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Artist explores motherhood through circles, shades

By Yasmeen Kanaan - Jun 14,2019 - Last updated at Jun 14,2019

Jordanian artist Nissa Raad (far left) speaks with patrons of her new ‘UM’ exhibition focusing on motherhood at the Wadi Finan Art Gallery in Amman on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of Wadi Finan Art Gallery)

AMMAN — In a fast-paced world where motherhood has become an underrated role, artist Nissa Raad celebrates the core of what it means to be a mother.

Held at the Wadi Finan Art Gallery, the solo exhibition “UM”, is an endeavour contrary to the current trend of shocking viewers with newness or controversy. Instead, Raad’s artworks are more of an output of her personal and therapeutic artistic attempts to become whole.

“I wanted to do something that is related to me on a personal level because of my life in the past few years; my relationship to my children who depend on me as well as my relationship to my mother,” Raad told The Jordan Times.

Raad’s works centre around representing a repetitive pattern of circles. Her interest in the circle, which was very apparent as the dominant visual element, traces back to the visual and philosophical link of circles to a feeling of wholeness.

“The circle is the perfect symbol for what a mother is. It is round, similar to a mother’s breast, her stomach, her infinite love, the family circle which she is the base of, the cycle of life. The earth is also called mother earth.”

Raad adds that her interest in representing motherhood was leaning more towards an abstract representation, rather than a realistic and figurative one, as motherhood is not limited to the physical manifestation of a human mother but any idea that feels like it.

“The mother doesn’t necessarily need to be a human mother; she can be an animal, your home, the country, whatever feels like your mother. I wanted to fuse my interest in motherhood with my leaning towards abstract art, and it felt right.”

Raad’s creative process is one of spontaneity. She describes her process as if playing chess with the painting. “I make a move and then the painting makes a move, then it’s like a visual conversation between myself and the painting. It’s a give and take. I stop when I don’t see any visual anxiety.”

Raad regards herself as a self-taught artist who grew up in an artistic environment. She credits her grandmother, prominent artist Fahrelnissa Zeid for inspiring her to become the artist she is today.

In an answer to a question on why she chose the abstract school of art, Raad said that choosing abstract art was a way to challenge herself; believing it is a difficult school to approach.

“Abstraction just felt like something very free and it felt like a challenge… Sometimes when you are very free, it is actually difficult as you have many choices. At the same time, the pleasure is in how challenging this is.”

According to Raad, an individual could be taught techniques to become a painter or an artist, yet the notion of right and wrong should not be part of the journey. Raad believes that art should only be interesting and not necessarily beautiful; an expression.

“I believe you should focus on the process of creating the piece rather than the end product. If you focus on the end product you will be very fixated on getting it right and thereby you will not enjoy the process anymore.”

In a time where the line separating art from non-art is very blurred and tricky, Raad believes in process-driven art, where the main aspect for the practice is to enjoy the process.

The exhibition will run until July 4 at the Wadi Finan Art Gallery in Jabal Amman. 

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