Riyadh exhibition captures an artist’s journey into the soul of Syria

The paintings of Dr. Tarif Sioufi will be on display in Riyadh until Dec. 7.
Updated 09 November 2018

Riyadh exhibition captures an artist’s journey into the soul of Syria

  • Acoustic Art gallery and tea lounge was one of the first lounges in Riyadh to feature art as a centerpiece
  • Dr. Tarif Sioufi: “Life is colorful, it’s a flower bouquet with different shades”

RIYADH: “Every painting is a voyage into a sacred harbor,” the Renaissance painter Giotto said. And that is true for Dr. Tarif Sioufi, a former architect who has become an accomplished painter of the soul. For the past 14 years Sioufi has focused on his artwork and paintings. “Art is in my blood. From a blank canvas you can create a masterpiece and this is quite difficult,” he said. “There are days I work on three paintings, and only one of them I consider mature enough to display. Painting is personal, and I am my biggest critic.”
In a modern world where many people are focused on fashion and daily life, Sioufi directs his attention to questions of civilization and heritage, and human suffering.
“A subject which I got into deeply is human anguish. Because of current events in the Arab world, pain and anguish have become part of everyday life for people,” he said.
Sioufi has painted 15 works on the subject. They are featured in an exhibition entitled “The Shades of Humanity” at the Acoustic Art gallery in Riyadh.
The events of the Syrian conflict, and the pain and heartache of the country’s population, are shown explicitly in his work.
“The exhibition is a look at individuals and their reactions to everyday life,” the artist said. Sioufi uses a range of colors to express his mood and feelings. “I expressed myself through art, giving the paintings life through color. Each one has a sense of identification through certain colors. There are days an individual is yellow, green, pink or white. In addition, the movement varies. You can tell the reaction of the person,” he said.

Emotion in art
“Life is colorful, it’s a flower bouquet with different shades,” he said. “It’s the same with the gathering of people. You can see the reactions of people when they gather, and I tried to express that in my paintings for the shades of humanity.” One painting, for example, is a mix of of green, white and black, with many abstract individuals. “The green is in different shades, which represents Saudi. Black represents the abaya and white the pure faces.”
The artist’s wife, Sawsan, joined him at the exhibition. “I never imagined that a person could be this affected by real life,” she said. “All his feelings are portrayed. It was difficult for him, for us, yet he found an outlet. He considers each painting as his child.”

Art has no restrictions
Acoustic Art gallery and tea lounge was one of the first lounges in Riyadh to feature art as a centerpiece.
Samar Al-Hashim, the gallery’s owner, said: “It was established 2007 in Alkhobar, because at that time it was a more cosmopolitan city and it was a success.
Five years ago, we decided to open it in Riyadh. Art has no restrictions. We faced some difficulties in the beginning, but I was persistent.
“When I first opened the lounge, people would comment on the beauty of the place, but what they didn’t realize is what gave it its beauty — the paintings and art. Every two months we hold a new exhibition with a different artist. The paintings are sold almost 80 percent of the time.
“I love art,” Al-Hashim added. “My goal is that each household has a piece of art that they are proud of. Right now, we have Misk Art, and I feel that our country is supporting it.”
The gallery has had many visitors since it opened, including Prince Sultan bin Salman and Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf. The UK ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Simon Collis, also visited the gallery recently.

Saudi university leads way with new music academy

Updated 29 min 22 sec ago

Saudi university leads way with new music academy

  • Taif University (TU) has hired some of the Kingdom's top professional music instructors
  • The music courses will include singing training, involving tuition in vocal keynotes, pitch and sight-reading exercises, and the singing of Arabic poetry

JEDDAH: A Saudi university is hitting the high notes after becoming the first in the Kingdom to offer music courses to students.

Some of the country’s top professional instructors have been hired by Taif University (TU) to run training sessions in singing, poetry and the playing of musical instruments. 

Although the courses are not part of the city university’s curriculum, education chiefs hope the program will lead the way in developing young musical talent in the Kingdom.

Makkah Gov. Prince Khaled Al-Faisal inspired the initiative a year ago, and students are already lining up to join the new music academy on the university’s main campus.

The music courses will include singing training, involving tuition in vocal keynotes, pitch and sight-reading exercises, and the singing of Arabic poetry. Starting next month, experts will also be on hand to teach students how to play the lute, dulcimer and piano.

TU spokesman, Saleh Al-Thubaiti, told Arab News: “TU has turned an idea into reality. The academy offers several projects, the most important of which is the Prince Abdullah Al-Faisal International Prize for Arabic Poetry.”

He said that the poetry club at the TU Arab Poetry Academy had attracted more than 850 applications from students wishing to take part in poetry writing, recitation, and music, and they would be performing in concerts this semester.

Al-Thubaiti said: “The poetry-writing course will focus on teaching students aspects of Arabic prosody (the patterns of rhythm and sound used in poetry) in an innovative manner.”

Trainees will be given the opportunity to present their poems at special student soirees and publish their poetry in an online magazine for young people.

The academy also plans to launch an annual on-campus summer gathering for young poets.

Those taking part in the poetry-recitation course will learn how to recite poetry and make audio books for general listeners and people with special needs.

The TU Arab Poetry Academy recently held its first matinee event when faculty members and students recited several poems.

“The university campus is not all about work and textbooks,” Al-Thubaiti said. 

“Students are interested in other activities that can help them develop their talents and skills. We believe the university is providing an environment where students can develop themselves on various personal and academic levels.”

In December last year, the poetry academy held its first concert which was attended by the university’s governor, president, academics and students. It included poetry readings and a performance of national and traditional songs by the university band.

Director of the poetry academy, Dr. Mansour Al-Harthi, told Arab News that 500 students had enrolled on the music course, adding that the city of Taif had long been renowned for its musical activities.