Expatriate artists in Qatar have lauded the Souq Waqif Art Centre for the assistance the facility provides in terms of work space, exposure, networking, and extra income, among others.
Having been to other countries in the Gulf like the UAE and Saudi Arabia, Eugene Espinosa said Qatar is “incomparable” when it comes to government support for artists, and the state’s thrust to promote Qatari culture and arts.
“Based on my work experience in the Gulf, Qatar provides the most support for artists compared to other GCC countries. In return, I also support the centre’s thrust to promote Qatari culture through art,” said the Filipino artist, who has been with the centre for the past eight months.
Espinosa said the opportunity to work at the centre has improved his people skills due to the throngs of tourists that interact with him while visiting the area. “Among other Arabs, the Saudis are fascinated with charcoal portraits. Many Europeans, on the other hand, are attracted to landscape paintings and abstract art,” he added.
Thai national Sinchai Zonputh displays his works at the centre every Thursday and Friday evenings. The senior human resources officer said he is thankful to the centre, which provides him a venue to showcase his mixed-media paintings and paper mache artworks.
Zonputh is also a member of QatArt Handmade Community, and is active in the group’s training workshops and handmade market held at Katara’s Building 19. “The Suoq Waqif Art Centre has helped expand my network, allowing me to reach out further to those who want to learn more about art through trainings and workshops,” he said.
Mohamed Rageh, an artist from Yemen, told Gulf Times he finishes a charcoal sketch roughly within one hour, and completes some three to four portraits in a day.
“Aside from the visitors who buy my works at the centre, I am thankful that the management has provided me the opportunity to expand my clientele base because, like other artists here, I also get some work from other clients outside,” he pointed out.
Both Seena Anand and Rajeesh Ravi are artists from India. The two agree that their connection with the centre has created a positive impact in their careers as artists.
Since she started with the centre in April 2016, Anand was able to sell more than 10 of her works. Her clients are usually Europeans who buy paintings as souvenirs. Only recently, she was able to sell three of her works.
“I like the Qatari culture so, I usually go around and take photos and integrate the details into my paintings,” Anand said when asked how she gets her inspiration to paint.
Meanwhile, Ravi said he has been painting for more than four years at the centre. “I usually do portraits, which had helped me get some freelance work. In my free time, I can do my own paintings and sell them at the centre,” he said.
He added: “Qatar is a good place for artists; and I am very happy to work at the Souq Waqif Art Centre. For a long time, I used to work as a graphic designer but I did not feel satisfied with what I was doing. But since I started working here, it was the first time I felt happy with what I was doing.”