Highlights from ArtBAB 2019

“Shaar Banat” Mashael Al-Saei. (Supplied)
Updated 28 February 2019

Highlights from ArtBAB 2019

  • The fourth edition of Art Bahrain Across Borders opens on March 6 at the Bahrain Exhibitions & Convention Center
  • The four-day art fair is presented under the theme of “Legacies”

DUBAI: The fourth edition of Art Bahrain Across Borders opens on March 6 at the Bahrain Exhibitions & Convention Center. The four-day art fair is, this year, presented under the theme of “Legacies,” and will explore five decades of the Bahraini contemporary art scene.

This year’s ArtBAB includes, for the first time, a ‘Virtual Reality Corner’ alongside the more traditional media, where visitors will be able to “literally ‘touch’ celebrated contemporary Chinese art collections, 17th-century Dutch and Flemish masterpieces as well as millennial VR artwork.”

“In the 2019 edition of the fair, we shall explore not just the heritage and legacies that inspire Bahraini contemporary art, but also the new directions of art on the global stage,” Shaikha Maram bint Isa Al-Khalifa, director of the Office of Her Royal Highness Wife of the King of Bahrain, explained in a press release.

Kaneka Subberwal, fairs and program director for ArtBAB 2019, described the fair as “an exciting amalgam of Bahraini art and cutting-edge trends.”

Here, Arab News presents a selection of works that will be on show at this year’s fair.

“Shaar Banat”

Mashael Al-Saei

Al-Saei is a film photographer and art director. In her “Shaar Banat” series, she aims — according to the fair’s promo literature — to “hyper-emphasize the subject matter of hair as a marker of Middle Eastern beauty” and invite questions about “the reality of the beauty culture” in the region. Al-Saei produces images of women “drowning in their own locks” with their faces concealed, “thus allowing the viewer to insert themselves into the photographs.”

Al-Saei concentrates on analogue photography, believing that the extra time and focus required — along with the temporary nature of the form — “translates the rawness and reality of her subjects.”

“Water Reflection III”

Nabeela Al-Khayer

Al-Khayer, who trained in London, Paris and Geneva, is known for her focus on female empowerment and exploration of women’s issues, but has lately taken to “depicting with the same depth and emotion the magnificence and mysticism of water in all its unexpected moods and movements.” She often employs contrasting textures and materials, and a range of techniques, in her art, to portray the “depth, the complexity and unpredictability of life.”

“Weaved 2”

Sarah Al-Aradi

Al-Aradi describes her portraiture as a combination between the figurative and the abstract and uses her work to explore “the influences of modern beauty, spirituality, and the depth of the human soul.” Fashion and beauty trends are major influences on Al-Aradi’s work, she says, and she selects colors and moods related to “the state of love, transformation and enlightenment.”


Reem Janahi

“Through my work, I tell the story of the women in my life,” says Janahi. “They are the anchor of my being. My work has become a tribute to them and to the way they have shaped my life.”

The artist describes her work as “a mirror of thought; it is a reflection of who I am and how I feel,” and as a “mourning of lost youth, a tribute to past struggles, and an indication of future strengths.”

“El Shuyookh”

Halla bint Khalid

The Saudi Arabian artist is perhaps best known as an illustrator of children’s books, but she began her career as a fine artist, and was a pioneer in the Kingdom, producing life-like portraiture in the Eighties and Nineties — a time when such art was considered by many as blasphemy. This oil painting, for example, is part of her “Saudi Heritage” series and was created in 1995.

“Untitled 1”

Balqees Fakhro

For Fakhro, according to her bio, her abstract painting is a way to “reproduce the range of emotions she encounters in the music of Mozart or Stravinsky.” The celebrated Bahraini artist studied in Beirut and the US in the Seventies, and is now one of the most influential female artists — and art critics — in the GCC.

“My paintings revolve around the themes of belonging and memories of places,” she told Bahrain Arts Magazine. “My monochrome color scheme gives my paintings a dreamlike quality and a sense of vagueness. This allows the viewer to interpret the painting and make sense of it according to his or her own background.”


Maryam Nass

Nass began painting aged 15, but abandoned art for several years, only beginning again in 2005 and finding it “a means of achieving internal peace and a silent medium for dialogue.”

“Abstract art is a way for me to express, rather than illustrate, feelings and inner emotions,” Nass says in her artist statement for ArtBAB. “Words are not always understandable or received well, but a painting can have hidden messages or meanings that do not have to be revealed. Mine are created without a plan, without an explanation, just a spontaneous composition after having dared to descend into my inner self.”


KSA’s Eastern Province residents welcome Sharqiah Season visitors from far and wide

Updated 19 March 2019

KSA’s Eastern Province residents welcome Sharqiah Season visitors from far and wide

  • The Sharqiah Seasonfeatures over 80 events in cities acrossf the Kingdom's Eastern Province
  • Events in the upcoming weekends feature sports events as as well as concerts

RIYADH: Residents of the Eastern Province are no strangers to foreign visitors — the nation’s oil heartland has been welcoming them for years. But more have been arriving with the opening of Sharqiah Season, featuring over 80 events across the region’s cities.

Organized as a collaborative effort by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage alongside the General Entertainment Authority, the General Culture Authority and the General Sports Authority, it is the first of 11 scheduled festivals planned across the country in 2019.

Faisal Al-Rayisi, an employee at King Fahd International Airport in Dammam, told Arab News he was surprised by the number of people arriving for the festival. 

“People are not only coming from Saudi Arabia, but from all over the Gulf as well — Kuwait and the UAE in particular,” he said. “I’ve even seen foreigners from Europe and Asia coming through. Time was, we used to go to Dubai for our entertainment, but now people from Dubai are coming to us.”

He also mentioned how happy he was to see the festivities coming to the Eastern Province. “Jeddah has this slogan, ‘Jeddah is different,’ but now that we’re seeing the first Sharqiah Season in our region, and all of these amazing activities and concerts are happening here, I think we can safely say ‘Sharqiah is different’ now.”

The Sharqiah festival aims to deliver an extensive entertainment experience for both Saudis and visitors to the Kingdom.

The festival features events in Eastern Province cities, including Dammam, Dhahran, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa and Jubail. Future seasons will focus on different areas of Saudi Arabia, with different entertainment options for each city. Upcoming seasons will focus on different areas, and also different parts of the year, such as Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha.

Turki Al-Sheikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority, said in a statement that  the organization’s participation in the festival aligns with its goal of improving the quality of life in the Kingdom, and discovering local talent in various entertainment industries.  

He also highlighted the importance of the entertainment sector and its contribution to the economy and the creation of jobs for locals, all important aspects of Vision 2030.

The opening night of Sharqiah Season on Thursday drew crowds of Saudis to the Alkhobar Corniche, despite strong winds and sprinklings of rain earlier in the day. Groups of friends stopping to take selfies and families with young children in tow wandered through the Entertainment Boulevard, lined with food stalls selling karak and koshari.

Earlier in the day, the mega event began with the opening of an exhibit featuring the work of Leonardo da Vinci at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra). 

The exhibit showcased some of Da Vinci’s original sketches, with several screens showing videos detailing how his designs have continued to inspire scientists and inventors in the modern era.

Sharqiah Season continues until March 30, with upcoming weekends featuring sports events such as the Red Bull Air Race and the Formula 1 H20 boat race, as well as concerts in Dammam featuring Akon, Deadmau5, Pitbull and French Montana.