AMMAN - From landscapes to abstract pieces, an exhibition at Al Hussein Park is showcasing artwork from an unlikely source.
This week marks the third exhibition of art produced by inmates from rehabilitation centres across the Kingdom.
The public exhibition, which opened on Sunday evening and runs through Thursday, showcases 55 paintings by some 30 male and female prisoners.
Younis Omari, an artist who has been teaching inmates to paint for the last three years, said the medium has served as a vehicle for rehabilitation.
"These paintings are open windows to the psychology of prisoners and they help us observe their thoughts," he told The Jordan Times.
The paintbrush and canvas have played an important role in the rehabilitation process for the inmates, as it encourages them to showcase their inner talents and express their emotions, Omari noted.
"These paintings reflect the feelings of the prisoners. For example, you can determine whether a prisoner is angry or comfortable by the colours he uses," he explained.
Darker pieces using blacks and browns are a manifestation of the painter’s anger and despair, Omari said, while shades of white and blue embody the artist's optimism and appreciation of life.
Manal Sweidan, a visitor at the annual exhibition, organised by the Public Security Department’s correctional and rehabilitation centres administration and the Greater Amman Municipality, described the initiative as “marvellous”.
"It enables us to have an idea about prisoners’ thoughts and feelings. The good thing is that all these paintings reflect joy and optimism and this really draws visitors," she said.
The idea of using painting as a form of therapy started three years ago when the administration began providing inmates with courses in fine arts. During the classes, Omari discovered a wealth of untapped talent amongst the prisoners.
"There are at least five talented artists in every centre," he said.
As the courses have continued over the last three years, correctional facilities have reported huge improvements in inmates’ states of mind and outlook on life, he said.
According to Omari, the administration is going to carry out similar activities in prisons across the Kingdom.
He indicated that officials are planning to hold a similar art exhibition next year, expanding the range of inmates’ skills to painting on clay and ceramics.
With the next exhibition a year away, inmates are already eager to pick up their paintbrushes and expand their boundaries, he said.
“Painting has given them a new lease on life.”
By Muath Freij