By Mudassir Raja
Numerous Doha-based expatriate artists have time and again accentuated Qatar’s landscape and culture through their creative skills. There have been so many foreign eyes that reflected on the native culture and scenery of this country.
A recent illustration that brought Qatari culture into light was the photography exhibition ‘Glimpses of Qatari Culture’ held at the lobby of Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl-Doha on Saturday evening.
The week-long exhibition showcases 12 creative photographs by Maria Ovsyannikova, Russian expatriate and fine art photographer. The photographs depict her craze for Arabian horses, Qatari culture and desert life. For the photographs, she has worked with different models to get the desired results in her artwork.
Art enthusiasts, photographers and members of Russian and other expatriate communities thronged the Kempinski lobby to relish the creative work and appreciate the artistry of Maria on the opening day. The ambience of the lobby was made melodious with live music by a talented pianist.
Hailing from Moscow, Maria has been living in Qatar for seven year and working as a professional photographer. She does architectural, landscape, product and food photography. Besides that, she has a passion for fine art, local culture and heritage. Inspired by Arabian culture, her photography artworks are based mostly around it. Her images come out as a result of a fascination with the tradition of Qatar. She is trying to take viewers on her own visual journey; Qatari deserts, clear waters of the north, modern cities, and old villages.
For Maria, it is not always a representation of reality, but it is more a fantasy or a dream of the past. Her message is: ‘There is a hidden beauty in this particular region and through my pictures I would like to encourage people to learn more and go explore.”
Talking to Community, Maria said: “I am happy to have my work displayed at Kempinski because it is a very art-friendly hotel. I have already done 10 exhibitions. In the collection on display here, I have mainly highlighted desert, sea and some glimpses of animals of Qatar like Oryx, camel or horse. I am very much in love with horses and you can see that in the images showcasing the understanding of the connection between a horse and a person.
“These photos are staged. It is like a full production work. We organised models, animals, crops, environment and everything.”
Maria does photography on a daily basis and enjoys it a lot in Qatar. “I think Qatar supports aspiring photographers a lot. I will continue doing that as much as I can. The minimalistic landscape of Qatar actually makes your brain work so much that you find angles and ways to shoot beautifully. Basically, it is challenging and I accept this challenge. I have been successful so far.
Maria believes in enjoying photography. “First of all, you should do it [photography] from your heart. Secondly, you have to shoot as much as you can and explore as much as you can. You have to feel the beauty. Only then you will get amazing images.”
She has been planning to collaborate with different artists like writers, poets and painters. “Right now, I am working on a book which will be related to beautiful, sacred and undying relationship between horses and humans. When I show a good photo to my audience, I feel very complete. The photo goes into masses and spreads the message. I observe the reaction and love my work.”
Faisal al-Hajri is a Qatari artist. He is an art director of Unesco club in Athens. He said: “It is a great opportunity to meet the photographer – Maria. I see so much passion and love in her photographs. It got my attention that she is very much a global artist and has been capturing the local Qatari subjects. There are very beautiful emotions in her photos on display today. I feel very proud to see Doha is a home for everyone.”
Natalie Wherlock is a British expatriate and works as a copy-writer in Qatar. She said: “I really love Maria’s work. It is not just a kind of still piece. You can always see a story behind her work. It leaves quite a lot to your own imagination, which I like in any art form.
“There is a kind of beauty in Qatar that not all people will see. It takes a lot of creativity to create that. I see that she has really fallen in love with Qatar. As a wordsmith, I can imagine the poetry in her photos.”
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