Noura Al-Ramahi is a Lebanese-born Emirati artist, who mostly employs acrylic paint with a variety of media such as paste and wood, among other material, in her work. She has also worked with metal, in mixed media. The metal works are shot through with 9mm bullets, which she fires herself.
An abstract expressionist who mixes figurative images with surrealism, she is absolutely inspired by human stories. For her, a human life is something that is scaffolded by stories. “When I am asked why I paint figures, my spontaneous reply is ‘because I can tell a lot of stories about them’”, Al-Ramahi says.
Always portrayed faceless, often hunched, and in a never ending search for a way forward, her figures (whom she calls her heroes, due to the odds they endured and survived) symbolise the monumental and eternal journey of the human soul, on land and sea, through dreams, despair and hopes, and oft times, the agony of helplessness and surrender. A fearless experimenter, she is ever venturing into new realms of colourful expression and her subjects can - and do - inexplicably change from one day to the next.
She always paints to the sounds of music, mostly jazz. In her “Rhapsody” series, she even titles her creations after songs (she has a nostalgic yen for the songs of the 1970s and 80s).
A colourist to the core, her paintings are characterised by the use of intense colour, which becomes their dominant feature, more important than other qualities. Dancing fishes, wavy coral in their flamboyant and fecund marine setting, ravish everyone with their joie de vivre, especially exemplified in her “Chasing Corals” sequences.
“Rhapsody” combines two elements which are prominent in her work, namely, human figures and nature, specifically corals. “Rhapsody carries with it a nostalgic sentiment, a longing to go back to nature in its simplicity and beauty”, Al-Ramahi says. “This is also why I have infused the names of old songs as titles onto the pictures. These forgotten melodies remind us of times before the Internet and Social Media”.
One of the features of a major talent is its ability to disguise a message, more than it spells it out. Al-Ramahi displays this ability in ample measure in the way she endows a sub-text to her artwork, with hope emerging from tears and optimism from despair. Ingrained with beautiful visual vocabulary which is rich in colour, details and charm as well as with historical references, her works are therapeutic.