Abdulkareem al Maimani’s exhibition - Harvesting Seeds - is a creative pursuit for the artist as much as it is for the viewer. It demands 100 per cent engagement of the viewer’s mental faculties. A language barrier allows interpretation of his art based on the viewer’s sense and sensibilities rather than the artist’s, which adds several new dimensions and concepts.
The holes in his English vocabulary as he describes his art leaves scope for plugging with the viewer’s own perspective. By default, Maimani gives those who don’t speak Arabic the freedom to interpret Harvesting Seeds to suit their conditioning, if they wish too.
Harvesting Seeds, Maimani’s sixth solo exhibition, opened at Stal Gallery on Wednesday evening and will run for the next ten days. A graduate in Fine Arts from Sultan Qaboos University, he has worn several hats since, including a nine-year stint at Omani Society for Fine Arts and a position in the Oud Hobbyists' Association.
Currently working in the Diwan of Royal Court’s Education Council, his works have been part of international group shows exhibited in China, France, South Africa and other countries. Besides commissioned works taking pride of place in Muscat International Airport, Ministry of Information and the National Museum, his works are sought after by collectors.
Maimani’s earlier art – until 2001 – reflected realism. A year later, he found and fine-tuned his style which is distinctively surreal. Central to his art are ‘bouthoor’ – Arabic for seeds - growing out of the earth. Always in bold colours and rarely one single seedling, these creeper-like forms convey Maimani’s complex ideas.
Though it became a distinctive feature of his style much later, seeds and the process of germination have held Maimani’s imagination since he can remember. He fondly recalls the time he saw life emerging out of earth from seeds his father had asked him to sow in their family farm when he was five. “It was like magic,” he says still mesmerised by this wonder of nature.
Following years of fascination and close observation, Maimani now attributes characteristics - obviously not in the botanical sense - to seedlings. It is a creative licence granted only to artists and open to interpretations. Seedlings bursting out through soil before taking root mirror Maimani’s ideas finding a conduit of expression in more ways than one.
Asked if he doesn’t feel restricted in only painting seeds, he admits to the limitation it poses. “But on the other hand, seeds have become my unique style. People immediately relate this style to my art,” Maimani said.
Influenced by the Spanish artist Joan Miro, Maimani has a similarly rich colour palette. “I like his colours and shapes, and the fact that his art is simple. I don’t like too many elements cluttering a work and confusing the focus,” he said.
Featuring 30 works in acrylic painted in 2018 and 2019, the exhibition includes multiple series with curious names - Arrogant, The Owners of Green Hats, Move to Space to Make More Beauty, The Art of Containment and more.
Hassan Meer, art director of Stal Gallery & Studio, described the exhibition as a “conceptual artistic experiment of a euphoric balancing act in which the foreground and background are held in equal tension. The value of this show lies in the opportunity to see such wildly beautiful art quite possibly for the first time.”