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.”


‘My quest’: Priyanka Chopra brings Bollywood to Toronto

Updated 14 September 2019

‘My quest’: Priyanka Chopra brings Bollywood to Toronto

  • Priyanka Chopra was the first Indian actress to lead a primetime US series
  • ‘The Sky is Pink is Chopra’s first Hindi-language film in three year

TORONTO: No Indian star has made a bigger splash in Hollywood than Priyanka Chopra — and the “Baywatch” actress said she is on a quest to shatter myths about Bollywood, including its approach to sex.
Chopra was the first Indian actress to lead a primetime US series with FBI thriller “Quantico,” and cemented her global celebrity status by marrying pop singer Nick Jonas last December.
That star power secured a glitzy, red-carpet slot at Toronto’s film festival for “The Sky is Pink,” Chopra’s first Hindi-language film in three years. It is the only Asian film on the prestigious gala lineup at North America’s biggest movie festival.
“People get surprised when they see ‘The Sky is Pink’ and they’re like, ‘this is not a Bollywood movie.’ Bollywood is not a genre!” Chopra said ahead of the premiere Friday.
“It really is my quest to educate people in that.”
Directed by Shonali Bose, “The Sky is Pink” tells the tragic true story of Aisha Chaudhary, an inspirational Delhi teenager whose life was cut short by a rare genetic disorder.
Chaudhary delivered a TED talk and wrote a book on her battle before her death in 2015 at the age of 18. But the film focuses on her parents, exploring how their marriage and love — and even their sex life — survived the loss of two children.
Until recently kissing was rarely shown in films made by conservative Bollywood, better known abroad for its colorful musical numbers and fairytale romantic plots.
“I don’t think we haven’t spoken about sexuality in Indian films — we do,” said Chopra, 37. “I think sexuality is spoken about in many different ways in Indian cinema.”
“It’s culturally sensitive, yes,” she added. “India is an amalgamation of modernity and tradition. And this film is made by a modern Indian. So hence, you see what her language is. This is true to who she is.”
Bose, whose own marriage ended after she lost her son, was approached by Chaudhary’s parents to make the film.
Chaudhary had been a fervent fan of the director’s work, and never fulfilled her “dying wish” to see Bose’s previous film “Margarita With A Straw.”
Bose said she was moved by the request but chose to focus on the parents after learning of their “amazing” love story and care for their child.
“They wanted the film to be about their heroic dying teenage girl, and I don’t feel she would’ve wanted to be on a pedestal — actually she was really cool and humble,” she said.
Chopra, who does not have children, said she drew on others’ experiences, including Bose’s, to play Chaudhary’s mother Aditi.
But there is plenty of Chopra in the role too. At one point her character is described as “the ‘almost’ Miss India.” Chopra herself was crowned Miss World in 2000.
As beauty pageants led to acting, Chopra, who attended school in the US, said she held onto her global outlook.
Also a singer, Chopra has released songs with US chart-toppers including Pitbull and The Chainsmokers.
“It’s a genuine quest of mine to be able to cross-pollinate cultures, and to be able to take Indian cinema to the globe as much as I can,” she said, adding: “It’s not the language that’s the barrier — it is the fear of the unknown.”
Movie-mad India has the largest film industry in the world in terms of the number produced — up to 2,000 every year in more than 20 languages, according to industry data.
Bollywood star Akshay Kumar regularly appears in Forbes’ annual list of the world’s top 10 highest-paid actors.
In recent years Bollywood’s influence has spread in North America, thanks to a growing, affluent South Asian diaspora — and a smattering of Western converts.
But while other Bollywood actors and actresses have landed high-profile roles in the US, such as Deepika Padukone in 2017’s “XXX: Return of Xander Cage,” none are as recognizable as Chopra.
“I really hope that there’s so many more entertainers from India that get the opportunity and push themselves toward global entertainment,” said Chopra.
“The world of entertainment is so global now,” she added. “With streaming coming in everyone from anywhere can watch anything.”