Contemporary Yemen Art

This section is devoted to contemporary Yemen art and artists. It will feature articles and information about art related to Yemen, as well as feature artists. If you wish more information about a particular artist, please contact the artists directly. AIYS does not endorse any information obtained off-site, but provides this page as a service for those interested in the subject.

The editor invites artists to submit samples of their work for this page.


Visions of Yemen

An exhibition of Yemeni art was held at the Kufa Gallery in London from 8 to 15 November 2000. The exhibition was initiated and hosted by the British-Yemeni Society, which is based in London. It was sponsored by H.E. The Ambassador of the Republic of Yemen, The Seven Pillars of Wisdom Trust, Longulf Trading (UK) Ltd., Visiting Arts, Al Tajir World of Islam Trust, Nimir Petroleum Company Ltd., Thabet International Ltd., and Yemenia. 11 British and 17 Yemeni artists were represented. The British-Yemeni Society suggests that since unification in 1990 an increasing number of British artists have visited Yemen, but the works of contemporary Yemeni artists is little known outside the Arabian Peninsula. Thus the purpose of the exhibition was to introduce their work to a wider British public, and to present it alongside recent paintings of Yemen by British artists as well as to bring into focus differing perceptions of that uniquely beautiful country. All of the paintings were for sale.

However, prior to the London showing, this first major British exhibition of Yemeni paintings was previewed from 23 October to 2 November in Cardiff, Wales, in the Norwegian Church Arts Centre - a locally well-known land mark. The Norwegian Church is a symbol of Cardiff Bay's multicultural heritage in that it was set up as a mission to seamen coming into Cardiff Docks, such as the many Yemeni sailors who arrived on ships from the port of Aden. The long-established and thriving Yemeni community in Cardiff opened its first custom-built mosque and community centre in 1994; other exhibitions and cultural exchanges have already taken place there, celebrated also with poetry and performance.

The emergence of a contemporary art movement in Yemen is probably a phenomenon of the last three decades, and whereas previously only flowers and animals were represented in paintings on the outsides of houses, now these artists reflect growing interaction with other cultures, with exuberant use of colour and symbolism, and the use of varying media, such as watercolours, silk-screen prints, block prints, and oils.

Many of the Yemeni artists studied abroad, mainly in the Soviet Union. Their work has been shown in several Arab and European countries but never before in Britain. The exhibition was arranged with the assistance of the Yemeni International Cultural Circle (Al-Halaqa) in Sana'a. Al Halaqa, a non-governmental organisation, was established in 1998 with the main aim of promoting the visual arts in Yemen, and of bringing the country's contemporary art movement to international attention.

Names of participating artists are as follows:

Karen Armitage, Julian Barrow, Anthony Bream, Shan Egerton, Anita Hall, Ken Howard R.A., Caroline Lees, Christopher Miers, Annabel Ridley, Rosalind Whitman, Martin Yeoman.

Hakim Al-Akil, Abdulla Al-Ameen, Saeed Ali Alawi, Ilham Al-Arashi, Ahmad Bamadhaf, Abdulhamid Djohaaf, Yassin Ghaleb, Sabri Al-Haiki, Raimah Kassim, Kamal Al-Maqrami, Ikhlas Mansour, Amin Nasher, Amnah Al-Nassiri, Mazher Nizar, Rashad Salim, Abdul Galil Saruri, Abdo Nagi.

NB This information is obtained from the British-Yemeni Society and from the Western Mail, which is published weekly in Cardiff.

-- submitted by Barbara Evans


On-Line Yemen Art Links

People and Places from Yemen (Paintings by : NIZAR MEZHAR )

"The Queen of Sheba in Florence." [Kurt Wenner] YU 40 (1998:58).

Review of past special exibitions : Yemen ( Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna )

"WOMEN OF COLOR: An artist's obsessionbreaks Yemeni tradition." [Tijan M. Sallah]


Abdulwahab Muhammad Al-Sayrafi

c/o Tim MacIntosh-Smith
POB 10731
Sanaa, Yemen

Mr. Al-Sayrafi was born in 1968 in the Dawud Quarter, heart of the old city of Sanaa. For many generations his family has been the principal alabaster cutters in Yemen, making windows for dwellings in the capital and as far away as Rida‘. By the 1960s, however, imports of cheap coloured glass had killed off the alabaster industry, which is extremely labour intensive at both mining and cutting stages. Abdulwahab has now revived the craft of his ancestors, working on restoration projects and promoting the reintroduction of alabaster in new building. At the same time, his lighting range which has been called "sculpture in light" -- reinterprets an ancient and preculiarly Yemeni tradition for a wider, contemporay world.


Antony Bream

c/o Francine Stone
Wallingford, OXON 6TB OX10

Antoy Bream was born in London in 1943 and trained at the Royal Academy School. He is thought of primarily as a landscape and portrait painter, his works being exhibited regularly at the Fine Arts Society, the Royal Academy and the Royal Society of Portrait Painters. Mr. Bream is a master etcher, capable of using a range of techniques to great effect. A set of 10 reproductions of his etchings is available from The Tihamah Expedition. Contact Francine Stone for more information.


Barbara Evans


Keith Brockie

c/o Francine Stone
Wallingford, OXON 6TB OX10

Keith Brockie was born in 1955 and became a free lance artist shortly after taking a degree in Illustration and Printmaking from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee. His studies of Scottish flora and fauna have been shown at the Royal Scottish Museum, the Brotherton Gallery in London, and with the Scottish Arts Council. Keith Brockie's journey to the Tihamah in 1982 brought him into contact for the first time with the animal life of a tropical region. The two prints shown here are available in reproduction from The Tihamah Expedition. Contact Francine Stone for information.


Kevin Rushby


Kevin Rushby taught English in Sudan, Malaysia and Yemen before becoming a full time author and photographer. He is the author of "Eating the Flowers of Paradise: One Man's Journey through Ethiopia and Yemen" (New York, St. Martin's Press, 1999).

Jambiyah: the Yemeni dagger worn with a belt stitched in gold. The horn handle is decroated with old coins and silver studs.

Al-Hajarah: a village in Jebel Haraz viewed from the south-west in late afternoon.

Bab al-Yemen: the main gate to the old city of Sanaa with the twin minarets of the Great Mosque on the horizon.


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