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Local exhibition displays Safaitic-inspired artwork

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Nov 01,2022 - Last updated at Nov 01,2022

AMMAN — The formative Jordanian artist Rawan Adwan displayed her artwork in a week-long exhibition titled “Inspired by the Badia” at the Jordanian Artists Association (JAA).

The exhibition featured 23 pieces inspired by Safaitic inscriptions on old basalt volcanic stones.

Adwan’s work employed these ancient inscriptions, which portray life in the Jordanian desert over 3,000 years ago, in modern artistic creations.

The artist noted that these pieces, which combine the past with the present, aim to “create a dialogue between two different cultures” that share many symbols and values. 

“My goal is to bring these carvings back to life and make them more relevant to modern people, while also maintaining their authentic spirit,” she told The Jordan Times in a recent interview. 

The inscriptions are recreated on rough textured surfaces to imitate the feel of basalt rocks, according to Adwan. 

Her paintings feature spiritual representations of animals, including horses, bulls, goats, gazelles and ostriches, as “strong and royal creatures” portrayed in a dynamic state of movement.  

They also show hunting practices and funeral scenes as well as drawings of men and women dancing or enjoying the sound of the flute. 

Camels serve as a recurring element in Adwan’s paintings. 

“This animal, which is a symbol of strength and tolerance, is the oldest guide and companion of the Arab man in the desert,” Adwan said. 

She also noted that the types of animals and natural scenes represented in these carvings trace the environmental changes in the region over thousands of years. 

The shape of a circle is a prominent feature of many of these paintings, representing “the continuity of life and the bright sun of the desert”, to the artist.

“I very much admire these carvings and the people who created them. It’s clear that they lived in harmony with their surrounding environment,” she said. 

Adwan also employed Safaitic writing in most of her paintings. 

She noted that they “form a link between ancient and modern Arab writings”, indicating the evolution of the Arabic language through the ages.

The artist, who is currently residing in Switzerland, became inspired by a book on Safaitic inscriptions while she was working at the Jordan Archaeological Museum in 2003.

Her latest exhibition in Jordan, which opened last Tuesday, was attended by artists, members of the Swiss diplomatic corps and representatives from the Ministry of Culture. 

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