2 September 2018

Sudan: Artist Jamaan's Aesthetic Intellectual Black and White World

Painter, Professor, Hussein Jamaan (born in the eastern city of Kassala in 1942) has contributed lofty and distinct innovations to the Sudanese painting. Besides, he is a poet and story writer. He had launched over 60 expos around the world since 1966. He has collected several international awards, including the Kuwaiti Golden Sail Award and the grand prize of the Japanese Noma Concours (prize) for Picture Book Illustrations in 1998.

Jamaan obtained his M.A from the British Royal College of Art and his PhD from the Sudanese University of Juba. He was also awarded the Sudanese Order of Merit. At the moment he is Dean Faculty of Fine Arts and Design, Almustaqbal (Future) University in Khartoum.

What distinguishes Prof. Jamaan's art is his attention to the details of the Sudanese environment. His works are a marrying of heritage and contemporary life. In most of his paintings he is inspired by the ancient Nubian civilization, the heritage of Kush Kingdom in particular.

Says Critic and Playwright, Dr. Yousif Aidabi "A looker at Jamaan's paintings would delve into a secret world, a captivating world. Jamaan's artistic world is a world that foretells life, grows up from incidents of gloom, memories, lunar tales and imaginary worlds that go into far depths where the onlooker can perceive what the eye cannot reach, but it catches sight and blinks into consciousness. Hussein Jamaan strives to translate his thoughts through painting, coloration and lines.

Painter, Professor. Ahmed Mohammad Shibrain has described Jamaan as "one of the rare artists who build aesthetic thought through the particulars of things and paintings. Jamaan interacts and connects to other modes of expression in literature and poetry. In the rhythm of his colors and lines we feel the pulse of literature and poetry.

Professor Jamaan tells Sudanow that "It is not important to be a painter ... Not at all!. But when you enter this domain, it is extremely important to try to advance art. That is because art is an inlet into all domains. When one contemplates the different tributaries of the culture of Sudanese, he would find that it is a reflection of their arts, both verbal and visual. The world is not what that exists and that we see. It is the world of wisdom, the world around me. I like to look at the tiny details of the civilizations of ancient Sudan, be it the work of amateurs or the innocent work of children. When I finish a work of art, I seek the judgment of an ordinary person, more than that of an art specialist. If the former likes it, I can bet that it has achieved its goal. A fair judgment can never come but from these simple people walking in the streets. As a matter of fact, these people represent the wisdom of this nation."

Adds Prof. Jamaan "there are three elements that contribute to the portrait: The mind, the heart and the hand. That is because it is the hand that has built civilizations. That is what keeps me working. I like to listen... to listen too much. The portrait comes from long distances we cannot fathom. The raw material has a big role in the portrait's buildup. That is because the portrait tells you its dreams if it feels you love it. Love is important in the dialogue with the portrait. The portrait is not just a piece of cloth. It is a ritual, a feeling. It whispers to you in flowing kindness and leads you into a great work of art."

International Painter Ibrahim Alsalahi feels what brings him together with Jamaan is the way they both form their portraits, the basics of their portraits and their branches, the concentration on the black color as a dramatic element that contributes to the creation of a sphere of visual expression through monochrome (drawing with one color) and the technical treatment of the portrait between the white-black contrasts and the grey gradations in between which are attained according to the gradual light, the embroideries and the calligraphy, regardless of the disparity between us (me and Jamaan) in approach with respect to technicality and content."

Painter Mohammad Utaibi said Jamaan holds the three characteristics of being a teacher, a painter and a poet.

"After I finished my preliminary year at the College of Fine Arts in 1968, I moved to the graphics section. The lecturer in charge then was a handsome and energetic young man who was ready to extend a helping hand to whoever asked for it. We learned from him the basics of the specialization. He used to supply us with the necessary substances from the college store: state of the art British - made colors, inks and paper. He was a teacher full of love for his profession, from whom we learned quite a lot and who still works and teaches as Dean Faculty of Fine Arts at the Almustaqbal University."

Artist Jamaan is known locally, regionally and internationally as a painter having his own style and touch in the Sudanese visual art history.

Jamaan is known to have worked with Professor Shibrain and others to produce the graphic portrait (if one can call it so), that combines imaging and graphics. He has mastered dealing with black and white paint and with different raw materials.

He had earlier established (with others) the White and Black Group that deals with no colors other than black and white. The group has been launching its annual exhibition for the last eight years.

But his full-color portraits are no less than his black and white pictures in terms of beauty and grandeur.

Jamaan's portraits are humane in nature, depicting the human being and his surrounding environment: flora, fauna and architecture. He sometimes leans towards arabesque (drawings borrowing from oriental architecture and Arabic calligraphy).

His figures are beautiful and agile, surrounded with a world of dreams and surreal atmosphere. That could be attributed to his poetic nature. No wonder, the man is an established poet, writing blank verse full of exotic atmospheres. He paints poetry and writes portraits! These traits had lent him the friendship of Poet Mohammad Almahdi Almajzoub, known for verse rich in imagery, and who was also a great lover of painting. His friendship also extended to Poet Mohammad Abdelhai. Jamaan had designed many covers of Abdelhai's poetry collections. He had painted many pictures of Abdelhai's verses contained in those collections. As a poet Jamaan had composed a very touching poem about his late wife, Artist Khalda Almahdi, in which he expressed deep sorrow and anguish for her departure.

Jamaan had designed a lot of books and produced them in a superb manner.

Novelist Eisa Alhilu considers Jamaan "an unusual artist who sees the world through a different perspective."

Adds Alhilu: Jamaan contemplates the tiny crawling creatures and ponders the ornaments and embroideries on their backs and bodies, thinks about this strange world and tries to put this on the face of his pictures. In that Jamaan is keen about producing a new picture that unveils a hidden universe unnoticed by a passing look. This world requires a careful look to see how harmonious this universe is, a world where birds flicker their wings in the silver blue space and where green tree leaves dance and envelope the brown branches. Jamaan reminds me of the late Poet Altijani Yousif Bashir and his vision about the unity of the universe. Here rests the novelty and originality of Jamaan. And all this excellence is supported by a deep academic study where a part beside a part make the unity of universes Jamaan talks about. For me such a type of artist has not yet been discovered. He has come before their time."

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