“Every painting is a voyage into a sacred harbor,” the Renaissance painter Giotto said.
And that is true for Dr. Tarif Sioufi, a former architect who has become an accomplished painter of the soul.
For the past 14 years Sioufi has focused on his artwork and paintings. “Art is in my blood. From a blank canvas you can create a masterpiece and this is quite difficult,” he said. “There are days I work on three paintings, and only one of them I consider mature enough to display. Painting is personal, and I am my biggest critic.”
In a modern world where many people are focused on fashion and daily life, Sioufi directs his attention to questions of civilization and heritage, and human suffering.
“A subject which I got into deeply is human anguish. Because of current events in the Arab world, pain and anguish have become part of everyday life for people,” he said.
Sioufi has painted 15 works on the subject. They are featured in an exhibition entitled “The Shades of Humanity” at the Acoustic Art gallery in Riyadh.
The events of the Syrian conflict, and the pain and heartache of the country’s population, are shown explicitly in his work.
“The exhibition is a look at individuals and their reactions to everyday life,” the artist said. Sioufi uses a range of colors to express his mood and feelings. “I expressed myself through art, giving the paintings life through color. Each one has a sense of identification through certain colors. There are days an individual is yellow, green, pink or white. In addition, the movement varies. You can tell the reaction of the person,” he said.
“Life is colorful, it’s a flower bouquet with different shades,” he said. “It’s the same with the gathering of people. You can see the reactions of people when they gather, and I tried to express that in my paintings for the shades of humanity.” One painting, for example, is a mix of of green, white and black, with many abstract individuals. “The green is in different shades, which represents Saudi. Black represents the abaya and white the pure faces.”
The artist’s wife, Sawsan, joined him at the exhibition. “I never imagined that a person could be this affected by real life,” she said. “All his feelings are portrayed. It was difficult for him, for us, yet he found an outlet. He considers each painting as his child.”
Acoustic Art gallery and tea lounge was one of the first lounges in Riyadh to feature art as a centerpiece.
Samar Al-Hashim, the gallery’s owner, said: “It was established 2007 in Alkhobar, because at that time it was a more cosmopolitan city and it was a success.
Five years ago, we decided to open it in Riyadh. Art has no restrictions. We faced some difficulties in the beginning, but I was persistent.
“When I first opened the lounge, people would comment on the beauty of the place, but what they didn’t realize is what gave it its beauty — the paintings and art. Every two months we hold a new exhibition with a different artist. The paintings are sold almost 80 percent of the time.
“I love art,” Al-Hashim added. “My goal is that each household has a piece of art that they are proud of. Right now, we have Misk Art, and I feel that our country is supporting it.”
The gallery has had many visitors since it opened, including Prince Sultan bin Salman and Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf. The UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Simon Collis, also visited the gallery recently.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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