Pioneers of Omani Contemporary Art: Anwar Sonya The Establishment Phase

Posted on 27th March 2017
Pioneers of Omani Contemporary Art: Anwar Sonya The Establishment Phase

By: Dr. Marwan Imran

Edited By: Karina De Jesus Murphy


Anwar Sonya as one of the founding pioneers of contemporary Omani art since the 1980s and one of the first members of the Youth Center, inspired Omani heritage in his works. His experience in painting was characterized as a mix of artistic school, Impressionism, Pointillism, and Expressionism styles ([1]).  His artworks are inspired by the image of Omani Bedouin women, projecting the image of beauty. He focuses on heritage as a spiritual theme, embracing the concept of authenticity through it as he looks for a reality of the event and sights to simulate the concept of heritage in a contemporary vision. He also sets the heritage of Oman at the forefront of his goals and concepts to emphasize on the country’s rich history, for he believes that the past is important in building identity and shaping the future.

His first experience in painting was in the 1970s. The iconic realism style in his art was inspired by the Omani landscape and some of the scenes of popular daily life in Oman. Sonya’s experiments were recorded from 1972 to 1975 during his membership at the Fine Association Artists in Bahrain. His first experience in painting was influenced by Ishaq Kohji and Al-Mahrouki, whom he learned some of his technical methods from.

Anwar Sonya has won many awards in the Sultanate of Oman, including His Majesty’s 1993 Award in the Civic Service and the award of Best Artist in United Arab of Emirates for his international participation. At present, his artistic experience and painting style still show common themes and concepts—simulation and inspiration of the Omani heritage.  He creates exciting views in his works by the use of bright colors.

His painting style has been classified in two methods which appears through his stylistic structure and colors techniques in a highly selective academic way.

Sonya uses impressionist dotting techniques in color distribution and is entirely dependent on the color compatibility values of the same method, and he relays these colored lines as outlines of shapes and figures by showing movements in the bodies of his subjects.

Sonya was able to establish an individual technique in the construction of his painting style. His works became famous through his technique in clear and constructive ways. Most Omani young Artists are influenced by his style and method of color creativity, which makes him the leading pioneer artist in contemporary art in the Sultanate of Oman.

[1] – ) Marwan Imran. Anwar Sonya: Individual experience (influences from the past on Contemporary art). Bait Al-Zubair foundation .Oman: Muscat publishing house, 2017.