Sunday, 10 May 2015 19:57

An artist’s documentary of war

How Yemeni artist Mazher Nizar depicts the ongoing war through his paintings . My love for the ‘Arab world’ is old - one of my favorite places to have lived in was Cairo. I loved the people, the food, the music, the language... and still do. My love for modern art is rather new and thanks to social media those two have ‘found each other’.

I have discovered that abstract art from the Middle East ‘speaks to me’ more than any other art form.   I ‘met’ Yemeni artist Mazher Nizar through a mutual friend who had commented on one of his paintings which caught my eye in October 2014. Mazher paints mostly women and I love his way of depicting them with such vibrancy and color, so strong and yet so serene. They seem filled with such inner peace and surrounded by an aura of this very modest, almost secret wisdom, evoking humbled respect and awe. I always feel a sort of shy admiration when I see Mazher’s women – they all seem so noble and kind hearted.

I’ve shared many of his paintings and often my thoughts about them online which have lead Mazher several times to comment on how well I read his work. It touches something in me and no doubt in many others among his followers and admirers. The artist was actually born in Mumbai in a Yemeni family, and graduated in Graphic Arts from the Government College of Art and Craft in Kolkata. Since 1986, Mazher has been living and working in Sana'a in Yemen and participating in national and international art exhibits. But his artistic roots lie in India where his creativity started as he explains in this interview.

Women have always inspired him and he holds a deep admiration for them. The historical figure of the Queen of Sheeba - originating from the southern Arabian region that is today Yemen, moved Mazher to paint ordinary women as queens. Most of them are veiled - he finds the hidden beauty in them inspiring and very spiritual, giving them a light shining from within.

I for my part have been totally fascinated by these strong and serene figures, often looking for them in my newsfeed. I’ve always felt a tiny touch of sadness in them, but at the beginning of 2015 they started changing - they were still beautiful, but there was a sort of shadow around them, a deep sadness and almost paralyzing fear could be sensed underneath their beauty. In January I described one of them as ‘composed yet torn, glowing yet sad, focused yet unsure’ - a totally mesmerizing amalgamation of emotions.        

With the resignation of the country’s president and the increasing power of the Houthi rebels, the nation is now at war and bombing by the Islamic State started in March 2015. I have since been reading Mazher’s paintings like one would read the news. At one point he started a series called cyclonic silence and numbered his paintings - it was the silence before the bombings started - his images to me more distressing than the actual news.          

Of course, sometimes I still read up on the ‘facts’, especially when I have not seen a painting up in a few days. I was glad to see that the latest series of Mazher’s works is called ‘Hope’ and I know we are all anxiously waiting for the day when we’ll see the beautiful, vibrant women return in all their glory without those looming shadows around them. Not only the women in Mazher’s paintings, but all women and all human beings should be able to live in peace and emit beauty and serenity in real life and on this amazing artist’s canvases.

To find out more about Mazher Nizar see or his Facebook profile


Mary Anglberger

I’ve been travelling the world for over 20 years teaching English and am now taking time to follow my passion for photography and writing. I want to share all the things, events and people that have inspired and inspire me and spread those positive vibes all around.

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