This is beautiful. Coming out of Yemen, from one of its sons. And if there is a medium of universal dialogue, it´s art.
Art crosses all barriers, it expresses, it changes, it can make people angry, is seen with different eyes, ears, palates across the universe. It communicates on a multitude of different levels. Art rests in the soul. Art never really disappears. It´s eternal.
There are times when you hear two words on a bus, in a market and you stop acknowledging that what you have just heard is nothing but poetry. Or a picture, taken by mistake, is simply art. Beautiful. A silent talker or a shouter. Accidental art.
On the other hand, you search for art going to a museum, to a concert, studying poetry.
I happened to meet Mazher Nizar during the final months of the Yemeni revolution at the end of 2011. The worst seemed to have passed, Embassies were reopening and there was some level of – not optimism – something which seemed more like a cautious breathing.
I found out that his was the Art Gallery in Bab el Yemen, the main entrance gate to the jewel of the Old City of Sanaá.
I never told him that his gallery was a place where I had spent my free hours whenever I needed peace on Friday afternoons. It was my balm.
Bab el Yemen
Mazher Nizar is a Yemeni artist born and raised in India as he says: “Divided between two cultures, it has been three decades since I came from India back to Yemen. Yemen has always inspired me since 1985, especially the old city of Sanaa where I have been painting views and veiled women. The rich history and culture of Yemen allowed me to work with Queens and women of this beautiful country.”
Sounds even too obvious to add we share the same, deep love for Yemen and the Old City of Sanaá where I spent most of my last decade in full veneration of what was surrounding
What Mazher does not know is that, since the war started in March 2015, just after a bombardment on Sanaá, if I had some battery left in my laptop, I would log in and check his posts on Facebook. Because every time he could, he was sharing one of his paintings with a message of encouragement to his country and us all. Even when he was sharing his pain (how not to?), pain was bonding us.
Seeing those colours, the women wrapped in the sitara – the typical multi-colour veil women place over them when leaving the house (mainly elderly women in the Old City), the birds of peace, the eyes which speak thousands of years of history, the walls of gingerbread houses and hundreds of other details, reminded me that the Yemen we knew was still worth the fight and our hopes for reasoning to prevail.
The ancient culture required us to be together in denouncing the massacre perpetrated against us. The colours of what had become both the chosen homeland for many of us and the motherland which adopted us all could not be covered by the smoke of bombs or the dust of crumbling houses. Through Mizhar´s colours I could obliterate the ever-present blood appearing in most of my thoughts.
Mazher, to me, will always represent hope born out of love for a country, the light I was seeing in what will probably be my darkest days when I had no one to counterbalance what was around me. It was private, personal. It kept me going.
I hope you will re-open your Art Gallery soon, Mazher. It would mean so many things, commencing with the three words we all want to hear: War is Over.
For more information: http://www.nizar-art.com/