KAHLIL GIBRAN: A Guide for Our Times
Images courtesy CARAVAN - To enlarge, click on the Full Screen button above
Bahrain Arts Magazine was invited to an art exhibition featuring 38 premier Middle Eastern contemporary artists inspired by Kahlil Gibran’s message of peace and harmony held at Sotheby’s in London - 6-10 August 2018.
Kahlil Gibran - A Guide for Our Times is a strategic East-West peace-building exhibition inspired by the beloved Lebanese born poet-artist Kahlil Gibran’s universal message of peace and harmony found in his poetry, writings and art, and perhaps best seen in his best-selling book The Prophet, which celebrates its 95th publishing anniversary this year. The exhibition is organized by CARAVAN, an international peace-building arts NGO, and co-curated by Janet Rady and Marion Fromlet Baecker. Of the 38 artists exhibited, 14 were from Bahrain.
Below is a profile of each of the Bahraini artists and the piece of work exhibited.
Somaya Abdulghani is a Bahraini artist who specializes in conceptual art and uses several different techniques like collage, photography and mixed media. She strives to introduce Islam’s theological and philosophical beauty to her audience, by developing delicate, rhythmic and organic patterns in her art; attempting to mirror nature’s simplicity. The enlightening nature of the religion acts as a strong propellant in her art and practice. She believes in shared values present across various religions, such as morality and purity, and is interested in developing concepts related to her research.
Her work has been exhibited widely around the world, in countries including Bahrain, UAE, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkey, India, London, Italy and Holland. She has participated in several events including Almakan symposium in Tunisia, Asselah symposium in Morocco, as well as a group exhibition held in London’s Victoria and Albert Museum and Saatchi Gallery, Art Bahrain in Bahrain and Art Abu Dhabi in the UAE.
Her work is among the collections of the Bahrain National Museum and the Maraya Art Center in the UAE.
Born and raised in Bahrain, Sarah Aradi considers herself "a seeker of love." Between the words of Rumi and Carl Jung, the art of Michelangelo, Sargent and Waterhouse, she discovered "beauty" in the form of love. Sarah says, "l try to read between the lines in Gibran's Prophet and I look deeply into Mary's face in Bouguereau's Pieta. The many forms of love before and beyond any artist's work is where everything exists; and only there can they make fullest sense and communicate. This is what I want to create through my art - the dialogue of love.
Sarah works with different mediums such as acrylics, oils on canvas, paper & mixed media. Describing her artwork as a combination between figurative and realism, Sarah's pieces always showcase raw human nature and exposed emotions presented in a delicate layer of detailed work against plain blocks of color; a contrast that appeals to her soul and a balance of the abstract versus the realistic. She has had exhibitions in Qatar, Kuwait, United Kingdom and Bahrain, Sarah speaks silently to the viewer through the gazing faces in her art, in a "dialogue of love."
Born in 1985, Taiba Faraj graduated from the University of Bahrain with a degree in Banking and Finance. Faraj is a self-taught artist who took the step in 2012 to leave finance in order to pursue her career as a creative calligrapher. As a committed calligrapher and artist who immersed herself in the art from starting age of 12, Faraj is familiar with several styles of scripts. She has moved on from traditional calligraphy practice on paper with bamboo pen and ink to working on canvas with brushes and sponges. She has strived to create backgrounds on canvas that evoke the effect of marbled paper. Effectively modernizing her calligraphy practice with this transition to canvas, Faraj works with random letters as well as verses from the Qur'an and poetry. Through form and color, she gives her letters character and the ability to evoke emotion.
Faraj has participated in more than 15 group exhibitions in Bahrain as well as exhibions at the Victoria & Albert Museum and Gallery 8 in London and at the popular Desert Design Art Gallery in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. She is a member of the Bahrain Art Society and to date her work had appeared in solo and group exhibitions in Bahrain, U.K., USA, Jordan, India and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Noora Fraidoon is an architect by training and holds a master's degree in Architecture from Virginia Tech. Her work in the field of architecture led her to discover her passion for materials, and their innate aesthetics. In her designs, Noora creates a dialogue with the material to uncover hidden realities about both the material and herself. Noora is also fascinated by the concept of "design/build," being awarded the 'Design/ Build" 13 annual award by Virginia Tech's College of Architecture and Urban Studies. She utilizes this concept to close the gap between the designer and the maker resulting in richer concepts that celebrate aesthetics through materiality and vice versa. This concept also allows for a harmonious flow between the imagined concepts and tangible realities.
Currently running an art foundry, Noora is in constant contact with different materials in both their raw and formed nature which allows her to understand and appreciate materials for their true essence and to develop a curiosity for further exploring the inherent beauty of materials stripped from exaggerated human intervention and embellishment.
Mariam Haji is a Bahraini multidisciplinary artist who currently lives and works between Helsinki, Finland and Bahrain. She represented the Kingdom of Bahrain in the 55th Venice Biennale 2015, and was the winner of Bahrain's 58th National Fine Art Competition for her "Muse" series in 2012.
She works with different mediums ranging from Drawing and Painting to Video and Performance. In conjunction with her studio practice, she has been invited to lead several international artist talks by institutions such as the Mathaf Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar, the Ministry of the People's Republic of China in Beijing, China and the Corner College in Zurich, Switzerland.
Her work is part of the permanent collection of The National Museum in Bahrain, The Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities and The Ministry of Culture of The People's Republic of China.
MARIAM AND HER WORK WILL BE FEATURED IN ISSUE 2 OF BAHRAIN ARTS MAGAZINE
Nathaly Jung's passion for embroidery started as a young child, growing up in Algeria, watching her mother and grandmother embroider her dolls' dresses. Every Easter, her family would visit nuns from the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of La Salette, in the Algerian Sahara, who were teaching embroidery to the women of a remote village. She could never tell the front from the back of the embroidery and made a game out of trying to guess what it might be.
She began her career in France, designing costumes and film sets for French TV. Moving to Bahrain in 2009, her focus shifted back to embroidery and she created the Yalla Habibi label in 2015, designing embroidered cushions that blend Bahraini traditional textiles with motifs by local artists. In 2017, she exhibited her embroidered work, "Triangulation," at "The Nest" in Adlyia, an initiative of Al Riwaq Art Gallery.
Nathaly is inspired by the idea of making art accessible and fun and by collaborative art, working with other artists, local embroiderers, weavers and artisans, interpreting traditional crafts in a modern way to reinforce their appeal. "The more people participate in my artwork," she says, "the richer it will be”.
LULWA AL KHALIFA
Lulwa Al Khalifa is a self-taught Bahraini painter, who seeks to explore her artistic journey one canvas at a time. She has a BA in Literature from Boston University, a degree that she feels set her up for an unintended artistic future.
She writes, "Like visual art, literature stands on its own merit once it's published, and its relevance lies within its audience or consumer. Like literature, 19 visual art become valid when appreciated by others. While I have never had a formal education in art, I have always had a deep passion for it."
Lulwa's work is contemporary and she usually paints alla prima, with oil on canvas. She loves the texture and vibrant colors of oil paint and how one can't always predict how a stroke will translate on a canvas. She writes, "My favorite thing about art is that it is different things to different people. Art is a completely subjective pursuit where every expression is valid and no expertise is absolute." She has exhibited internationally and her artwork has been featured in numerous publications.
Ghada Khunji is a graduate of the Parsons School of Design and the International Center of Photography's Documentary Program, both in New York. She started her career in the early nineties as a freelance photographer in the fashion industry in New York City, and spent two years as a research assistant for photo agencies, including Black Star and Magnum, followed by eight years as a printer and print manager for a high profile clientele including Annie Leibovitz and Steven Meisel.
Khunji's photographs are known for documenting both landscapes and people from all over the world and the inherent dignity of the human element. In her latest work, she focuses the lens on herself by exploring her innermost feelings, thoughts and identity as a woman. Khunji is the recipient of a significant number of awards, including the Lucie Discovery of the Year (2006), American Photo Magazine's Image of the Year Award (2007), as well as the Golden Lights Award for Travel. She has exhibited widely in the US and Europe and throughout the Middle East. As the recipient of the Julia Margaret Cameron Award (2012), she won the first prize in the category of portraiture. One of her recent works was acquired by the Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives (ALJCI) in 2013. In the same year, she was nominated for the Prix Pictet, the global award in photography and sustainability. In 2017 she participated in The Colombo Art Biennale in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
MAI AL MOATAZ
Mai Al Moataz is an artist, dead rose collector, project director, and space designer. For the past decade, she has used black and white film to produce photographs through a meticulous analog darkroom process; a deeply cathartic ritual. Her images are romantically solitary and ethereal, as they present emblems of nostalgia and femininity.
Her work has been exhibited in a number of shows, 25 including: Vantage Point 4 at the Sharjah Art Foundation in (2016), Food is Culture at the Bahrain National Museum (2017), Tadafuq / Flow as a part of 21,59 Jeddah Art week (2017), Sikka Art Fair (2017), Do You Trust Me?, a collaboration between the Goethe Institute and Bahrain's Bin Mattar House (2017), Femmes: Par Des Artistes Femmes Bahreinies at UNESCO in Paris (2017), the Bahrain Fine Arts Annual Show (2018), and Mnawer with Hafez Gallery as a part of 21,59 Jeddah Art Week (2018). Her series Proof of Presence won first place in the Art Jameel Photography Award (2016).
JAMAL A RAHIM
Born in Bahrain in 1965, but schooled in his youth in India, Jamal A. Rahim has notched up an impressive portfolio of exhibitions, such as in Kuwait, Egypt, Morocco, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Norway, Holland, Japan, Slovenia, Spain, France and the UAE.
Originally a fisherman, Jamal always knew he was also an artist. He began as an oil painter in 1987, and then worked as a printmaker artist and sculptor. His totally untutored journey into the creative world allowed him the freedom to experiment, discover and on occasions stretch the boundaries of conventional image-making. His delight of feeling his way through the process of creating, coupled with his research of art history, has led to large works taking a well-known figure or image, for instance the Mona Lisa or the David, and then personalizing it with colour and texture, and often with symbols of the Middle Eastern culture. Miro has also been a prevailing influence in his work. Poetry and music also fascinate him.
In addition to being a master printmaker, as a painter and draftsman, he has created etchings or paintings in highly original handmade books. More recently he has begun creating three-dimensional work.
OMAR AL RASHID
Born in 1966 in Muharraq in the Kingdom of Bahrain, Omar Al Rashid was inspired by the bright, vibrant colours of the seascape. Muharraq was where his passion for Bahrain's culture and folklore developed, and consequently, his artistic creativity is dependent on his deep-rooted Bahraini and Islamic heritage.
Early on he knew he had a natural inclination to his own heritage and tradition. His dedication to his cultural heritage, led him to make the conscious decision to dissociate himself from the popular field of Plastic Arts practiced in the West.
His artwork is perceived as semi-abstract and semi-novel, with a balance between form and content, as well as originality and modernity. He has participated in numerous exhibitions in Bahrain and in the UAE.
Born in 1975 in Alexandria, Egypt, Jehan Saleh is an Egyptian artist who has lived and worked in Bahrain for the past 16 years. She started her journey in Bahrain as an art teacher in a public school from 2002 until 2005. Later she became an active member of the Bahrain Contemporary Art Society. For the past 12 years she has worked at Albareh Art Gallery (Adliya, Bahrain) as the Coordinator and Business Development Manager.
She has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions in Bahrain, as well as in Egypt, UAE, Greece, Qatar, Morocco and Spain.
Abbas Yousif, born in 1960, is a Bahraini artist and writer living in Bahrain. He received his Bachelor's degree in Arabic literature from Qatar University in 1982. His work is inspired by his interest in literature, poetry and Sufism. Throughout his career, he has explored working in the areas of calligraphy, painting, printmaking and bookmaking. Yousif experiments with literary texts, transforming his vision through formation and coloring into paintings 37 rich with aesthetic expression.
Since his first solo show in 1994, Yousif's work has been widely exhibited locally and internationally, in solo and group exhibitions. His works are held in the collections of The British National Museum in London, Museo Europeo de Arte Moderno in Barcelona, Montblanc, Museums in Bahrain, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Qatar, Damascus and Amman. He is also an acclaimed writer and has published To the Sea by a Butterfly's Wing (2006), With a Color of Fire - With a Spray of Metal (2009) and Shadow within the Shade (2015).
Camille Zakharia has exhibited across North America, Europe and the Middle East, including at the Venice Biennale, Italy, Victoria & Albert Museum London, UK, Canadian Museum of Civilization,
Quebec Canada, FotoFest 2014, Houston Texas, Musee du Quai Branly, Paris France, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax, Canada, Wichita Center for the Arts, Kansas, USA, Museum of Fine Art, Florida
State University, Florida USA, 59 Royal College of Art, London, UK and Sharjah Art Museum, Sharjah, UAE. Zakharia's works are in private and public collections including: Canadian Museum of
Civilization, Victoria and Albert Museum, National Museum of Bahrain, Qatar Museum Authority, Wichita Center for the Arts, Barjeel Art Foundation, Musee Suisse de l'Appareil Photographique and Art
Gallery at Saint Mary's
Zakharia has received numerous accolades for his work. He is the recipient of Canada Council for the Arts and Nova Scotia Arts Council grants. In 2010, he exhibited in the Reclaim project at the Bahrain Pavilion of the Venice Biennale's 12th International Architecture Exhibition, winning the Golden Lion Award for best National Participation. In 2009, he was shortlisted for the prestigious Jameel Prize that opened at the Victoria and Albert museum. In 2006 and 2007 he received three First Prizes in the International Photography Awards.