The programme is under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, Wife of the King of Bahrain.
Where does an artist live? A seemingly innocuous question triggered off a whole gamut of thoughts — does an artist live in a physical space alone? Is that space permanent and static? Does that space travel in the mind? It is said that landscapes have a profound impact on the work of artists who interact with them on a level of creative intensity. I take the contention a bit further. I feel that for artists, landscapes are not mere visual manifestations of a geographical mass but spaces for the creative impulse to blossom more by way of mindscapes that change, remain, expand in the mind.
It is from this creative space that artists speak loud and clear in voices that are not tentative, but very audible — metaphorically speaking. In this context what is left unsaid too is of a great deal of import for it engulfs within its space, the sub- text of their creative context. These were the thoughts uppermost in my mind as I was curating a show for Art Bahrain Across Borders, (ArtBab), the Kingdom of Bahrain’s premier contemporary art fair and curated artists programme. The programme is under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, Wife of the King of Bahrain.
The exhibition, The Unsaid, is set to debut in India and will be held in New Delhi and Mumbai. Under this art initiative, a collection of over 54 artworks from 18 Bahraini artists selected under ArtBab umbrella will be going on display for the first time in India. ArtBab is organising these artist programmes in India in association with the Rouble Nagi Art Foundation. The exhibition will open in New Delhi at Bikaner House on October 9 till 11 and the Mumbai edition will be on from November 30 till December 2.
ArtBab’s artist programme was launched at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London last year. Speaking about the India initiative, Shaikha Maram Bint Isa Al Khalifa, director of the office of Her Royal Highness said, “We are proud to bring ArtBab to India which has a rich history of art and is known for some of the great artists. India has immense potential not only as a market but also as a nurturer of talent in the international art scene. We are confident that our association with India will go a long way in promoting Bahraini artists and also fostering a connect between creative enthusiasts from both countries.”
Kaneka Subberwal, programme director of ArtBab, said: “ArtBab not only provides a platform for Bahraini artists to showcase their work globally, it also acts as an umbrella for the creation of a common space for galleries and artists across the globe to connect with collectors and art aficionados. We are presenting a few exceptional artists as part of the first exhibition in India and are extremely excited to share their extraordinary work which reflects the Bahrain’s script, culture, people and landscapes in various forms.”
The exhibition explores the artistic and creative dimensions of the artists’ mind which is their creative mainstay. Artists Balqees Fakhro’s abstracts in sand hues, Karina Al Zu’bi lyrical and sensitive portrayals illustrate ideas and highlight the artists’ refined thoughts. The outcome of binding of craftsmanship and reflective thought is what transforms canvases into an act of veneration and deep spiritual connections. Mariam Al Fakhro and Omar Al Rashed’s works, bereft of unnecessary embellishment are stunning in their sparse beauty.
A search for the unique and the unparalleled, certain creative expressions open an entirely new world for the viewers and goads the artists to adopt modernist painterly techniques. It realises the experiential singularities as is evident in the work of Jamal Abdulrahim and Hameed Al-Bosta’svery fascinating and masculine works.
Landscapes resonate in Somaya Abdulghani’s paintings. The spiritual element is an important component and an intrinsic part of Seema Baqi’s very lyrical works too. Ayman Jaafar’s calligraphic explorations mirror the concept of reality and reverberate with the oneness of matter and spirit. Taiba Faraj’s interpreting scripts has taken her to many an aesthetic journey of lines and languages. Lulwa Al Khalifa’s art gets elevated thanks to the creator’s sincerity of intent to create work that stands the test of time and space.
Mariam Al Fakhro’s strong works too are very noticeable and beckon the onlooker to take another look to delve deep into them. Just as Maryam Nass’ sculptures of a woman who carries her burdens on her own body by way of pockets in her attire, are poignant in their frozen details. Nabeela Al Khayer’s works are reflective of her free spirited stance. She is driven by a fierce passion to empower women, yet is inspired by their often tumultuous and secret world.
Zakeya Zada’s expressive portraits, brought to life through her vibrant use of colour and shape, speak volumes of the life heartaches, struggles and joys that all women, regardless of their culture or socio-economic status, share. On the other hand Faika Al Hasan and Mohamed Taha render tens, if not hundreds or even thousands of faceless figures, roaming around in absolute anonymity.
For artist Karina Al Zu’bi, the beauty of her natural surroundings influenced her work. She needed to travel the world to explore cultures and through colours, human innovation and civilisation. Mayasa Al Sowaidi is a self-taught artist and her landscapes seem cloistered together — almost suffocating in their closeness yet replete with inherent strength.
Art is an essential part of the life of all these 18 very creative artists, allowing them freedom of expression and a platform to explore their creativity. The form finally emerges as an essence, free in its manifestation and yet not different from the reality of the narrative — the form that allows the mind to grasp all aspects of its constituent elements. But then isn’t that the purpose of art — to allow the mind and heart to soar above the mere mundane? Mindscapes they are, underlining the unsaid and highlighting the said — undoubtedly.
Dr Alka Raghuvanshi is an art writer, curator and artist and can be contacted on email@example.com