By Benjamin Wiacek
Art exhibits in Yemen are not really common. However since the uprising in 2011, more creative forms of expression have taken place. Numerous artists used this opportunity to share their activism and their views during these historical events. Many photographers, painters, poets, musicians, filmmakers, etc., participated in the revolution and thus contributed to the development of the art scene in Yemen.
Born in 1954 in Al-Dhale’ province, Abdo al-Hothaify is Brigadier General in the Armed Forces and a Member of Parliament.
Al-Hothaify established his first exhibition in Italy in 1976, but began painting many years before. “I began painting when I was a child, around 4 years old I think,” he said. “I love art, it allows me to say something about myself.”
Since then he obtained a Master Degree in Arts in Italy and participated in numerous exhibits in cities all over the world including London, Paris, Tunis, and Bagdad, etc.
“This last exhibition is to reflect on my feelings regarding what is happening around me,” explained al-Hothaify.
Due to the events in Yemen during the past two years, his recent work focuses on the revolution. The paintings show youth protesting in the streets of Yemen, women taking part in the uprising or the attacks by security forces against protesters.
“My goal here was to give credit to the youth, to show what they did,” commented the artist. “They have been spoiled by the politics, so I wanted to give them back what they deserved.”
Dozens of people, including the Prime Minister Mohammed Salem Bassendwa and Sana’a’s mayor Abdul Qader Hilal, attended the opening of the exhibit that lasted for two weeks. While the first floor was reserved for the uprising-related paintings, the second floor showed some of al-Hothaify’s previous work, focused on the culture and history of Yemen and the region.
“It was important to show that as well, because this is about my personality.”
Being in politics, he surely expresses his opinions in a certain way, but despite his work as an MP and his participation in the media committee of the Parliament, Al-Hothaify insists on continuing his passion for the arts and for expressing himself in an alternative way.
“You know, there are only two things I really love in this world: horseback riding and art!”
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