Overcoming language barriers and communication difficulties through the power of art and painting – that is what artists at the third edition of Ayla International Art Symposium were most pleased about during their participation at the 10-day annual event.

This November, Ayla Oasis hosted its International Art Symposium  featuring the biggest number of artist participation to date that saw the participation of 22 local, regional and international prominent artists.

Shots from Ayla International Art Symposium 2018

Participating artists included Flavia Codsi, Safwan Dahoul, Zhivago Duncan, Luke Hart, Vanessa Lodigiani, Eva Andujar, Lee Young Hee, Jamal Abdulrahim, Salman Al Malek, Thaeir Helal, Kristina Malovic, Mohammad Jaloos, Asmaa El Nawawy, Constantin Migliorini, Alessandra Carloni, Hassan Haddad, Zhang Chun, Fatima Killeen, Fadi Haddadin, Danielle Lauzond, Hakim Al Akel and Hala Ezzeddine.

The symposium, which took place at the new waterfront resort Ayla Oasis in the city of Aqaba, invited artists from 17 different countries including Lebanon, Syria, Germany, England, Mexico, Spain, Korea, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Serbia, Italy, Morocco, Iraq, China, France and finally Jordan.

Shots from Ayla International Art Symposium 2018

According to curator of the symposium Jordanian artist Mohammad Jaloos, the activity builds a bridge between different cultures and brings borders closer together. He said: “The event helps build friendships as well as enrich the artists with each other’s expertise, style and techniques.”

Within the group of participating artists was one of the foremost painters in the Arab world, Syrian artist Safwan Dahoul who is currently based in Dubai. To him, the most important aspect of the symposium was the friendships built.

Artist Safwan Dahoul at work at the Ayla International Art Symposium 2018
It was wonderful getting the chance for all of us to meet each other – even though we knew each other by name for a long time, we never met in real-life.
We are in an individualistic era – unlike the 70’s and 80’s, where you used to have art cafes and shared art ateliers where artists used to meet and collaborate often, nowadays, we are all working from our solo studios and going through the creative process separately.
An activity like this gives the opportunity to create memories and work with other artists in a collaborative and homogeneous setting. – artist Safwan Dahoul

The symposium included workshops and seminars, which gave the artists the freedom to create their works in a collaborative setting, as well as artist presentations where each artist shared their unique experience as a creator.

The artists visited the rose city of Petra, where they got to experience the grandeur of its magnificent man-made architecture, followed by Aqaba where they participated in various  activities.

Artist Asmaa El Nawawy (right) at work at the Ayla International Art Symposium 2018

Artist Asmaa El Nawawy from Egypt, who holds a Master’s Degree and PhD in Art History and is currently a Lecturer at Helwan University in Cairo, thinks of the symposium as an opportunity for both rising and established artists. She said: “As artists, we have to keep learning new things along our artistic journey. In symposiums like these, we enter into the artist’s kitchen that symbolizes his private studio and get to see the artwork in the process of getting cooked.”

El Nawawy, who usually works with motifs and symbols, incorporates messages in her work through the physique and movements of her figures. This is her way of presenting the viewer with a unique form of visual communication.

I think linguistic communication among people can sometimes become difficult, so if we revert back to visual communication it makes it easier and removes any misunderstanding, this is where the ultimate power of art lies. -El Nawawy
Shots from Ayla International Art Symposium 2018

The annual symposium that began in 2016 also invites students from private and public schools in Aqaba to attend workshops with the participating artists, engage with them and learn about their artistic careers.

Da’ad Faouri from the Directorate of Education in Aqaba, told artmejo that inviting the students to partake in such dialogue allows them to widen their horizons and encourage them to develop their creative talents.

Shots from Ayla International Art Symposium 2018
Meeting the artists always drives the students’ ambitions and inspire them to one day become on the same level as they are. The students got to see the artists work at the symposium, and learned new approaches and methods of implementation. – Director of Education, Da’ad Faouri

“For example,” Faouri added, “it was the first time they see works with mixed media such as wood shrapnel and candle wax. It was very interesting  for them to adopt new modes of creativity and to understand that they can explore with and use different mediums.”

Shots from Ayla International Art Symposium 2018

Moreover, organizer Jaloos introduced a new concept to the symposium this year, inviting four young amateur artists from Aqaba to produce work alongside these international artists and engage in a conversation with them.

It is a great opportunity for the young artists to tap into the expertise of this group of renowned artists, to learn from them and work with them side by side. – organiser/artist Mohammad Jaloos
Artist Fadi Haddadin at work at the Ayla International Art Symposium 2018

One of the young local artists, Wafa’ Sabbah, spoke to artmejo about her participation at the symposium. She said: “The artists were very helpful, they gave us comments and answered our questions and provided us with tips and tricks that I will for sure implement in my work in the future.”

I mostly create landscape paintings, but what I learned from this exhibition is the importance of variety and not sticking to one style, so I would like to start experimenting more. – artist, Wafa’ Sabbah
Shots from Ayla International Art Symposium 2018

The artists’ fruit of labour during their days of participation was showcased at a closing ceremony and exhibition open to the public that took place at Mövenpick Aqaba City Center Hotel.

One of the attendees, Hadeel Al Amaireh told artmejo: “It is not often that we see this many artworks by such a big group of artists who each have their own unique style and aesthetic.”

The exhibition featured 35 mixed media and acrylic on canvas artworks and provided art appreciators with a chance to enjoy diverse schools of art from all over the world.

Image courtesy of Ayla Oasis.