Qatari artist Abdulaziz Yousef draws a parallel between Islamic art and pop culture in his first solo exhibition — ‘Arabian Nights’— that opened recently at the Qatari House for Arts.
Through his two-week long solo show, Yousef invites people to look into some of the most memorable episodes and characters from Arabian Nights, a famous collection of Middle Esatern folk tales, as he attempts to retell the stories on dozens of canvases.
“The Arabian Nights stories are an essential example of Islamic pop culture between 1200 AD and 1500 AD. Simple language was used to express the fantasy of common people, which has made the stories unforgettable and popular for centuries,” Yousef explained.
“My belief in this theory has inspired me to reflect in my youth creating visual representation of the nights to invite young people to learn more about Islamic art, its history, heritage and identity,” he added.
Yousef said his concept possesses a cohesive element delving into the stories contained in the classic tale ideal for presenting some facets of Islamic art.
Including historical tales, love stories, tragedies, comedies and poems which derive influences from varied cultures, the Arabian Nights is hailed as one of the most popular tales of all time. It uses a unique way of storytelling effectively executed through ‘a story within a story’ framework resulting in a richly layered narrative texture even broader than modern literature.
Also called ‘One Thousand and One Nights’, the tale has featured in varied media including movies, TV serials, music and games and this time Yousef tries to capture the story in painting with characters such as Scheherazade, Sindbad, and Shahryar, which have been etched in the minds of people for centuries.
Yousef, who has been training abroad, narrates the story explicitly through his bold and sometimes flamboyant style through acrylic, oil and mixed media.
Starting his artistic voyage at a tender age, he said, his unique style has developed through appreciating other artists’ works and searching for novel ideas using new-age technologies like the internet.
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