Written by: Dalia Ali

BAHRAIN- The fourth edition of Art Bahrain Across Borders (ArtBAB) ran from the 6th-10th of March at the Exhibition Center in Manama. ArtBAB is a very prestigious cultural event in Bahrain, it is also part of the Spring of Culture month. The art fair consisted of a main ArtBAB pavilion showcasing Bahraini artists in addition to different booths for international and local galleries as well as individual artists. A lot of art stood out at the event, below is a list of my favourite picks:

Artist Mohammad Al Mahdi with his work (image courtesy of Dalia Ali)

A striking collection of 10 paintings drawn with spontaneous and colorful brushstrokes caught my attention as I entered the ArtBAB pavilion. The latest collection by Bahraini artist Mohammed Al Mahdi. The artist’s art is critical of various issues in society. In this collection, he explores the effect of media on society, specifically on women. At the center of this installation is a TV representing media, and above it is the male chef responsible for “cooking this dish”, the master planner of this consumer society. The other paintings show the targeted women, the main purchasing power who are affected by this media, showing how their purchases changed the clothes they wore, hair styles, makeup and plastic surgery.

Artist Jamal Abdul Rahim with his artwork (image courtesy of Dalia Ali)

The variety of art in Jamal Abdul Rahim’s stand was very impressive. A self-taught Bahraini prolific artist with outstanding paintings, drawings, prints and sculpture. His work is continuously evolving, and he is always exploring new techniques and themes. This year he has incorporated gold, silver and bronze leaf into his oil paintings, as well as a new collection of paintings with shiny resin surfaces which enriches the viewer’s experience.

Artist Faika Al Hassan with her artwork (images courtesy of Dalia and and khawatem.com respectively)

Faika Al Hassan, a well-established Bahraini female artist showcased an interesting collection of her famous lines of small human figures on canvas. The paintings are superimposed by Plexiglas that reflects and refracts the incoming light rays, effectively producing rich variations of the painted human figures. Al Hassan’s underlying message is of our own insignificance in the larger scheme of things.

Galerie Bruno Massa booth (image courtesy of the gallery)

One of the international galleries participating in ArtBAB is Bruno Massa Gallery, which is based in Paris and New York City, and has strong international presence. The gallery showcased paintings and sculptures by a group of artists, including our very own Jordanian artist Wedad Alnasser. Wedad shared her experience with the gallery and showed us how this gallery helped promote her artwork through her participation in various international art fairs.

Art Lounge Gallery booth and Uiso Alemany artwork (image courtesy of Dalia Ali and the gallery)

The art of Uiso Alemany caught the attention at ArtBAB. Exhibited at Art Lounge Gallery, the huge paintings are infused with strong colors, symbols and characters as if trying to communicate various messages to the viewer. At 78 years, Alemany seems to reinvent his form of expression.

Art Agency Limited:

Art Agency Ltd. booth at artBAB (image courtesy of gallery)

The Georgian-Russian artist, sculptor and architect Zurab Tsereteli was one of the artists represented by Art Agency ltd. He had prints and sculptures, but the most remarkable pieces were the framed huge vibrantly colored flowers. Initially, one would think they are paintings, but as you get closer you realize they are copper with enamel in relief.  They are such attractive and unique pieces.

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