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.
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”
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.”
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.”
“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.”
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.
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.”
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.”