SINGAPORE: For the very first time in Southeast Asia, Art Bahrain Across Borders, an initiative launched in 2015 to bring the contemporary art of the Kingdom of Bahrain to the world, presents Bahrain Art Week Singapore. This inaugural exhibition – which will showcase 18 artists – marks a significant milestone for the Kingdom as it seeks to build strong diplomatic bridges with Singapore through a shared love of the arts and culture.
Held under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of the King of Bahrain, Art Bahrain Across Borders is also supported by strategic partner Tamkeen, the country’s agency that promotes the private sector and focuses on human resource capital.
Since it was first set up, Art Bahrain Across Borders has taken artists to different world art centres. Since 2015, it has exhibited in prestigious venues like the Victoria and Albert Museum and Saatchi Art Gallery in London; Bikaner House in New Delhi; Gostiny Divor in Moscow and just last month at the Grand Palais in Paris.
More than 200 specially invited guests from the art sector, including art collectors and enthusiasts, artists, gallerists, curators, art institutions and the diplomatic community attended a VIP preview on October 22 evening, with the Guest of Honour Mr Ho Meng Kit, Chief Executive Officer, Singapore Business Federation. Shaikha Maram Bint Isa Al Khalifa, Director of the Office of Her Royal Highness, Wife of the King of Bahrain, represented the Royal Patron at the Preview.
Bahrain Art Week Singapore will be open to the public at the Museum of Contemporary Arts at Loewen Road from 23 October through to 27 October, from 10.30am to 7.30pm daily. Admission is free.
More than 70 pieces of artwork that offer diverse and cutting edge expressions work in oil, pastels, acrylic, water-colour, resin, fabric and photography will be showcased at Bahrain Art Week Singapore.
Curated around the theme ‘Legacy’, these diverse works represent the Kingdom’s well- established and lively contemporary art tradition in a country steeped in culture, art and heritage that goes back 5,000 years to the Dilmunic era.
Co-curator of this Singapore edition, Ms Kaneka Subberwal, who conceived and created Art Bahrain Across Borders, said: “The 18 artists participating in Bahrain Art Week Singapore draw from an inheritance acquired over the generations, even as they express themselves with new forms, ideas and experiments. In this specially curated edition, you will find visual narratives shaped by their values, beliefs, as well as advocacy for different causes – from youth to women’s rights and connecting to a fast moving, tech-driven world. We believe that the works will resonate with the Singapore art-loving public as many of these are based on shared values, beliefs and causes, regardless of geographical borders or culture.
“Art Bahrain Across Borders chose Singapore as the country of its debut showcase in Southeast Asia. Singapore’s reputation as a regional arts hub precedes itself. Singapore’s growth in the arts and cultural sector has been phenomenal over the past few years, with more international art galleries being set up here, as well as international art exhibitions and auctions. It is our hope therefore – that this inaugural edition of Bahrain Art Week Singapore marks just the first of many more arts and cultural exchanges to come, as we seek to add value and greater diversity to the thriving arts sector in Singapore.”
Bahrain Art Week Singapore is organised by art consultancy firm Art Select and curated by art consultant Amrita Kilachand and Kaneka Subberwal, founder of Art Select.
Art Bahrain Across Borders, or ArtBAB is Bahrain’s premier international art fair that seeks to introduce Bahrain’s contemporary art to the world through collaboration, connection and education. It is the bridge between Bahrain and the world, as it seeks cross-cultural exchanges of ideas, techniques and new narratives in the arts that will be mutually beneficial to both Bahraini artists and the global arts community. ArtBAB is the flagship project of Art Select, the Bahrain-based art advisory, that manages artists, art platforms, events and investor portfolios.
Ahmed Al Asad
A literature student at the University of Bahrain, AHMED AL ASAD (born 1995) fell in love with art in his childhood. For Asad art is an escape from reality, a place to feel free in and express himself. He began his engagement with art thorough skilled caricature. Although he was reluctant to use brush and colours in his early works, he eventually fell in love with mixed media as they gave his art depths and dimensions by creating layers and textures.
“The ideas behind my artworks are reflection of my thoughts about life or things that move me, especially war and corruption. I also feel that art is the best way to criticise a serious problem suffered by an individual or the society and art could be the way to its salvation as well,” said Ahmed.
He participated in various exhibitions and presented some workshops in arts field. His participations include annual exhibition in University of Bahrain in 2015 and 2016, Pop-Up Symposium in Alriwaq Art Space in 2016, The Imago Mundi Project Bahrain Chapter with Art Select in 2017, various workshops with Ministry of Youth & Sports Affairs, Shabab Art Exhibition at Hind Gallery in 2018 and ArtBAB in March, 2018.
Born in 1968, AHMED ANAN’s artistic style connects between the local heritage and the western effects upon it. Most of these works centers on the man theme of ‘the Woman’.
The topic of ‘the Woman’ and her responsibility towards her house, husband and kids and the society’s point of view on her are depicted in diversified styles and topics by Ahmed. His last two solo exhibitions in 2016 “Conceal and Reveal” in Alriwaq Art Space Gallery and in 2017 at Anan Atelier, were in tune with this theme.
He experiments with a variety of material in his works of artistic printing, drawing and collage field. He has also teaches the art of printing and collage in workshops from time to time.
Part of many solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally since 1989, his works travelled to many regions around the world including Saudi, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, London, Doha, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt, etc. He has received a number of accolades in his field and his work is collected by the Bahrain National Museum and other private collectors.
Amina Al Abbasi
AMINA AL ABBASI is a renowned Bahraini artist whose master pieces are modern with a traditional touch and works around concepts of art and culture. She specializes in connecting the future to the past in our fast moving high tech world. She is a self-taught artist who strives to keep cultural subjects alive in our present and future, to find that common ground of beauty when it’s not too obvious.
Inspired by one of Bahrain’s ancient crafts, “Naseej”, a word in Arabic for Fabric Weaving, combines threads in complexly engineered patterns to form beautiful fabrics that were used in Bahraini’s daily lives.
“The careful sectioning and alignment of thread are the thoughtful connections we make over a colorful sea of emotion, a deeply personal experience. The result is a representation of how we connect the dots to make sense of a complex world,” said Amina.
Amina has held many solo and group exhibitions nationally and internationally over the past few years. She is also a lifestyle designer, covering subjects such as home décor and fashion accessories and owns a concept gallery – ‘Amina Gallery’ that sells art pieces of her creation and other products lines, at the hub of Manama.
AYMAN JAAFAR (born 1985) is a Bahraini writer and artist and has graduated from the University of Bahrain.
“Art is my passion. My art form is an inspiration of culture and literature. I write novels and short stories so I can imagine how letters and texts affect in the art,” explained Ayman.
“In my opinion Arabic calligraphy is not direct text to read. It’s a wild world in an emotional and cultural way. I do my art in abstract style so the letters can become free and meaningful. I also feel that the real pleasure is when I am able to use colours to portray what I think, what I feel, and what I really want to discover in this life.”
Ayman has held three solo exhibitions, namely ‘Aya Lilac’ at Naqsh Gallery in 2012; ‘Be my heart Delmouna’ at the Museum of Bahrain National in 2014 and ‘Manifestations’ at Isa Cultural Center in 2016.
He has also participated in numerous group exhibitions locally and internationally including ArtBAB in 2018, ‘A New Beginning’ at Naqsh Gallery 2017, ‘Un Said’ at the ArtBAB in India in 2017.
One of Bahrain’s finest abstract painters, BALQEES FAKHRO is a graduate of fine arts from the University of San Francisco. She represents the depth of sparkling technique and work that Bahraini women artists bring to the world of contemporary Bahraini art.
“My paintings are abstract in style. It revolves around the themes of belonging and memories of places. I utilise light and dark to convey contrast and depth. I like to use texture to give it more complexity. My monochrome color scheme gives my paintings a dream-like quality, and a sense of mystery. This allows the viewer to interpret the painting and make sense of it according to his or her own background.“
Having participated in numerous solo exhibitions locally, regionally and internationally from the year 1976, her paintings adorn distinguished collections in Jordan, Paris, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Germany and Qatar. She also created four murals for public spaces in the prestigious Four Seasons Hotel in Bahrain.
Faika Al Hassan
FAIKA AL HASSAN studied fine arts and painting in Bahrain and Lebanon. As an admired artist, her work is distinctive for its play on tens of small human figures inhabiting large and anonymous spaces. The overriding message is that of our own insignificance in the large scheme of things.
The small human figures in her paintings travel the canvas in large numbers and at times in groups yet are all isolated from one another.
For her Singapore oeuvre, Faika has explored her fascination for raw unbleached cotton used for the bedding of her childhood. She sees it as the fabric of life which sustains us from beginning to end.
In her paintings, the fabric is used as a visual trope: as clothing offering modesty and protection, as a container holding one’s possessions as one flees hardship to make a new life elsewhere, where once unpacked, the fabrics come out to make a new home. And everywhere, her humans crowd around, travelling along paths, often not understanding where they are heading. At times it seems that the figures are trapped by the rectangular canvases they inhabit as if in a maze.
Hanan Hassan Al Khalifa
HANAN HASSAN AL KHALIFA’s fascination with photography dates back to more than 30 years ago. During her continuous practice of photography, she has collected valuable archives from the many travels she has made to different corners of the world, including Yemen, Japan, China, North America, Cuba, Egypt and Ireland. All her of works have been documented in well-known publications.
Documenting Bahrain, the place where she was born and raised, remains her favorite topic. Over the years she has photographed her beloved homeland, reflecting the true and rich spirit of the kingdom.
Hanan is currently president of the Photography Club in Bahrain Art Society. In 2014, they won the World Cup of the Federation of International Art of Photography FIAP.
Hesham Abdulrahim Sharif
HESHAM ABDULRAHIM SHARIF, an upcoming Bahraini artist, presents his art in the challenging black and white colours, exploring the depths of these two colours to make a statement.
“In the pursuit of achieving a rewarding result, which is the feeling of the art, I think playing with blacks and whites offer a greater medium than any other. I find it gives the satisfaction of expressing the movement of a scene which in turn enables meeting the soul of the moment as it finds the form and shape of my feeling towards my visual experience. I would like the heart to guide your hands to discover the mysteries of the mind,” explained Hesham about his work.
Hesham’s participation in art exhibition include Bahrain Annual Art Show in 2013, Bahrain Annual Art Show in 2016, Group Exhibition ‘Views’ in 2016, Bahrain Annual Art Show in 2017, Group Exhibition at Imago Mundi Foundation in 2017, ‘The Nest’ at AlRiwaq Gallery in 2017, ‘Diversity’ at Saatchi Gallery in London in 2017, Bahrain Annual Art Show in 2018 and his first solo show ‘Frightening the Dark’ was held at Bahrain Arts Society in 2017.
Jamal A. Rahim
JAMAL A. RAHIM (born 1965), a self-taught artist, travelled to India at an early age to explore the world and follow his dreams. The first exposure of his talent to the public was at a group exhibition at Al Hala Club in 1987 and his first solo exhibition at Bahrain Arts Society in 1990. Over the next few years his solo and group exhibitions were widely seen in Europe and Asia.
Inspired by the principles of pure reality, Rahim chooses to portray his subjects in their most realistic form. His swirls, dashes and bold use of colour have gained him praise all over the world. He has several national and international awards, appreciations and recognitions under his belt for his phenomenal works.
He was guest of honor at several national and international art events and is a member of the jury of the 26th Mini Print International of Cadaqués, Spain in 2006. His artwork is found amongst the British Museum’s collection, the Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore and others. His famous birds sculptures can be seen at the London Four Seasons Hotel as well as many of his significant print artwork. He is also a member of The Bahrain Arts Society.
LINDA MATTAR is an architect by profession and an artist by heart. She believes in the power of thoughts and uses art as a medium to channel the energy of human emotions. She sees herself as an “observer”, observing the human behavior, colors of nature, shapes and geometry. She intends for each painting to serve as portal that delivers a message for her viewers that speaks beyond words, reveal the unseen, channel the untold to what can be felt by the heart and sensed by the soul.
Working with acrylic paints and mixed media gives her paintings a strong physical appearance. Combining architectural influences and her fascination with natural geometry, illustrates her spiritual beliefs and strong point of views alongside love for color and her understanding of its influence. She believes in the human ability to transform and to be whatever they want and uses art to captivate row emotions to inspire these changes.
Art and architecture has been the story of her life, combining hectic career as the Vice President of a leading Development company with her creative artists’ career effortlessly. Her love and possibly obsession for all that is artistic and creative had shaped her life and career.
Lobna Al Amin
Bahraini Artist LOBNA AL AMIN tangles with acrylic and mix media on traditional old Bahraini wood and canvas. Life, nature, and places are her prime sources of imagination, and where ideas for paintings originate from.
“To breathe life into a piece of lifeless block of wood is the pinnacle of joy. To engage others in your colors gives hope for survival,” mused Lobna. “For your chest to welcome your friends critiques is the path to success, and travel which inspires meditation, development, introspection, and change.”
Since 1989, Lobna Al Amin has participated in 53 group exhibitions and 7 solo exhibitions in Bahrain, Cairo, Paris, Sharjah, Kuwait, Morocco, Jordan, Netherland, Macedonia, Dubai, London, Damascus, Ireland, Berlin and Riyadh.
One of her prominent shows was the solo exhibition ‘Greeting for Ibrahim Al Orayyed’ held in UNESCO, Paris in 2008. In 2009, she held a solo exhibition titled ‘Fancy Angel’ alongside the poet Qassim Haddad in Berlin and Paris. Her recent works have exhibited at ‘Nest’ held at Al Riwaq Art Space, ‘Out of Time’ held at Albareh Art Gallery, Bahrain and a solo exhibition ‘Over the Skies and One Land’ held at Europea Gallery, Paris. Her works are collected by art museums nationally and internationally.
Lulwa Al Kalifa
LULWA AL KHALIFA is a self-taught painter who earned her BA in literature from Boston University. Her works have been exhibited in various cities around the world including Dubai, New York, London, Jordan and many more.
Through her series “From The Outside” Al Khalifa depicts women expressing different emotions in various levels of clarity, both visually and emotionally.
Clarity is the main concern in this particular series, as clarity in all aspects of life, especially clarity within oneself, is very illusive. What is seen around one and what one projects to the world is filtered through many lenses of one’s own creation. Lenses of preconceived ideas, beliefs, ingrained prejudices and past experiences. One’s perception of the world and the world’s perception of a person is effected by these filtered lenses rendering true clarity not only illusive but impossible.
Mariam Ali Fakhro
MARIAM ALI FAKHRO has been an active member of Bahrain Art Society since 1985. She currently works with canvas and acrylic as well as some work in sculptures and has a history of experience with oil and water colour. She curated over 25 art exhibitions at the Bahrain National Museum and Arts Center between 1991 and 2000, during her role at the Ministry of Information.
“I consider painting in my studio to be my oasis to disconnect. My passion for drawing and the pleasure it brings me is what started my career as an artist. Even now I still explore different ways to express what I want to say. In the beginning I enjoyed painting landscapes, figures and portraits. In recent years I have begun to paint from memory, with a woman figure repeated often. Some of my abstract work is also linked with the female presence,” stated Mariam Ali Fakhro. She has participated in many exhibitions held by ministry of information since 1985, and later with the Bahrain Authority for culture and antiquities.
She participated in Assilah culture festival in Morocco in 2006. Since 2015 she participated in all ART BAB Exhibitions in Bahrain, and across borders, in London, New Delhi, and Bombay. She also participated in a UNESCO exhibition in 2017 under the patronage of H.R.H Shaikha Sabeeka Bint Ebrahim Al Khalifa.
She had her last solo exhibition in 2011, and a joint exhibition in 2017 with artist Khalid Farhan. Currently she is participating in I AM Exhibition curated by Caravan Arts, which launched from Jordan onto London and the USA.
Her current works are recognized through the traditional house element which is a motif often duplicated, bringing nostalgia and memories of a past era to the viewer. This work is drawn from the memories of her childhood in her grandfather’s house. Her work is seen regularly exhibited nationally and internationally.
Nabeela Al Khayer
A free-spirited traditional artist, who is driven by a fierce passion to inspire and empower women in a masculine and traditional society, NABEELA AL KHAYER developed her artistic skills at the Slade School of Fine Art in London.
Describing herself as a colorist, she uses fabric, paper photograph, resin, oil, acrylic, and watercolors, to infuse life in her portraits. She creates stories of magic with bright and expressive female characters in her work.
The free-spirited contemporary artist is also a successful businesswoman. Nabeela has held numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the Middle East and across the globe, where from her first solo exhibition in Bahrain in 2002, she became the recipient of the prestigious Silver Leaf Award in 2003.
Nabeela has held exhibitions in the Middle East, Europe, New York, and Asia, where her work stands among the collections of Bahrain National Museum and the Jordan National Museum
Noof Al Refaei
NOOF AL REFAEI, an artist and designer, has participated in numerous exhibitions within and outside Bahrain since 2011.
“At certain point in our life, we fall down due to pain and fear or even loosing something important from our life. Once we notice we are not where we should be and realize that the religiousness and spirituality is missing in our life, most of us reach out or return to God. My artwork shows the relation between me and my past with God,” said Noof, about what inspires her works.
In addition to her participation in the global auctions including Christie’s Auction by Noor Dubai, she has received several accolades for her works. In 2016, one of her artworks was chosen to be launched at Victoria and Albert Museum of Art in London and it was then exhibited at Gallery 8 in London, and later in an art museum in Azerbaijan in 2018.
Omar Al Rashid
From the start of his career, OMAR AL RASHID juxtaposed his emotional attachment to his heritage, customs and tradition with a conscious experimentation. He also distanced himself from the trend for ‘plastic arts’ and worked hard to create a genre of painting that was immediately seen as deriving from Bahraini and Islamic culture. He has achieved a balance between form and content as well as originality and modernity.
Born in Muharraq in 1966, AI-Rashid was inspired by the bright, vibrant colours of the seascape. Muharraq was the first place where his passion for Bahrain customs and folklore developed. His second artistic inspiration was his mother. As a child, he monitored her movement, traditional dress and endless folk tales. It is because of this intimate association that his female figures echo a balance between femininity and strength; strength reflected by the dominating colours and vivacious fabric. He positions his women so that they are not portraits but instead are portrayals of symbolic women; Middle Eastern women; women of the past, present and future.
Omar AI-Rashid continues to participation in group and solo exhibition in Bahrain and internationally.
A message of peace, courage and co-existence through the eyes of a Bahraini artist in abstract form. SEEMA BAQI is a local Bahraini artist that spent most her career in the corporate world. She has always been extremely passionate about creative expression and fine art, and has now dedicated her time to her passion.
The artistic expedition of Seema Baqi aims to express the local traditions of the Kingdom in today’s contemporary world. A scene of modernity in attitudes and practices with the preservation of culture and tradition. An untamed imagination and a plethora of creative expression. Her contemporary abstract pieces tell the story of the Sufi culture and its ideologies of selflessness, simplicity and the journey to self-actualisation. Much like the authentic Bahraini culture, the root of Sufism is based on the practices of loyalty, love and truthful intentions in any setting. It is a form of tradition and emotional beauty by which is translated onto canvas.
Having exhibited in Beirut, Greece, Turkey, Morocco, London, Dubai, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, she has acquired a great deal of experience and has come to love and appreciate all forms of art, whether it be contemporary or classic. Throughout her many endeavours, she has collaborated with several artists and contributed to many charities with her artwork. Her main goal today is to showcase her local Bahraini artwork by liaising with different designers and artists of all cultures to create beautiful art and send a peaceful message of co- existence.
TAIBA FARAJ graduated from the University of Bahrain with a degree in Banking and Finance. Aside from being adept in finance, she is also a committed calligrapher and artist who immersed herself in the praxis from the age of 12. As a calligrapher, she is familiar with several styles of script. Effectively modernizing her calligraphy practice with a transition to canvas and sculpture, she works with verses from the Quran, Bible and poems, giving them forms and colours to stir various emotions.
She treads a line between two and three dimensions, often combining ceramic sculpture with other materials like wood, metal, and freely taking the body apart, to create that suggest ambiguous narratives.
“I think three-dimensional works allow people to understand the ways their own physical bodies are implicated within the narratives,” she said. “I hope that my work helps people to understand how deep the humanity means and extract inner treasure which lies in all of us.”
She is a member of the Bahrain Art Society and to date her work had appeared in solo and group exhibitions in Bahrain, UK, USA, Jordan, India and KSA.
She is one of 31 of the Middle East’s premier contemporary women artists selected for peace building traveling exhibition.
Shaikha Maram bint Isa Al Khalifa
SHAIKHA MARAM BINT ISA AL KHALIFA is the Director of the Office of Her Royal Highness, Wife of the King of Bahrain.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Science from the University of Bahrain and an MBA from DePaul University.
She worked at the University of Bahrain as a Graduate Assistant in the Department of Computer Science for two years then worked for six years at Ibn Khuldoon National School as high-school teacher and Community Service Coordinator.
She joined the office of Her Royal Highness in 2002 as Director. She is one of the founders of the Bahrain International Garden Show and is currently the General Coordinator of the Show.
She is also one of the founding members of the National Initiative for Agricultural Development (NIAD) and currently holds the position of Secretary General of NIAD.
Shaikha Maram is a member of the board of trustees of Bahrain Polytechnic and the board of directors of Durrat Resort Management Company.
Curator: Amrita Kilachand
Banker turned art consultant AMRITA KILACHAND has been widely appreciated for her work in the fields of art, design and philanthropy.
Armed with a degree in finance and economics from England, she began her financial career in 1998 and has worked at firms like Merrill Lynch and ABN Amro.
She then went on to start her own advisory services for art collectors – individual, corporate and institutional.
Amrita is an avid collector of Indian contemporary art and antiques which has further deepened her interest and knowledge in those areas of interest.
Her desire to give back to communities is manifested through her work with the Sahachari Foundation in Bombay, promoting women entrepreneurship in the field of design and giving the proceeds to NGOs.
Amrita’s eye for modern and unique work that is steeped in tradition and culture has drawn her to curate Bahrain Art week in Singapore 2018, inspired by the unique appeal of Bahraini art.
Curator; kaneka Subberwal
Art consultant, collector, curator and keen watcher of contemporary art trends, KANEKA SUBBERWAL is self-taught in art – she is also much respected internationally for her quick eye for talent and fine art and sought-after as a speaker in art show platforms around the world.
Kaneka launched ArtBAB as the flagship project of her art investment and advisory company, Art Select as a business module to project the unique narrative of contemporary Bahraini art. The show is held annually under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa, wife of His Majesty the King and President of the Supreme Council for Women, an active patron of culture and arts.
ArtBAB is supported by Tamkeen, the government’s agency for change management and development of Bahraini human resources. The Fair has created a network of alliances with established and recognised individuals and groups in the art world, sharing values and showcasing contemporary art and the culture it represents in its best form.
Since its first show in 2015, ArtBAB has taken Bahraini art to the world and raised its visibility as well as its monetary value. By the time of ArtBAB 2018, there was a 40% increase in the value of Bahraini art sold at the show and a general increase in the price of Bahraini canvases and sculpture.