Time Out catches up with one of the Arab world's most interesting artisits
Time Out Bahrain staff
Hamza Bounoua is one of the Arab world’s most interesting artists. Born in Algeria, but based in Kuwait, Bouanoua has become famous for his graphic reinterpretations of traditional Berber calligraphy.
In advance of his solo exhibition at the Albareh Gallery in Bahrain, Time Out caught up with the master to talk art, Arabs and aesthetics.
Who has been your greatest inspiration, artistically? The greatest inspiration I had was from the Algerian artist Khdaa.
You currently reside in Kuwait. Is there a sizeable artistic community in the country? Although Kuwait is rather small, artists are always welcome in the country. Those bringing new artistic vision are generally greatly welcomed, particularly by the educated Kuwaiti community. Besides, it is not the size of a country that counts, but the quality of its opinions. For a long time, modern Arabic art has been overlooked by the West. Do you think this is changing? Yes, it is changing. Arab artists are being recognised. They have introduced new perspectives and greater scope. Oriental emotion plus occidental technology equal a wealth of modern talent.
What piece of art created in the past 50 years do you wish you had created? I don’t think I could justify a piece of art created 50 years ago. How could one create what someone as old as your father has created that long ago?
Are the GCC countries doing enough to aid artists in the region? The GCC countries are doing their utmost. And history has taught us that the arts were supported by the generosity of the ruling class for thousands of years: nothing has changed.
At the centre of much of your art is language. Do you see language as facilitating or prohibiting communication between different nations? Language is a means of communication.
Is your art in anyway religious in nature? My art is not religious in any way.
A lot of your art is calligraphic. Is the calligraphy in your art derived from any language in particular? My calligraphy is the result of a mixture of Arabic, Berber and African languages. It is a kind of visual language that is easy to understand on all levels.
Which country do you most like exhibiting in? The GCC are really the most enjoyable, as they continue the Arab centuries-old tradition of guiding all artists: Islamic art has survived for so long thanks to the Arab rulers.
If you could describe your art in four words, what would they be? Universal language of friendship.