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Artist turns rubbish into art in Yemen

China Daily | Updated: 2020-03-19 10:30

Yemeni artist Yassin Ghaleb introduces his artworks inside his house in Sanaa, Yemen, on March 4, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

SANAA, Yemen-At his home in the capital Sanaa, Yemeni artist Yassin Ghaleb is turning rubbish from the streets into beautiful paintings and sculptures against the background of an ongoing civil war in the country.

Ghaleb said his art aims at encouraging creativity in society.

"My idea maybe is still a minor one, but if it is adopted and taught in schools about how to use and take advantage of every material, we will find a beautiful environment," he said.

"We will find good ideas for our children who are the creators of the future, and this means creativity from normal circumstances," Ghaleb added.

Inspired by the environment, Ghaleb draws the traditional architecture in the Old City of Sanaa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as clothes and Jambiya, a Yemeni curved dagger.

"I was a member of the Syndicate of Fine Art, and this interest came mainly as a result of my architecture background and my love for plastic arts," he said.

"Some materials, which people see as rubbish, appear in my eyes as something else. This encourages me to pick up the garbage up and try as much as possible to convert it into a valuable object," Ghaleb added.

Ghaleb's wife and their three children are also involved in this art as a family hobby.

"I am doing this for my love for art," he said.

Ghaleb has converted his reception room into an art exhibition for visitors, but still almost no visitor comes to buy an art piece amid the dire economic situation in the country.

"In this country, culture and art cannot feed you. Since 1988, I haven't seen a Yemeni coming to buy something or expressing the will to obtain a painting," he said.

"Unfortunately, there is an insufficient visual culture ... despite much evidence that art is rooted in the lives of Yemenis," Ghaleb added.

Yemen has been mired in a civil war since late 2014 when Houthi rebels seized control of much of the country's north and forced the government of President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi out of Sanaa.

A Saudi-led military coalition intervened in March 2015 to support Hadi's government.

The war has killed tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, displaced more than 3 million, cut public sector wages and pushed the country to the brink of famine.

"Of course, the war is a great disaster which spoils everything, ... and we hope it will end," Ghaleb said.


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