Nasser Al-Aswadi at the Spanish Embassy
Artist Nasser Al-Aswadi, who exhibited his work at the Spanish Embassy last Wednesday evening, works 15 hours a day over three weeks to complete a single piece. Each picture tells a different story.
“I want to tell people that we have a very rich history and culture and to transmit what we have here in Yemen,” said Al-Aswadi. “Many of the artists here copy from abroad, or are inspired by what comes from outside, but for me art has to be made of roots, of history.”
Born in Al-Hujr village, 20km from Taiz, but inspired by the Old City of Sana’a, Yemeni folklore and culture, calligraphy and women’s stories, Al-Aswadi first trained as an architect. Art courses simply weren’t available in Yemen, he says.
However, he turned to painting in 1998 and exhibited his contemporary work for the first time in Sana’a in 2001. Ten years after he first began painting, Al-Aswadi moved to France, which he now considers a second home, and divides his time between Sana’a and Marseille.
Although he has traveled to many countries for his work, Al-Aswadi chose to settle in France because it is “a country of beauty and art.” He learned French and continued to study and develop his work through internships. Al-Aswadi also took up engraving, which he now incorporates into his work.
Talking about his current pieces, which feature calligraphy, he said, “In my work, scrolls are not supposed to reveal their secrets. They are just alive again.
“I myself am fascinated by the obvious, the daily life. I wish to be able to use the energy of both words and light. Writing is at the heart of my work, and my purpose is to transcend mere terminology and proceed into the realm of signs, of a visual language.
“I would like others to perceive my own pictorial universe as a combination of history and magic,” he concluded.
Al-Aswadi’s latest work can be viewed at the Spanish Embassy until the end of the month.