Artist displays Petra-inspired paintings in Washington, DC


It was on a brief trip to Jordan that Marité Vidales found a muse in the Nabatean city of Petra

Costa Rican artist Marité Vidales on Monday at the opening of her exhibition showcased at the Jordanian embassy in Washington, DC (Photo by  Natasha Twal Tynes)

By Natasha Twal Tynes

WASHINGTON, DC — For Costa Rican artist Marité Vidales, a brief trip to Jordan in the summer of 2005 served as more than just mere tourism. It was in this trip where she found a muse in the Nabatean city of Petra.

Her fascination with Petra started from the first time she laid eyes on it. “I have to paint something about this,” Vidales told her husband as soon as they got there. Immediately, the artist and her spouse started taking various pictures of the red-rose city to document everything they saw.

“As I walked in the siq, everywhere I looked I began imagining paintings, in the niches, on the stained rocks and the textured and wind-worn columns,” Vidales explained.

“I imagined the colours slowly changing throughout time. As soon as I returned from Jordan, I began to paint these images, based on my photographs and memories.  I wanted to reproduce and perpetuate the experience,” she added.

Now over a year to her memorable trip, Vidales has completed 20 paintings depicting her fascination with this city. The drawings are currently being showcased at the Jordanian embassy in Washington, DC, in an exhibition, which opened here on Monday. Titled “Petra: Colours of Time”, the exhibition which is co-hosted by the Costa Rican embassy will run through November 30.

All of the paintings on display are acrylic on canvas. The first thing that the visitor to this exhibition notices is the dominance of red.  Even the titles of some of Vidales’ paintings have red in them. “The red city” and “Red Petra” are two examples. “When I saw the rocks, I saw real red colour,” Vidales told The Jordan Times.

The artist’s work conveys various emotions. One painting titled “Heat” is a depiction of the hot temperature of the day that Vidales visited the city. Another titled “Ascending” portrays the spiritual ascending to heaven as believed by the Nabateans, explained Vidales. The artist’s technique is subtle in most of her paintings. She used sand to create textures in some paintings and used modelling paste for the same purpose in others. Some of her paintings portray vibrant panoramas, while others focus on the details of the red-rose city.

“The work is very remarkable,” said Baltimore-based artist Daniel Stuelpnagel describing the exhibition. “She has a wonderful capacity to transcend the material. It is abstract and mysterious.” Pointing to one painting titled “Niche”, Stuelpnagel said, “I like this piece. I can feel the wind blowing.”

However, one DC-based artist who referred to himself as Asali said that the dominance of red did not work for him all the time. “Sometimes the red went along with the subject matter, but in other instances it dominated it and stood out,” Asali said.

Vidales was born in San José, Costa Rica, in 1963. She received her degree from the School of Fine Arts of the University of Costa Rica.  For over 20 years, Vidales has exhibited her works throughout the United States, Costa Rica and Germany.

“It is an eye-opener to see how people around the world view Petra in different artistic angles and perspectives,” Jordan’s Ambassador to the United States Karim Kawar told The Jordan Times, adding that “Petra has many friends here in the United States and the rest of the world.”

It is not the first time that Petra serves as a muse for artists. Dutch artist Gerti Bierenbroodspot has dedicated some of her works to Petra so did the late Jordanian artist Ali Jabri.

The event comes at a time when Petra is competing for a spot in the “New Seven Wonders of the World” competition along with 20 other heritage sites. The competition, organised by the Swiss-based non-profit New 7 Wonders Foundation, is the first international voting campaign seeking to highlight leading cultural and historical treasures deemed worthy of global recognition.

Visitors to Vidales’ exhibition were notified of the competition through flyers that were available at the venue. The flyers encouraged voting for Petra.

The exhibition is part of the Jordanian embassy’s cultural series where a cultural event is hosted at the embassy each month. “The aim mostly is to make the public aware of Jordan culturally and not only politically,” the embassy’s press attaché, Samia Kabariti, told The Jordan Times.


Thursday, November 16, 2006


Previous Headline

Return to Jordan Times Today's Home Page