A set of 35 beautiful and mysterious paintings by Nouf Al-Semari, who describes herself as an abstract, figurative artist, has drawn the attention of a number of art lovers in Alkhobar and Dammam. The paintings, which form part of Al-Semari’s solo exhibition titled “The Other Rooms,” are currently on display and sale at Alkhobar’s Acoustic Tea Lounge and Gallery. A Saudi national, Nouf grew up in the Eastern Province. She went to a local school in Alkhobar and graduated in business and marketing from King Faisal University (now renamed University of Dammam). She says her family has always been very supportive of her. “I never faced any difficulty from them…they supported me in every way,” she told Arab News on the sidelines of the exhibition. Her husband, Fahad Al-Dossary, is the biggest admirer of her paintings. He admitted that at first he did not understand the intricacies of Nouf’s art, but later he began to admire the beauty in them. “Every painting has a history behind it,” he told Arab News. Nouf says her husband also happens to be her best judge. “He never criticizes my work but I love to hear his views on my paintings. So he is the first one to take a look at my creations…and he always gives me a very good perspective.” This is Nouf’s first solo exhibition. However, she has taken part in various international exhibitions organized by Al-Baylasan Society for Fine Arts. She says she took to painting in a serious way three years ago. “I had done sketches in the past. Then I took to writing…but I did not find myself in writing, somehow I felt writing did not express my true feelings about life and my surroundings. I felt like I was being boxed in by words. Then I came back to art and painting…pen gave way to brush…I felt I could express my feelings freely through the free-flowing strokes of a brush,” she said. “The results were these paintings that are on display here at Acoustic.” All her paintings were done at Nouf’s home studio in Dammam. She says there is always a new idea behind every painting. “There is an element of mystery in each of my paintings. Whoever sees my paintings will see himself or herself in them…I reflect everything that I have seen in my paintings. You will se a slice of music, movies, dreams, novels, poetry…they are all there on my canvas,” she said. Nouf says she never went to any established school. “I am a self-taught artist…I subjected myself to rigorous practice. I started playing with colors on my own and began giving creative shape to my ideas and dreams…that is how it all started,” she said. Who are her role models? “So many,” she said. “Gustav Klimt, Francis Bacon, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Salvador Dali, Caravaggio and Pablo Picasso. They are all extraordinary.” According to Nouf, Saudi art has a bright future. “Our artists are being recognized internationally. Ahmed Mater is now recognized as one of the most influential of Saudi artists today. Abdulnasser Gharem is another leading artist…so, yes, recognition is coming our way,” she said confidently. The exhibition at Acoustic Alkhobar is open to all and runs until Dec. 31 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and 4 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.