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Saudi artist paints nation’s heritage across rocks

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JEDDAH: Art is spontaneous and anything can be used as a medium, with one Saudi artist tapping into the nation’s diverse and colorful culture and using its natural landscape as her canvas.

Impressionism is considered by many artists as one of the most important movements in modern painting. Instead of painting within the lines and seeking perfection in visual appearances, impressionists use loose and lighter brushwork and painting “en plein air.” 

Maha Al-Kafi, armed with brushes and buckets of paint and inspired by the impressionist movement, has adorned rocks and boulders in Qassim, Al-Duwadimi and Taif with geometric and mural-like designs.

“My latest project, ‘Painting on Rocks,’ is something I’ve been working on for the past two months with the aim of relaying our ancient culture and heritage through decorative art and inscription engraved and painted around us,” Al-Kafi told Arab News. 

The artist and full-time English teacher, who has been a member at the Culture and Arts Society in Taif for 23 years, grew up in Qassim and was surrounded by art. 

She first began learning about it in middle school, reading books to enrich her knowledge, and exploring various art forms toward the end of her high school years. 

Decorated pillows and blankets at home, engraved doors and windows, and distinctive flowers and leaves all took root within the geometric shapes of her work.

HIGHLIGHTS

• The artist and full-time English teacher, who has been a member at the Culture and Arts Society in Taif for 23 years, grew up in Qassim and was surrounded by art.

• She first began learning about it in middle school, reading books to enrich her knowledge, and exploring various art forms toward the end of her high school years.

• Decorated pillows and blankets at home, engraved doors and windows, and distinctive flowers and leaves all took root within the geometric shapes of her work.

Al-Kafi also drew from other regions’ traditions in the hope that she could share the geometric shapes inspired by Islamic visual art to the south, and bring Asir’s popular art form of Qatt Asiri to Najd.

“I want my art to create a unity of belonging and cultural exchange. I also want to contribute to our Kingdom’s 2030 Vision, which supports the arts including visual art, and focuses on its role in attracting tourists through art and heritage.”

Al-Kafi wants to continue with the initiative until she sees her colored rocks across Saudi cities paying tribute to the ornamental heritage depicted in the homes, doors and mosques of the past.

She is also an avid producer of portrait works. As a member of the Media Professionals committee, she enjoys creating near-life paintings of her fellow journalists and other influential people who have been inspirational in the media.

Her message to aspiring artists is to set goals and follow through with them, and for them to have the conviction of the message they hope to deliver through their art.

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