, so people around world can see them,” said Al-Yemeni.

Paintings have become a science because of the strong relation between human beings and painting. However, a large segment of society still considers paintings as lines and colors.

Art teacher Samar Al-Sabri emphasized that most students’ problems are resolved by art, whether through watching it or practicing art by themselves. “Some students can’t express their feelings, but for example when they watch a painting about the mother, then they can talk and express, because the painting is very near to them,” Al-Sabri explained.

Al-Sabri added that the impact of art becomes very strong when students practice painting by themselves. “In this case art helps to address the psychological problems of students resulting from accidents. Through art we can help students to expel the tension and turn negative energies into positive energies as well as support various aspects for all students, not just those with special needs,” Al-Sabri said.

Awareness of the importance of plastic art depends on culture and the community. “There are a good number of people aware of the importance of art, but there is still a lot who don’t care about it. The problem is when the school itself doesn’t care about art and neglects art classes or doesn’t provide the materials to practice it,” Al-Sabri added.