By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Many people only think of Sudan when its political problems hit the headlines. Koreans will have a chance to know more of Sudan's art and culture through the exhibition of accomplished Sudanese painter Rashid Diab.
Diab's exhibition ``Time Lapse via Color, Shape and Form'' opens Monday at the Nuri Gallery, in the Korea Foundation Cultural Center, downtown Seoul. The Sudanese embassy said this is the first time a painter from Sudan is staging a solo exhibition in Seoul.
On display at the exhibition are 21 of Diab's works that offer a glimpse of Sudanese culture. His work is said to be a reflection of ``a synthesis of his Sudanese heritage and an awareness of contemporary artistic developments in Europe.''
Made with rich colors, the art works are filled with traditional folk themes, Arabic calligraphy, animals, human figures and African motifs.
``The color and form may illustrate moments of sorrow, happiness, hope and despair, but the most important element is that of nostalgia for this universal world which is truly a reflection of my career. Thus, through my art I am most concerned with universality. Art for me is ultimately the connection between human beings. Art is what sustains cultures and indicates the material aspects of civilizations and as human beings we are responsible for this task,'' Diab said, in a statement.
Born in 1957, Diab was raised in Wad Medani, on the banks of the Blue Nile in Sudan. He graduated with honors from the Khartoum College of Fine Art. He moved to Madrid where he studied art at the Complutensa University, under a scholarship. Diab received his doctorate degree in painting from the university in 1991, and joined the faculty as an art teacher until 1999.
``Since I was a small child, I have loved to travel. I always wanted to be somewhere discovering new places, different types of life and other people. I constantly thought of how I could create a real and intimate relationship with distance and space. Why do things have specific dimensions and a certain shape at a certain time? These questions became an obsession with the only solution being to paint and continue paint,'' he said.
For the 52-year-old artist, painting is a necessity. ``I know that the desire to paint is something within me part of my inner self, part of my subconscious. As time passed, this need to paint and draw transformed itself into something like a biological instinct, which has strengthened my relationship with the world around me,'' he said.
It was in Spain, when he started to appreciate his Sudanese heritage. He developed his own artistic style and philosophy, which he says deals with the ``relationship of space and time.''
``Art for me is knowledge; in the sense that I think an artist must first be an avid reader and conscious of his contributions to the world of art. Every stroke, every line, whatever may be in the artist's mind, whether or not apparent in his work, transferred or not from his mind to his art, is a part of life,'' Diab said.
Diab, who has held solo exhibitions in Norway, India, Bahrain, Libya, Jordan, Lebanon, U.S. and Spain, has made an effort to give something back to his home country. In 2006, he established the Rashid Diab Arts Center in Khartoum, with the aim of developing and promoting Sudanese visual arts.
Diab's exhibition opens April 20 with a ceremony at 5 p.m. It runs through April 25. Visit www.kfcenter.or.kr