Arab cartoonists meet in Jordan, event commended by participants, public

Arab cartoonists
The cartoonists’ drawings reflect the reality of their communities. (Photos: Roaa Rayyan/Jordan News)
The Jordanian Cartoonists Association organized its first forum, aiming at encouraging cartoon drawing and Arab cultural exchange.اضافة اعلان

Minister of Culture Haifa Al-Najjar inaugurated the forum on June 27 at Ras Al-Ain Gallery where some 60 cartoonists from 12 Arab countries exhibited their drawings, according to Naser Jafari, head of the association.

“The huge number of visitors was beyond all expectations,” Jafari told Jordan News, adding that people need to speak and visualize the language of caricature.

“It is an ancient art that started at the beginning of creation, by stone-carving, until it reached the social media these days,” he pointed out.  

“Caricature can be understood by different age groups, by all segments of society, and by speakers of all languages,” Jafari said, indicating that this art is special for being direct, providing common insights, and addresses social and political issues.

Bashir Mraish, association public relations manager, described the forum as “one of a kind”; he expressed satisfaction with the participation of so many cartoonists from different countries, and lauded the cooperation of Greater Amman Municipality (GAM) in organizing the event.

“This forum is considered the cornerstone for upcoming annual cooperation with Arab countries in this field,” Mraish said.

The next forum will be held in Kuwait, he said, also hoping that it would reach an international level in the future.

The cartoonists’ drawings reflect the reality of their communities; also on display were original paintings that belong to well-known cartoonists, according to Mraish who said that the “Jordanian cartoonists’ works were very special”, as visitors to the forum commented.

While expressing pride in this achievement, he also commended “the exceptional attendance and works of artists from other countries”.

Cartoonists wishing to join the association need to provide some previous works and prove active participation, after which a committee decides whether to approve the membership request, said Mraish, who added that “continuous painting is mandatory for the membership to stay valid”.

Mays Alomar, a Jordanian caricaturist who participated in the show with three paintings, told Jordan News that she enjoyed the experience and “getting to know cartoonists from different countries, such as Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt”.

Doing caricatures “is a lifestyle to me”, she said, apart from being a source of income. The three paintings she displayed at the gallery reflected “Laila and the Wolf”, depicting the wolf as a harasser and the little girl as a victim. The inspiration came from a book called “Hikayet Laila”.

Yara Ramadan, a visitor, told Jordan News: “I am highly satisfied with the quality of the works at the gallery and the experience. I enjoyed seeing the meaning behind each painting. I used to think of this art as being simply linked to trend, but today I realized that it reflects the root of an issue that is described in the painting, its past, present, and future.”

Mohammad Al-Qahtani, head of the International Affairs and Media at Kuwait Cartoon Society, said: “I am very happy with the forum and congratulate the Jordanian Cartoonists Association for this success, which was beyond all expectations.”

“Representing Kuwait, the Kuwait Cartoon Society’s participation was to prove that this art appeals to us all,” Qahtani said, describing a cartoonist as a “superhero”.

He added that a huge upcoming step is underway to prove the importance of the caricature art in cooperation with many countries.

Samir Abdelghany, an Egyptian cartoonist, said that “amid the caricature crisis Jordan is going through, it was very nice to see such a forum held here, bringing together the works of people from different countries”.

He said that “Jordan has many important and widely known cartoonists, such as Omar Al-Abdullat, Amjad Rasmy, and Mahmoud Al-Rifai, among others”.

Abdelghany said he enjoyed his stay in Jordan, where he “felt at home”,  was happy with the great turnout on the event, and that the forum created “an emotional bond among all cartoonists”.

Abdelghany brought from Egypt the original works of Egyptian famous artists, including those of Mohammad Hakim, Ehab Shaker, Maher Daniel, and Jalal Juma.

He said he was elected to represent Egypt at the event because he has “broad connections around the world”, plus he wanted to participate.

One of his works showed a computer pulling a man’s head toward it; “it expresses the way computers brainwash people if not used properly,” he said.

Aiman Alghamdi, Saudi cartoonist working for Al Youm newspaper, commended the effort exerted to make the forum a success and the cooperation of the Jordan Tourism Board, GAM, and Ras Al-Ain Gallery.

“Caricature art was made for people, love, and appreciation,” Alghamdi said, adding that a cartoonist’s goal is to “criticize to correct” not “criticize to undermine”.

Alghamdi said that working in this field on daily basis pushes an artist to achieve more.

“If I were to favor some of my paintings, I would prefer those that reached the society and the decision-makers” and led to correcting “the mistakes that were criticized through them,” he said.

Public Relation Manager at Kuwait Cartoon Society Mona Al-Tamimi praised the exhibition as “beyond amazing”, adding that “since there has been a lack in newspapers recently, this art was almost forgotten”.

Tamimi’s works focused mainly on social issues, particularly the “interference of social media in our lives”, she said.

She said she wished there were more Jordanian female cartoonists, having noticed that they are very few compared to the number of men artists.

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