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Art, a gift from God
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 05 - 06 - 2008

Ola Hejazi, a Saudi woman artist that stands witness to the claim that names define people, since her first name is Ola ‘Arabic for glory and renown'.
Her paintings reflect her true self and her search for new materials is never ending. To her, painting is not a way of amplifying emotions and reflecting them on paper. To her, painting is life itself.
Q: When did you first realize that you were destined to be an artist?
A: It wasn't easy, it took me a long time to become an artist and create my own style. As a beginner, I tried to visit as much art galleries as I can. I learned that art is more than splashing colors on a painting; it's actually a way of reflecting one's deepest emotions and character.
Q: What inspires you to paint?
A: Art to me is a divine gift that touches my inner soul and inspires me to live. It's how I see the world through a whole new prospective. It was painting that inspired me to live, and not the other way around.
Q: Can art exhibitions serve as a link between nations?
A: I participated in many art exhibitions in Arab and Western countries, and even though artists in those events represented their nations and came from different backgrounds, we all had one thing in common; colors. They are the words of the only language we speak, art.
Q: How did it feel to be the only female Saudi artist representing the Kingdom in the ‘Open your Eyes' art exhibit in Qatar?
A: I definitely felt the huge weight of that responsibility on my shoulders; I had to reflect a bright image of Saudi women artists.
Still, this only inspired me to work harder and come up with newer ideas.
Q: How do artists react to their surroundings?
A: Every new experience we go through, takes part in the shaping of our characters, it changes the way we see things and the way we express our emotions.
For example, my use of Arabic calligraphy in my paintings is a result of being who I am, but the way I present these letters in, is a different and modern one, due to the environment I live in.
Q: Hiring business managers is becoming a popular trend among artists, what do you think of that?
A: Certainly, I'm all for having a business manager, but only through specialized and professional companies. It's for the good of artists.
Q: What role do colors play in the life of Ola Hejazi?
A: Without colors, there wouldn't be beauty. Without colors I wouldn't be able to express and life wouldn't be the same. In short, without colors there wouldn't be feelings or emotions.
Q: How long would it take for you to stop working on a painting if you were facing a dead end?
A: Painting is what I do, it's who I am. No one would ever abandon their identity, so I don't think I can ever abandon any painting.
Q: Were you influenced by any other artists?
A: I've been to many art galleries in London, Paris, LA, Rome and lots of other places.
I was fascinated by Louise Bourgeois's installations and Freda Kahlo's paintings. I also admire the works of Sarah Lucas, and Tracy Emin. These artists have strong beliefs; it's my ambition to excel in my work as much as they did.
Q: What can you tell us about your latest works?
A: I am focusing on Arabic calligraphy, but in a more modern approach in order to embody my own identity and characterize the modern times that we live in. I used Mahmoud Darwish's poetry in my paintings to express my love for poetry and art in one painting.
Q: How do you see the progress of fine arts in the Kingdom?
A: We have talented artists that were able to display the Kingdom's traditions in their works.
But in my opinion, we lack those who are experienced enough to take Saudi fine arts to a new and international level.
Q: Do you use any substances or materials other than colors in your paintings?
A: It's important for artists to be able to utilize different materials in their work. I try to use printing ink in my paintings; it adds depth to my works.
Q: What do you do beside being an artist?
A: I'm a trainer at a training center that was opened by the Ministry of Education and I also teach arts to children at my personal studio.
Q: Do you have any advice for beginners?
A: Paint your emotions straight from the heart and never try to compare yourself with others. Each artist is a different individual, and what makes their art special is that difference. __


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