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Jordanian Artist – RANA SAFADI
ASI: Hello and welcome to Art Salon International Rana Safadi, you are our first interviewee! You started as an artist taking photography of Jordan, was this something you did with something in particular in mind? Were they going to be used as guides for future paintings?
RS: Hello Clay and thanks for this opportunity. Actually when I used to take photography, it was for no intended reason, just the feeling to capture beauty around us. I liked to take details especially of doors, buildings, and streets.
ASI: Your photographic pieces seem to represent the rich cultures of Jordan and the Middle East in particular. I’ve noticed that you have photographed many doors, windows etc (you made a collection of cards entitled ‘Old Doors and Windows of Jordan’). These images show a great texture of history and colour, but they also suggest ‘entrances’ and ‘exits’. I wonder if they have any symbolic meaning to the beginning of your career as an artist? That maybe you ‘left’ something to ‘begin’ something?
RS: Doors always fascinate me, because they keep us wondering about the stories behind them. Doors also represent hope and opportunities. These photos inspire me to continue with the same exploration. From making photographs you entered the world of painting.
ASI: What was it that made you make that leap from the camera to using pallet knifes and paints?
RS: Photography became everywhere with the use of smart phones not at the time where we take photos and we don’t see them until they are developed. So I shifted to another form of art and I love colors and compositions.
Portrait, Portraits Series
Mixed Media on Canvas, 80 cm x 60 cm
ASI: As a painter, your work is very expressive, full of colour, movement and body. Been a self trained artist (like myself), you must have been influenced by artists around you? What or who was the biggest influence over your painting style? Also, would you consider yourself part of a ‘group’ of artists that has a particular way of working?
RS: I took lessons and I always get advice from my teacher Ghassan Abu Laban who has a particular style. I am influenced by all my travels, visits to galleries and museums, watching combinations in whatever I see. I am not part of a group but there is some elements of technique for the ones who studied with the same teacher.
ASI: Some of your paintings feel like abstract figuratives and portraits. The figuratives like distant crowds of people, the portraits blurred and thick with paint. What’s your reason behind making the human form abstract? To blurr the face of a portrait is very interesting, it opens up a whole new set of rules and implications to the portrait. I too take away the faces of my portraits, in order to then allow the image to reinvent itself, to allow the viewer to ‘look’ at the image with a different set of emotions etc.
RS: I like to paint abstracted elements whether it was a landscape or figures always using thick paints and layers. The viewer can interpret the paintings in the way they see and feel.
ASI: I love your emotional abstracts. In particular the painting entitled ‘Emotions, State of the Spirit’. I wondered if these works were either politically, socially, emotionally or culturally inspired?
RS: I don’t indicate politics mainly they reflect emotions at the time when the painting is painted, could also be culturally inspired.
ASI: What is your working structure? How do you start a painting? Do you have a finished idea before you start, or do you work totally intuitively?
RS: I work totally intuitively.
ASI: Your experience as an artist so far has been incredible! Having exhibitions at the UNESCO Premises in Paris, inaugurated by Her Majesty Queen Rania Al-Abdallah, solo shows in both Jordan and Paris. What has been your highlight so far?
RS: This particular exhibit in Paris was highlighted a lot by the press because HM Queen Rania inaugurated as part of a Jordanian night. Recently also I was in Dubai and I was featured as the only Jordanian in the book “Women and Art” launch. The book is prepared and written by Dr. Monica Mergiu.
ASI: The world is going through a strange shift at the moment, on a political level. Conflicts seem stronger than ever sadly. Has the recent Syrian, and indeed the Iraqi conflicts, effected you as an artist-woman-Jordanian? Also, has Jordan seen a rise in artistic practices since these conflicts, has it effected the art style at all?
RS: During and after the Gulf War in 1990, many Iraqis came to Jordan and because Iraq is a rich urban culture, art and music is an integral part of their culture. They influenced the art scene and you could feel a change in Amman in particular but many of them left and immigrated leaving behind their influence on artistes regardless of gender. They also worked as art teachers at schools and art centres which also influence their students. The recent Syrian conflict may have influenced the crafts and artisans as Syrians especially those who used to live in big cities have a strong mastery of handicrafts and fine artisan work in the use of mother of pearls, wood, ceramics, copper, etc…You will be surprised that many crafts are executed by men due to the physical labour required sometimes.Finally…Jordan is a beautiful place, rich in history, colourful and has a thriving art scene!
ASI: What would you say that Jordan needs the most (if anything) to enrich the art scene it already has? Would you say that Amman in particular needs more artist’s residencies for example? To get international artists over to work in Jordan.
RS: That would be amazing to have more art residencies and bring international artists to Jordan even maybe have artists retreats in different parts of the country, there are amazing places that are inspiring. Exposure to the international market is key especially for many who do not have the chance to travel a lot or meet other artists.
Beginnings, State of the Spirit Series
Oil on Canvas, 55cm x70 cm
Expression, State of the Spirit Series
Oil on Canvas, 40cm x 50cm
The Red Series (2)
Oil on Canvas, 55cm x 70cm each
She makes her viewers really consider the way that we apprehend the world around us and to make us think about the reality going on outside ourselves and which our eyes and imaginations then organize into meaningful things for us. The elegance of her means of playing with such strong emotions is one of the reasons why her work is so strong.
TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT RANA SAFADI PLEASE CONTACT HER DIRECTLY HERE.