Feature: Female artist uses paintings to call for reconciliation, unity in war-torn Yemen-Xinhua

Feature: Female artist uses paintings to call for reconciliation, unity in war-torn Yemen

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2023-01-08 04:53:30

SANAA, Jan. 7 (Xinhua) -- A female Yemeni artist uses her paintings to tell more Yemenis about the country's rich history, time-honored traditions, and splendid culture, as a way to plead for peace and unity in the divided country.

"In my paintings, I used the letters from the ancient Musnad scripts and symbols from the Kingdom of Saba to show how rich our history is as a country," Susan Kailian, a Sanaa-based artist, said to Xinhua during her personal exhibition held in the Houthi-controlled capital.

The Musnad script, which has a history of more than 3,000 years, is believed to be one of the earliest written systems created by the Arabs. The Kingdom of Saba, on the other hand, was a kingdom located in modern-day Yemen that flourished between the 8th century BC and the 3rd century AD. Both of them are evidence that Yemen has been one of the cradles and centers of Arab civilization.

The Yemeni artist believed that informing more Yemenis about their country's history would help the war-torn country reconcile.

"One who does not know his or her own history cannot recognize the present nor create a future. The Yemeni civilization has always been neglected, therefore I liked to shed light on glimpses of our history, which has plenty of proud achievements," the artist stated.

She added that, from a historical perspective, Yemenis, whether they are from the south or north, are the descendants of one civilization.

"While the current civil war and political divisions have separated us, we are still bonded by one history, one civilization, and one blood," said Kailian, standing next to a painting of a girl in Yemeni traditional dress.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014 when the Houthi group seized control of several northern provinces and forced the internationally recognized government out of the capital Sanaa. The war, mainly fought between Yemenis, has killed tens of thousands of people, displaced 4 million, and pushed the poorest Arab country to the brink of starvation.

Art has become a luxury out of reach for most ordinary Yemenis, as two-thirds of the population has to worry daily about bringing bread to the table. But there are still people who want to pursue aesthetic pleasures and feed their souls. For dozens of visitors at the exhibition, what catches their eyes immediately is the artist's use of bold colors and abstract designs.

"I think the paintings may seem a bit abstruse to foreigners, but as a Yemeni, I immediately find a connection to them," an exhibition-goer named Abdul Karim said, adding the artist has embedded various Yemeni traditional elements into her works.

Aside from delving into history, Kailian did not shirk from the ongoing civil war that has caused immense suffering in this ancient land. She also displayed pictures of the bloodshed, violence, and deaths, which have become a normal scene for Yemenis.

"I made these paintings to explain the miserable and painful reality that we live through, which we hope will be a phase that we can overcome," the artist explained.

"The suffering of the Yemeni nation has been too long and what pains me most is that the war is being fought by people from one nation, my nation," she said emotionally.