We talk art, inspiration and ideas one of Bahrain’s most talented artists
Time Out Bahrain staff
The art scene in Bahrain is booming right now, with more artists, galleries and emphasis on fine art than ever before. What do you think is the reason behind this? Art in Bahrain, especially visual art, has taken a big leap forward in the past 10 years. What distinguishes the recent period is a state of openness that has prevailed in Bahrain, as well as the significant role that local galleries have played in this upsurge. What we need to do in the future is nurture more and more artists and ensure the continuity of production, not only for exhibitions but as an ongoing process.
What still needs to be done to make Bahrain an even stronger force on the international stage? We need to do more work and not just copies of art, but new ideas and ways of creating. We need to be constantly thinking of a new language of art. We also need to forge more relationships with people from all over the global art world, to give us access to global art forums, scholarships and international platforms. However, just as important as this is the constant search by the artist himself to keep exploring ideas and possibilities, rather than confining himself to one set of ideas and ways of working.
What tends to be your main source of inspiration? Actually, anything can be a source of inspiration, though I often find that women represent a source of great inspiration. Beauty is an important element of inspiration and in a particular framework and in relation with errors in beauty, this can be a powerful tool in a public space.
And this error in beauty is the focus of your new exhibition at Al Riwaq Art Space, right? Yes, and this involves the desires of humanity and bring about fear when we see it painted directly. These paintings are all about the perceptions of the dominant male culture and will hopefully challenge perceptions of those people. When people expect beauty and yet find something which is chaotic and not beautiful, then this can be shocking and destabilising, and this is what I was aiming for when I created this body of work.
You are a school teacher by day, and an artist by night. How do you manage to maintain a work-art balance? Indeed, when do you find you do your best work? Are you an early morning person, or are you most creative late at night? I feel a little bit restricted being a teacher during the daytime and an artist at night. Each day I work in my studio between 4pm and 9pm, and then during weekends and during work vacations, I’m in my studio from morning to night. I also make sure I leave time for my family,. And also time to go and visit other exhibitions and events that are important and help inspire me. That said, I also make sure I leave time for travelling. Travel for me is a great opportunity to rest, explore and get inspired by art from all around the world. The fact is, this schedule does take a lot of effort and organisation, so I am looking for a time when I will be able to dedicate myself solely to my art.
You have won a number of international prizes. What has been the highlight of your career to date? Yes, I have won prizes in a number of countries, from Bahrain and also Egypt, Kuwait and Qatar. But the artist doesn’t really care so much for awards, as what is important right now is to create work that has its own inherent value, but which might sometimes conflict with the prevailing taste in the art world at the time. Indeed it is often only with the reflection of time that one can start to discover the true value of art.
How do you see the art scene in Bahrain developing in the future? Bahrain has been developing in its artistic capacities for a long time now, and there are a number of artists that are considered an important part of the Arabic fine arts tradition, many of whom are showcasing their work at high level international exhibitions, and getting exposure from the very highest echelons of the art world. This is of great importance in putting Bahrain on the world stage. There is also a great number of young artists who are working hard and making serious attempts to contribute to the art world, which bodes well for the future. Jaffar Al Oraibi’s The Man, will run until November 20.