Artist illustrates Jordan’s everyday people, gifts them their own portraits

Top: A video grab from artist Ahmad Al-Rimawi’s videos, showing his drawing of a man, and a photo of that man. Bottom: Jordanian artist and architecture student Ahmad Al-Rimawi. (Photos: Handouts from
Top: A video grab from artist Ahmad Al-Rimawi’s videos, showing his drawing of a man, and a photo of that man. Bottom: Jordanian artist and architecture student Ahmad Al-Rimawi. (Photos: Handouts from Ahmad Al-Rimawi)
AMMAN — Unknowing pedestrians on Jordan’s busy streets might receive an unexpected free gift: a drawing from local artist Ahmad Al-Rimawi.

Rimawi is an architecture student at at the Jordan University of Science and Technology.اضافة اعلان

“I draw people in the streets and public markets as a hobby,” the architect and artist said in an interview with Jordan News.

Rimawi is drawn to the unique but mundane scenes he sees on the street. “I wander the streets, markets, and popular cafes to spot any distinctive faces and different poses, then stand away from the person I want to draw and photograph them,” he explained. Each of his drawings takes around fifteen to twenty minutes to complete.

“The drawings that I make are 100 percent free of charge,” he added. But there is a unique element to his gifts: he videotapes the recipients’ delighted reactions, alongside the drawing processing itself, and posts the videos online (with their permission).
The videos have brought the young artist over 160,000 followers on video-sharing platform TikTok.

“The reactions are positive when people see themselves in the drawings,” Rimawi added. “And they are happy with these drawings because they are different and unique. They take these drawings and send them to their children, grandchildren in Jordan and outside Jordan.”

“Even the drawings that I publish on social platforms remind Jordanians abroad of their homeland,” he added.

“One of the reactions that affected me the most was when I gave an old man his drawing and told him about my work,” he recalled. “He was so moved that he cried and brought his children to see the drawing. He told me that young people are an essential pillar and their energy contributes to building the country and leading it towards prosperity.”

The artist’s creative passion started at a young age. “I discovered that I have a talent when I was 8 years old in a drawing class, when the teacher asked for a [drawing],” he recalled.

“I chose to do something different and draw [HRH] Crown Prince [Hussein] and the drawing was identical. The students and the teacher were surprised with the drawing, my skill in holding the pen, and the great resemblance of the picture to the drawing. The teacher encouraged my family to help me develop this talent so that it could be used in the future.” 

“My family and friends encouraged me to cultivate this talent and to put my drawings on social media platforms so people can see them,” he said.

Drawing and painting are side hobbies for Rimawi, alongside his study of architecture. But he does sell some of his works and display them in exhibitions.

“My ambition is to work in exhibitions in various countries of the region and the world, and draw all people from different cultures,” he said.

Despite the enthused reactions from his subjects, Rimawi has found limited support for artists in Jordan.

“We artists suffer from lack of support from the official authorities,” he said, although art can “reflect the identity and heritage of countries and their people.” Despite art’s potential, due to lack of institutional support, “the artists here rely mainly on their efforts to convey their message and display their paintings on social media platforms.”

The student argued that if artists received support, they could craft pieces that “reflect the image of Jordan in the best way possible.”

But, “unfortunately, the concerned authorities do not provide what the artists hope for, and this negatively affects the level of visual art in Jordan and (encourages) the migration of artists abroad.”

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