By Salman Siddiqui/Staff Reporter

If there is one artist who is really excited to be in Qatar, it is Alik Assatrian. He has been smiling ever since he landed in Doha. In fact, so infectious is his smile that everyone around him, especially his Russian colleague who has joined him to participate in the Al Asmakh International Art Symposium, can’t help but return his smile.
“I feel like I’m in a fairytale right now. It’s always been my dream to visit this part of the world. I feel so good that sometimes I forget that I have come here to paint as well,” he told Gulf Times in an interview.
Assatrian is one of the 23 artists from around the world who are participating in the Al Asmakh International Art Symposium 2013 in Doha. The workshop will culminate with an art exhibition at the Wyndham Grand Regency Doha Hotel on March 20.
Born in 1960 in a small village in Armenia, Assatrian has been living in the Netherlands for the past 20 years. He described his artwork as somewhere between abstract and figurative.
Speaking about his current work, he said: “At the moment, I have a theme in my paintings which is about children affected by the war or ‘war children.’ It’s about the emotions of the people and their lost feelings. What we really are original as people, I’m trying to bring that out in my artwork.”
One of the recurrent themes in Assatrian’s artwork is the story of a young boy whose head is tilted upside down that continuously stares at the sky. He says on his website ( that he used to enjoy looking at the sky as a child. “I did not know what I was looking for and was astonished at the existence of heaven. Sometimes I stared so long  at the sky I used to get neck pain. Years later, this boy has become the main character in my art. I have his head at 180 degrees, so that he could continue staring at the sky without straining his neck.”
When asked what does he plan to paint in Qatar, he said laughingly “Maybe, I will paint a camel here. But maybe, my camel would be different from anything the world has ever seen,” he said with a wink in his eye.
“I’m sure the experience I gather here will inspire my art and hopefully when I return home, I will take these inspirations and make a series of artwork there as well,” he added.
The soft-spoken Russian artist Svetlana Rumak said she too was excited to be in Qatar and was glad she found a friend in Alik to show her around the country.
Rumak was born in Ukraine in 1969 and moved to Russia when she was five.
“I’ve been painting as a professional artist for the last 15 years. This is my first visit to Qatar and I like it very much,” she said.
Speaking about her art, she said: “I began with figurative art, but I’m not a realist. I like to mix different styles. I like expressionism. I like to portray life in a different way.”
On her website (,) Rumak describes her work as “a rich synthesis of unique visual vocabulary with medieval Russian iconoclasm. The canvases are inhabited by humans and animals rendered in an earthy palette, set against very stylised but highly textured backgrounds.”
Speaking about her inspiration in art she said: “I was inspired by my first love, who was a Russian artist, Felenov. He had his own distinctive style and I’m trying to develop my own style too.”
When asked what is it that she is trying to share with the world through her art, she said:
“When I was a student, my teacher used to tell me, everything has seven layers. I try to find deeper and deeper layers in my art. My message is to show the people these layers.”
Explaining further, she said: “When I paint a cup, it’s not only the cup. When I paint the flower, it’s not only the flower. When I paint the table it’s not the table. I try to say to the people through my art that you need to look deeper. Everything in the world has different sides.”

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