Emi­rati artist Mo­hamed Al Mazrouei to ex­hibit his work in Zurich

Can­vass­ing view­ers is tele­vi­sion show host’s mis­sion

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Dr Ma­mun Al­wani just wants peo­ple to ap­pre­ci­ate and be­gin to un­der­stand the beauty of art.

The Syr­ian- Ital­ian artist, art critic and jour­nal­ist hosts the Arab- lan­guage art ap­pre­ci­a­tion show Al­wani, which airs on Abu Dhabi TV – which is owned by Abu Dhabi Me­dia, which pub­lishes The Na­tional – on Tues­day evenings.

“If only one per­son out of ev­ery one thou­sand view­ers be­comes a fan of the show and sits down for an episode’s en­tirety to watch and to lis­ten, then I’ve ac­com­plished what I set out to do,” he says. “I was asked to de­velop a pro­gramme that com­bines all of my strengths and in­ter­ests; a pro­gramme that is cen­tred around art and that suits Abu Dhabi and the UAE, that is wor­thy of the high stan­dards of this coun­try,” he says.

Hav­ing stud­ied art in Da­m­as­cus and Rome and re­ceived his masters in art crit­i­cism from The Hague, he has been ex­hibit­ing his work in Syria and Rome for years.

He also spent a sig­nif­i­cant part of his ca­reer work­ing as cor­re­spon­dent for Al Jazeera in Rome.

“Telling a story, and hav­ing that story be about art, is a strength of mine,” he says.

“Even­tu­ally, I came up with the idea of ap­pear­ing on TV as if I am phys­i­cally en­ter­ing each paint­ing I am dis­cussing, and walk­ing around its el­e­ments.”

This for­mat, be­lieves its host, is what makes Al­wani stand out from any other art ap­pre­ci­a­tion se­ries filmed for tele­vi­sion. “We have r e creat ed a r t mas­ter­pieces in 3-D,” he says.

The first episode of Al­wani ex­am­ined the work of Ital­ian re­nais­sance pain­ter Leonardo da Vinci, es­pe­cially his Mona Lisa, which Al­wani refers to as the Jo­cunda. “It took us six months to de­velop the 3D ren­der­ing of the Jo­cunda so we can present her pro­file and show her from a 360 de­gree an­gle; it’s the first time for any­one to see an in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Mona Lisa’s pro­file,” says Al­wani.

Al­wani’s adopts an in­for­mal, con­ver­sat ional man­ner, as he chats to the viewer about ev­ery­thing from the ru­mours and con­spir­acy the­o­ries that have sur­rounded the Jo­cunda, or re­veals hid­den se­crets in the paint­ing that may not have been ap­par­ent at first glance, all draw the viewer in to a world where art be­comes ac­ces­si­ble.

“It’s as if we are all sit­ting to­gether and learn­ing about art in a fun way,” he says.

“I want to reach peo­ple and cre­ate in them a love and an un­der­stand­ing of art.”

Four episodes have aired, out A show of new works by Mo­hamed Al Mazrouei, a promi­nent Emi­rati artist, writer and poet is go­ing on dis­play in a Swiss gallery. In an ex­hi­bi­tion ti­tled Raw Cooked, the show con­tains new paint­ings as well as tex­tile works, as the artist has trans­formed some of his art­works into car­pets. The show runs from Satur­day to May 13 at AB43 Con­tem­po­rary in Zurich. of a to­tal of 40 planned. So far, fol­low­ing Leonardo, Al­wani has ex­am­ined the work of Michelan­gelo , then Raphael and in the fourth episode, Ti­tian and Giuseppe Arcim­boldo (who is best known for his por­traits with peo­ple’s heads and fa­cial fea­tures de­picted as fruits, flow­ers, books and so on). “We could have had 100 based on all the art and artists there are to ex­am­ine,” says Al­wani. But we chose to be­gin por­tray­ing artists from the Re­nais­sance pe­riod un­til the mod­ern art of to­day; we will do it chrono­log­i­cally.” In the last few min­utes of most episodes, Al­wani also pre- sents the work of an Arab artist. “In about 80 per cent of our episodes, we in­tro­duce the work of an Arab artist, en­sur­ing they get ex­po­sure, that their work is cel­e­brated and un­der­stood,” he says.

“We have a role to pro­vide sup­port, so why not shed light on the work of Arabs?”

Al­wani takes his role of teach­ing peo­ple about art, in all its dif­fer­ent for­mats, very se­ri­ously.

He wants peo­ple to learn about the dif­fer­ent schools of art, to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween im­pres­sion­ism and sur­re­al­ism, to un­der­stand cu­bism, to know the sto­ries be­hind the paint­ings.

“Soon, I will delve into the econ­omy of art as well and ex­plain how a paint­ing’s price is cal­cu­lated, how its value rises, how it gets cho­sen for a mu­seum, and so on,” he says.

“I hope we re­ally are able to reach a large seg­ment of so­ci­ety with this and de­velop in them an in­ter­est in art,” he says.

“Peo­ple have be­gun stop­ping me in the street to dis­cuss a part of the show, or tell me they are en­joy­ing it.

“With­out mar­ket­ing the show at all – and it’s clearly not a prof­itable show – we still have a view­er­ship and it’s grow­ing.”

Arabs, ad­mits Al­wani, are not as in­ter­ested in or as ap­pre­cia­tive of art as they can be. That can change, he says.

“I be­lieve that by the time we reach the 10th or 12th episode, the show will have a se­ri­ous fol­low­ing,” says Al­wani.

“My job is to keep it in­ter­est­ing, to keep telling the sto­ries be­hind the art and let the drama un­fold.”

Catch Al­wani tonight and ev­ery Tues­day evening at 9.30pm on Abu Dhabi TV. To watch past episodes on­line, visit www.abud­habitv.ae. All episodes are in Ara­bic.

Cour­tesy Abu Dhabi TV

Dr Ma­mun Al­wani takes view­ers on an ac­ces­si­ble 360-de­gree tour of some of the world’s most fa­mous art­works.

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