Remember how your mom used to yell at you for writing on your hands? Well, for all you fellow body scribblers
out there, allow me to introduce you to the artistic movement geared specifically towards us: Body Painting.
Using the human body as a canvas is not an innovation. In fact, body painting is one of the most ancient forms of art. Here in the Middle East, we’ve been practicing it in the medium of henna (a dye that stains the skin) for centuries! And yet in its modern manifestation, body painting is definitely considered taboo in a country where the human form is veiled and censored from the public eye; that is why it was especially surprising to meet Nourah Moammar, Saudi make-up/body artist.
The first of her kind in the Kingdom, Nourah is shooting down the boundaries with her ammunition of fierce talent. Having participated in multiplehaute-couture fashion shows in Paris and Dubai, Nourah is somewhat a veteran to the eccentric and inventive forms of art. Yet she credits most of her inspiration to M.A.C. Cosmetics and their couture-style. “Ninety-nine percent of the make-up I use is M.A.C. I love the work their artists do.”
Forced to experiment a little with it as a student of cosmetology, body painting was never a real focus for Nourah until now. So what inspired her to play with the human body as an alternative canvas? “The body has a soul, it is a creation of God, and it is beautiful.”
Nourah works to accentuate the body rather than mask it behind layers of paint. Her work appears to reflect and emphasize the soul within and perhaps that is why she waits to meet her models before conceptualizing her design, “I never plan my designs, I wait to see what fits the model.”
Nourah’s ability to manipulate the curves and dimensions of the human body in order to create something ingenious and pure is truly pioneering.
“I feel there are no limitations with bodypainting; I am able to express a lot more.” Her style is organic, from her human canvas to the earth tones and the Baroque patterns that she favors. Her palette is unusually dark, but is occasionally brightened with Swarovski crystals a type of ornamentation that appears to be a reflection of her Saudi heritage and occupational history as a commercial make-up artist, “I had to accommodate the market in Saudi weddings, brides, etc.
” Yet instead of such restrictions impeding her desire to create, it just added more fervor to her artistic cause. “As an artist, I want to educate people about make-up. I want to show them that there is [an aesthetic]difference between the artistichaute-couture make-up and the makeup you apply everyday.” She feels tattoo often, women here watch Fashion TV and think that is how they’re supposed to look when they walk out of their houses. And its not. There is avenue for such things, and that is the runway.
In such a society where so many restrictions are imposed on a medium considered taboo by many, Nourah has overcome many obstacles to practice her passion; “I am still fighting for my art, it is an on-going struggle here, “but it doesn’t seem like she’s going to give up anytime soon, “I do it because I love it.”