Bahrain Confidential explores the mind of renowned Bahraini artist, Rashid Al Khalifa

Bahrain is home to a flourishing art scene – just recently, we had the chance to share a conversation with distinguished artist, Rashid Al Khalifa about his recent exhibition “In Parallel”.

Rashid Al Khalifa. Black and Orange, 2014. Matte enamel on aluminium, 190x190cm

Your work has been exhibited not only regionally but also internationally. How have your cultural roots influenced your artistic output?

I have long been drawn to the natural landscape of Bahrain – the desert, wadis and the manner in which the sunlight diffuses over the landscape is very unique to Bahrain. I also feel very connected to my heritage and am reminded of it when I explore various forms and features of architecture as well as customs that are typically Bahraini.

Camels at Rumaitha Wadi_1983_Oil on Canvas_100 x 120 cm

I suppose these are the things that have greatly influenced my artistic output; for example, I continue to explore the ways in which I can best represent Bahrain’s light, or the feeling it evokes, which many would agree is unique to this region. Although I may have changed my manner of expression over the years, from representational landscapes to minimalistic large scale installations, the subject remains the same.

What themes are you exploring and what does your art express?

Pulse X_2009_55 x 55 cm_Oil on Canvas

In this particular exhibition, ‘In Parallel’, this selection of work touches on themes such as: light on the natural landscape, the symbolic feminine form, symmetry and space, as well as geometry in traditional forms of architecture. What is unique about this exhibition is that we have decided to relate works from different periods that evoke the same philosophy or meaning, next to one another. At first glance, they appear almost strikingly in contrast to one another and yet, if you take the time to contemplate the imagery, you are able to feel the similarity of meaning and sentiment that each evokes.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

From the landscape of my home country, design- both traditional and contemporary, from minimalism, symmetry and seeing the beauty in something once it is stripped of the details.

Fascination 1_1988_111 x 96 cm_Oil on Canvas

What motivates you to make art? Do you have any influences?

It is my solace – my place to ‘be’.

Which part of Bahrain is your favorite and why?

I have no favorite place in particular. I love old Muharraq and Manama. Zallaq has character as does Jasra. Of course, I love the empty desert after the rain.

About the exhibition:

In Parallel Exhibit

Curated by Yasmin Sharabi, In Parallel considers a selection of works spanning four decades. However, instead of retelling his story through a traditional timeline and in a typical retrospective format, Sharabi builds this exhibition off stylistic affinities, whereby works that represent specific key themes are cross – compared to those from different eras that are inherent of a similar essence.

In Parallel Exhibit

About the artist:

rashid al khalifa

Rashid Al Khalifa (b.1952, Kingdom of Bahrain) began his studies in 1972 at the Brighton and Hastings Art College in Sussex, where he trained in Arts and Design. Throughout his practice, he experimented with different means to express certain concepts and ideas.