Bahrain will be in the spotlight as a major art exhibition opens in Germany tomorrow.
Four artists with varying backgrounds – but with a common Bahrain link – will showcase their work at the renowned AquabitArt gallery, Berlin.
The exhibition ‘4:1 – 4 artists, 1 location’ includes 41 introspective drawings, visionary paintings, collaged photographs as well as paper collages, “all of which reflect the true spirit of Bahrain”.
Curated by Canadian curator and producer Frances Stafford, it features work by Ali Dowlatshahi, Yasmin Sharabi, Patrick Molony Harris and Leon D – all of whom either currently live and practice their art in Bahrain, or have worked on projects on the island and created art during that time.
“One of the highlights of the exhibition is that it will give audience a chance to be introduced to, and to engage with Bahrain, on a more personal level,” Ms Stafford told the GDN.
“Many people that I know in Berlin have only a small understanding of what Bahrain has to offer.”
The two Bahrainis in the show – Yasmin Sharabi and Leon D – present different styles and subject matters, yet both of their series are deeply personal.
Whereas, audience will get to see some of Bahrain’s authentic landscape and culture through Patrick Harris’ sketches and Ali Dowlatshahi’s collaged photographs. They have both used Bahrain as a subject matter as they have worked on projects in the country over the course of a few years, Ms Stafford said.
Mr Dowlatshahi, a freelance designer based in Berlin, has been designing for numerous international brands, most notably in Bahrain and New York. In the expo he presents digital colourfields inspired by his travels to Bahrain.
Bahraini artist Mohamed Alaabar, known as Leon D, is a multidisciplinary visual artist who is driven by his interest in understanding the physical and metaphysical nature of possible and probable realities.
Art scholar Patrick Molony Harris, who managed two projects for Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (Baca), is known for producing the world’s largest sail painting in 2011.
Artist and curator Yasmin Sharabi, consultant to pioneering Bahraini artist Shaikh Rashid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, Nationality, Passports and Residence Affairs Under-Secretary and Bahrain Arts Society honorary president, is also taking part.
Ms Stafford highlighted the similarities in their work – the persistent focus on desert scapes, refineries and sea views, “things that come to mind when most of us think of Bahrain.”
In fact, three of Ms Sharabi’s works explore connections between Lamu Old Town, Kenya and Bahrain.
“To her, Lamu was haunting. It reminded her of Bahrain’s lost past, even though she had never truly lived it,” Ms Stafford said. “It called to mind a time when people were still connected to the seaside, to nature and the ocean; when ports and the traditional dhow were essential and an integral part of the economy and culture.”
Organising the event had been tough as countries are battling the coronavirus pandemic, Ms Stafford said.
“Artists had to send works on paper since no large shipments (crates containing canvases or sculptures) could leave Bahrain.”
Only a maximum of four visitors will also be allowed inside the gallery room at the same time and they have to follow guidelines to curb the virus spread.
Ms Stafford said she is planning a 360-degree virtual tour of the exhibition on August 7 “so that people in Bahrain too can have the experience of visiting the gallery”.
Ms Stafford started her career in Bahrain at Al Riwaq Art Space before moving to the Bahrain Ministry of Culture. There, she mainly produced and directed large-scale public projects and worked in the National Museum as a senior exhibition specialist. Currently she continues to advise and manage various international artists.
“We plan to have many more exhibitions of Bahraini artists as well, within the new year, depending on the current crisis of course,” she said.
“Bahraini artist Huda al Saie will be presenting her acrylic works on canvas here during Berlin Art Week next month.”
The Berlin exhibition continues until the end of August and can be visited from Tuesday to Friday from 11am to 6pm by appointment.
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