One of Bahrain’s most prominent artists is currently preparing for his next exhibition
Time Out Bahrain staff
We like the name of your next project, ‘Photo Synthesis’. What is it about, and what can people expect to see? The juxtaposition of people and settings forms the main focus of the exhibition. An example is the picture of a girl living on the streets in India transposed to a village setting in Bahrain. This image conveys the universality of grappling with life’s realities, as well as drawing attention to its different degrees.
You have created the pieces through a technique you call ‘positively paper’ – tell us about that. Positively paper is a process that involves the use of a positive film and coloured paper layered between two sheets of glass. One piece of glass is placed between the paper fragments and positive film and another on top. This ‘skin’ creates a divide between the paper and the film, allowing each to retain its unique characteristics, while simultaneously acting as the glue that holds the final piece together. It also gives the works a special luminosity, since the glass seems to trap light, while giving the piece something of a 3D effect.
Are there any noticeable themes running through the pieces, other than the technique used? My art focuses on people, generally on the fringe of society, and graffiti, both found in abundance in most major metropolises, and both often taken for granted and generally ignored.
Do you prefer photography to more traditional painted art? What inspired you to do this? I do paint, but the technique I have developed is unique to me, and because of that I have a greater affinity towards photography as it is an integral part of my art. I discovered my present technique purely by accident, but I continue to experiment, mixing screen angles with paper textures, exposing under layers of paper, using a range of opacities and introducing fabric with positive films of differing resolutions.
How do you want people to approach your work, and what will they take away? Like all art, my pieces are open to interpretation. I want my audience to look beyond the pictures and delve into the less appealing reality that comes through, albeit in a visually, colourful manner. Perhaps this will lead to a greater awareness of our surroundings and the people around us.
What are the stand-out pieces in the exhibition? Can you talk us through one or two of them? In ‘The Hood’, a rapper is transposed from Central Park to a graffiti-heavy area in The Village, along with a beggar and a dustbin. These are all elements of urban life, but you don’t always see them together. The contrast of the down-and-out beggar with the toned rapper, both of whom might have come from similar backgrounds, points to the different results emanating from our individual choices. ‘Real People’ is a pop arty piece, in which cartoon caricatures and inanimate subjects meet the iconic Statue of Liberty in a colourful collage that touches on the shallow and superficial nature of today’s fast-paced world where objects have replaced the living.
Is there anything significant about the places you took the images? Many pieces in this particular exhibition focus on New York, where I spent the summer. There is no particular significance to the places except for one commonality, my subjects. The work, although slightly surreal, scratches at the underbelly of ‘real’ life, which is often at odds with the many pretty pictures we paint in our heads. I also tend to concentrate on the dichotomy that exists in every society.
Can you teach this technique to others or is it a guarded secret? I have no secrets about the technique. In fact, the video on my website (www.arthurdsouza.com) walks the viewer through the process. But anyone wishing to learn the process needs to have a working knowledge of screen angles and densities. Arthur D’Souza’s ‘Photo Synthesis’ exhibition will be held next month at the Alliance Francais at La Maison Jamsheer, Muharraq, from May 4-18. See www.arthurdsouza.com