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‘Humanitarian’ female painter calls for detachment from materialism

By Andrea López-Tomàs - Apr 22,2018 - Last updated at Apr 22,2018

Karima Ben Otman poses in front of her paintings at the opening of her new exhibition at the Wadi Finan art gallery on Saturday (Photo courtesy of Wadi Finan art gallery)

AMMAN — Artist Karima Bin Otman says she tries to "bring joy and hope to people in disturbing times", describing her paintings displayed at the Wadi Finan art gallery as part of her new exhibition "Seascapes of the Soul" as “humanitarian”.

Held under the patronage of HRH Princess Wijdan, the show includes several paintings seeking to strengthen human values and go back to spirituality. “We are losing human values. Nowadays, society is full of greed and selfishness and I just want to bring hope through my art,” Bin Otman told The Jordan Times at the opening of the exhibition on Saturday.  

She explained the title of the exhibition by the “spirituality” of her pieces, reflecting on the current “materialistic” world and its effects on human relations. “At the end of the day, when we leave this world, what we bring with us is the impact we left on people, not the wealth or the status we have accomplished,” she explained.

Bin Otman’s solo exhibition presents surrealistic pieces full of colour and strong lines inspired by her personal background in different countries. Born in London to Jordanian and Libyan parents, she moved to Amman when she was nine and studied in Italy in the 1990s. She now lives in Cyprus where she has her own gallery.

“My childhood in Jordan had an impact on my work through Arabic calligraphy, which is why my art is full of strong lines,” the artist explained. 

She also recognised the Western influence on her art stemming from her studies in Italy. “My freedom to express the human portrait comes from my time in Europe; the use of nudity by Arab artists is not very common,” Bin Otman remarked.

Her enthusiasm to make change through art led her to become an Art Ambassador for Peace under the international initiative of Women in Art for Peace, whereby over 20 female artists from around the globe met to promote peace through cultural events and art exhibitions. 

 “Women have had so many other responsibilities that they haven’t been able to focus on art as men have been doing throughout history,” she noted, adding “Nowadays, leaders just think about destruction, they create wars for their own interests. It is about time that we start putting our hands together to think of the wellbeing of the majority, and not just of the individuals.”

The exhibition will be running through May 7.

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