Wijdan Al Jahwari – The Saffron Artist

By Hana Mazhar

Art is beauty, it speaks to all; but with different nuances and that’s where the beauty lies. A single piece with uncountable meanings.

It is an expression of a human being’s creative mind, their feelings, imagination and personal emotions. Every artist, every commoner finds rejoice in different art forms; what might be pleasing to one soul, might be unidentified by another.

My interview with one such artist, Wijdan Al Jahwari, who is a Yemeni by birth and is currently residing in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was exhilarating.

‘”Art has always been around me, I see art in everything,” 

Those were her first words as I started to break the ice.

She described how art makes her feel content, that “art is life”. She found art as an expression of herself – bold and fearless.

How she started painting

Wijdan started painting ever since she was in elementary school and would get so indulged in the craft that she would be asked to leave the classroom as she would paint during lectures. Now she would look back at those times and chuckles.

It’s amazing how people can focus on one thing for the rest of their lives because of the amount of love they carry for their work. Art is not only Wijdan’s passion but her career. What would be better than being able to merge your passion with your career? She does not have to wait for the weekend to release her stress from work solely because it’s her passion.

Wijdan started painting with all kinds of mainstream paints such as watercolors, oil paints and acrylic. Later, she developed an odd yet a unique and sophisticated approach towards her painting style.

For two years, she painted four portraits using Saffron but did not exhibit it anywhere on social media. However, she displayed her work at Behance, Riyadh, which is a creative showcasing event, that allows people to gather and exhibit their creativity.

She presented her art along with saffron on the side, which emitted a strong scent. Then, people gathered and were left baffled by her idea to use saffron as a paint base.

She mentioned that until today, to her surprise, there is no other artist who uses Saffron to paint. “I am the only one!” She said, clapping in excitement.

Until her experimentation, Saffron was just a culinary ingredient. Now it became the highlight of her work ever since.

Hence, Wijdan managed to gain popularity among the Arab society because of her divergent and sole technique.

She now takes pleasure in painting cups, mugs, Starbuck’s paper cups, and much more, and displays it all on her social media. Most desirably on her Instagram account, which gives her a platform to display her exceptional scheme.

“As an artist, you must paint what you want to, as before it is for anyone else, it is for your own self,” she highlighted.

At first, people did not appreciate her talent for painting faces on canvases and was told to leave her art aside as it was not likely for many Muslims to view painting “faces” as a form of art.

Spirit Aroused

Instead of leaving her art behind, her spirit aroused and it gave her the motivation to challenge people around her until her art was left uninterrupted.

In her young age, Wijdan’s mother did not admire her “face” paintings as well, but that did not stop her and today, her mother is her biggest support. She managed to change her mother’s view through her work, which is very inspiring.

Even though at first, her own people were reluctant towards her art, later as her followers on social media increased, she received a lot of support from her people. Today Wijdan has about 10.3K followers on her Instagram account, @kiwiag.

Wijdan loves challenges and likes the feeling of excitement that comes with it. She is very outspoken and does not like to be told what to do.

“If I am doing something wrong, I would know, and I would stop. But when I know it’s nothing wrong and I’m told otherwise, then I keep doing what I want,” she stressed.

She inspires people and tells them that they should do what they want to make themselves happy. She disregards negative comments directed towards her or her paintings and uses them as a stepping-stone to shine brighter.

Art is definitely a way to calm your own self first, because if it is made to please others it would not be as pleasing to the artist’s own mind, an it would lose its meaning. Art should be a way to escape into a world of imagination – it should be for yourself before it is for anyone else. ***



Hana Mazhar

Self Taught Artist, I write my heart :)

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