Bahrain Confidential explores the mind of Bahrain-based artist, Mebin Varghese.
I finished a degree in commerce and I am now pursuing my master’s degree in textile design. Though I have no formal education in art, my training in an art and design school has indeed opened new perspectives for me, adding value to my practice.
What do you remember as your first work of art?
I experienced a strong incline towards art after my bachelor’s. What remained a hobby until then developed into passion. The series of paintings I created as I entered this stage is what I remember as my first work of art. That particular body of work allowed the viewer to connect to its concept. And I feel that is an important part of my work; to be able to trigger thought, establish a relation and create dialogue.
Can you describe your painting process, how do you know when your artwork is finished? How long does it take to finish a piece?
My process has been evolving over the years. I have certain inspirations and concepts that I work on and the artwork emerges from my understanding of them. Sometimes, it starts with making and engaging with material, and the artwork develops from that. It is an ongoing process. There are times when I have understood the meaning of my work only after it is made. And there are some pieces, the meanings of which I am still searching for. This is why I believe that the process is more important than the outcome. It fortifies the creative practice. I generally work with paints and canvas and have explored digital media as well. My current body of work will be exploring textile as a medium.
I feel satisfied with my work when I see that I have achieved what I intended to express. It may not necessarily be complete, like I said, it is evolving. The time taken is variable. It usually ranges from an approximate of 6 hours to 55 hours of working with material.
My current favourites are burnt sienna and shades of purple. Both give a sense of disintegration and pain. My all-time favourite is black. It is powerful and has the ability to express two sides of the same coin.
What inspires you as an artist?
Everyday life is a constant source of inspiration. Emotional struggles and the impact it has on one’s daily life and surroundings is the underlying theme of my paintings. Emotions are not just individual internal feelings; they are influenced by strong social and cultural contexts. Fear and conflict are themes I predominantly work with.
Which part of Bahrain is your favourite and why?
I enjoy the Manama Souq; the streets, space and architecture is full of character. I also love visiting Block 338. The relationship between art and the space offers the area a different dynamic.
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