With youth on her side and art running in her veins, Rawan Al Mahrouqi is unveiling colours of imagination through her art, which boldly explores ‘black and white’ concepts and designs. Her artistic mien transcends the ordinary; her medium defines her creative elements that refuse to be shackled to any set parameters of creativity.
A contemporary artist with a passion for all things creative, her world of art is a mélange of ideas and ideals that engage with the viewer, prodding one to go beyond the bigger picture. She has found her groove in the local, regional and even international arena through her portfolio of artistic presentations and through her dedicated ‘Makan Studio’, which testifies her assiduity to stay true to her craft.
Rawan has several aces up her sleeve and is all set to reveal a big project that she is currently working on, in conjunction with her Makan Studio (art gallery and workshop space), which is located in the Intercontinental Hotel Muscat. The Studio is where she teaches finer nuances of art to students of all ages, including professionals; it is a first of its kind local art school that offers a community for arts in Muscat.
As an emerging multidisciplinary contemporary artist, she has ensured that her work focuses on the female experience in the Arabian Gulf and explores the thin line between tradition and religion. It is an overall social commentary, which is why her works tend to be neutral, asking questions without giving an opinion; often stating facts, as she intends them to start a conversation.
An art graduate from the Sultan Qaboos University, she has explored various mediums through education and experience – she has to her credit a Digital Marketing Nanodegree from Udacity and the NYP Oman, as well as a Freelance Makeup Artistry certification from Makeup Manchester.
Drawing inspiration from the Gulf and the Arabian culture, and her personal life experiences, Rawan weaves technique with spontaneity to create a tapestry of evocative imagery. Her works express fearless fortitude and a penchant for surrealism; it also provides glimpses into her journey as an artist with resilience and determination for company.
Read on to find more, as the following interview delves into the extraordinary world of the artist, peeling back layers of her artwork to unravel the essence of her unique style.
Art Notes from Rawan
What first inspired you to become an artist, and how has your journey evolved since then?
I have always had an affinity for art and self expression and just naturally found myself creating.
Any artistic influences that may have shaped your unique approach?
I find influence in many artists’ works; I especially find music to be the most inspiring. But I have a special interest in activism through art and conceptual and contemporary art.
Many of your works convey powerful emotions. What drives you to explore these themes in your art?
As I said, it comes naturally. I work with personal issues; things I have been through, and things I am personally impacted by.
Can you share your creative process? How do you decide on a subject or idea for a new artwork?
In creating an artwork, I explore the subject through the ‘feeling’ I’m trying to express. I brainstorm with words and the different ways I can express a particular concept.
A lot of research goes into making an artwork – from the concept to production, as well as material and installation research.
How do you choose your colour palettes and materials, and what significance do they hold in your work?
I always like to stick to black and white. In recent times, I have been experimenting with colour, but I think I am more of a black and white artist. It speaks more to my work, as it’s always neutral – presenting and exploring concepts that are ‘black and white’.
What role do you believe art plays in raising awareness and inspiring change?
I believe activism through art is just as important as any other type of activism.
Technology has revolutionized the art world. How do you incorporate digital tools into your artistic process?
I like to work with animation and digital art. Technology has also helped artists a lot in research and marketing; helping to reach out to more people.
You’ve participated in various art events* – how have these experiences influenced your growth as an artist?
Art exhibitions add to your experience and exposure; it helps you grow as an artist and a creative person.
How do you find your balance between expressing your vision and inviting interpretation?
I accept that art can be interpreted in a way that I do not intend to – and I don’t mind it. I try to present it in the most neutral way – black and white – prodding people to think about it themselves.
The purpose of my art, for me, is to start conversations.
*Art Exhibitions: Duo Art Exhibition ‘Telling Tales’ (Stal Gallery, Muscat); Annual Portrait Exhibition (Stal Gallery); Choftouhonna Tunis International Feminist Art Festival; Group Exhibition Ascendance (curated by Rawan); Portrait Exhibition (Stal Gallery); Group Exhibition ‘Glory in dishonor’ (Elephant & Castle, London); Group Exhibition Transition (Menier Gallery, London); Group Exhibition ‘Reflection of the other’ (Stal Gallery); ‘Vantage Point 4’ (Sharjah Art Foundation); ‘Loud Art’ (Bait Al Zubair, Muscat); Stal Gallery Young Emerging Artist Prize 2015 (won Best Presentation Award); Red Bull Canvas Cooler (Stal Gallery); Group Exhibition ‘This is me’ (Sultan Qaboos University)