Artist offers hope in war-ravaged country

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Yemeni artist Rawya Ahmed opened her first personal exhibition in the Houthi-controlled Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

Instead of visualizing the pains of war and destruction, the artist's paintings offer a rare serene beauty, which she hopes will console the people who have been caught up in the bloody war.

"For me, it was a discharge of negative energy that I have got during the war. I used to feel annoyed but didn't know how to get rid of the pressures. Luckily, I finally found that I can seek shelter in the beautiful things," Ahmed says.

Ahmed's exhibition is a rarity in Yemen since the war erupted in 2014. For most Yemenis, the most pressing problems are escaping the next air raid or finding the next meal for their families. But some artists, like Ahmed, are now trying to put the country in a positive light through their brushes and colors, and to find an escape for the people and themselves to momentarily forget the sounds of explosions and air raids.

In Ahmed's paintings, she has tried to change the misery on people's faces by using delightful colors.

"In the exhibition, we have special sections on paintings of famous people in the country, such as the Yemeni writer and poet Abdullah Al-Baradouni, and the singer Abu Bakr Salem," Ahmed says, adding that the artistic portraits of familiar faces can offer people a nostalgic consolation of the time before the war erupted.

Many visitors who came to the exhibition believed it could alleviate the despair inside their hearts.

Samah Al-Wajih, one of the visitors who attended the exhibition, expressed her gladness about the paintings and wished all the world to see that there is still beauty, despite the destruction, in the country.

"This certainly calls on the world that there are hope and life inside this war-ravaged country," Al-Wajih says.

Abdul Wasea Al-Ahnoumi, an organizer of the exhibition, says: "Young men and women are looking, through their paintings, for love, peace and safety away from the war. In these drawings, you can feel the touches of a person who wants peace and a good life far off the crazy war that destroyed souls."

The fighting between Iran-backed Houthi militia and a Saudi-led military coalition supporting the country's internationally recognized government has left the Arab country in ruins.

"The war needs to stop. We need responsible authorities to help us protect peace and art, not inciting wars," the artist says.

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