Art

Bahraini art comes to London’s Saatchi Gallery

In a world of instant global communication, rapid urbanization and identikit cities competing to build high and sweep away the traces of the past, how do you hold onto your cultural identity while embracing change?

A recent ArtBAB (Art Bahrain Across Borders) exhibition at the prestigious Saatchi Gallery in London, featuring the works of 15 Bahraini artists, gave some insights into dealing with this challenge.

All the works, shown under the theme of “Diversity,” were completely unique in style, but each gave a sense of emerging from deep-seated cultural awareness.

Arab News spoke to some of the artists participating in the exhibition to learn more about their thinking and artistic approach.

Maryam Al-Noaimi talked about her striking installation “Salt Enriches.” The rack of black garments stained with salt from evaporated seawater act as a metaphor for a lost way of life and a warning about the dwindling precious resource of fresh water, without which it is impossible to wash the salt stains away.

Al-Noaimi, who undertook her master’s degree in urban design at the University of Colorado and her bachelor’s degree in interior design at the University of Bahrain, spoke about the dangers of isolating populations from their natural landscapes and resources.

Zain Al-Kooheji expressed similar sentiments through her works “Modernization’” and “Ruins.”

“The architecture of the Arab world plays a big part in my identity — I try to embody that in my art works. Typically the areas in Bahrain which have the old traditional buildings are within the ‘ruins’ area and the buildings are old, damaged and tarnished. My view is that in this modern world we are forgetting a lot of the authenticity and (the) sense of home and unity with all the big skyscrapers.

“I appreciate the marvels of the world, but I do think we are losing a bit of our authenticity and originality and what makes our culture so rich and diverse. I try to mix a contemporary art style with a traditional feel,” she said.

Salman Alnajem said his aim was to “redirect attention from mortal desires in the form of importance of social status, cultural stigma, Westernization and modernization to the shedding of light on the beauty and importance of culture and traditions.” Two works from his “Blackened Series,” “House” and “Help” were on display.

See full article here.

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