Places of beauty

For the last 4 weeks or so, I have been preoccupied with painting in chocolate for Alzheimer’s, and preparing for my rather long trip to Amman, Jordan. I have not really painted on canvas all this while.

I am sitting in my old bedroom in Amman (a rather unfortunate ensemble of white and pink from my former life as a sixteen year-old), while the rain spits and spatters outside. Today is the coldest day since I’ve been here. A mere 13 degrees, which is spring weather for my hearty fellow Canadians. For us here, it is like a return to winter. If not for the random, unwelcome apartment buildings and the wet haze, I would have still been able to see the old white mosque in the far distance, that I once painted as a teenager.

My return to Amman reminded me of one of the recurrent themes in my paintings over the past two years. I was sitting in the waiting room at the dentist’s last Wednesday, when I suddenly heard the call to prayer. I was struck by a sound I had grown so used to in my childhood, but hadn’t heard for years, living in Canada. It is a spiritual, soul-piercing but gentle chant that – when performed by a beautiful voice – lifts one up above all the noise, the fumes, the daily grind, and for a few moments, one is able to transcend the status quo.

This inspired me to dig out all my mosque paintings thus far, and to get excited about renditions in the future once I return to my studio. To me, mosques are places of beauty, no matter how plainly they are built. To get the whole experience, one must hear the call to prayer while looking at the paintings. A great focus for my next painting blog when I get home :). I hope to do a whole new series, inspired by my visit home with my family.

In the meantime, I share these modest contributions. They are placed in chronological order, ranging from acrylic and brush, to thick, plaster-like medium and inks, to pouring medium (in ‘Renaissance’) and a mix of gel medium and beads in the final piece.

Hopefully, there will be more to come.

A small note: all three pieces, ‘Ode to Syria’ were created as a gift to my Syrian cousins last year. They are  a collage of domes and minarets from different mosques that exist in Damascus and Aleppo, some of which have been damaged significantly by the war. They are an ode to a country that is no longer what it once was, with the hope that its people – our sisters and brothers – find peace once more.

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