Street art in Bahrain

Street artist Huvil on how Bahrain galleries are embracing graffiti

"The challenge is getting people to like what graffiti is,” explains Bahraini street artist Huvil, AKA Mahmood. On a conservative island steeped in its own artistic traditions it has not always been easy, he tells us. “It is something new for the culture and new for the country. How can I make them like it and appreciate it? This is a really hard job to do. Whenever there is something new, people usually get afraid,” adds the man now recognised as one of Bahrain’s best street artists.

Overcoming cultural boundaries and being part of an entirely new art scene is one thing, but the physical act of painting was just as tricky in the early years. Having to import paint from Saudi Arabia and going up against the island heat are all part of the struggle. “How to survive under the sun of our humid country is a challenge,” says Huvil, who is also an air traffic controller by day.

Despite all this, though, Huvil’s work and street art in general are gaining legitimate footholds in the region’s art world. He’s been a collaborator on a Guinness World Record-winning project in Dubai, worked with Red Bull, been involved in gallery exhibitions and even completed corporate commissions for firms such as Batelco, gradually seeing a more mainstream embrace of graffiti in Bahrain.

In particular, his highlights have been working with international inspirations, such as Portuguese artist Odeith, and being paid to paint in general, but it’s simply the love of graffiti that’s strong at the heart of his approach to street art.

“You need to develop your skills and be creative,” Huvil advises a next generation of street artists. “If we think of graffiti as a business, it is not going to be as nice as art. It is a way of developing a message to the community”.

See more of Huvil’s artworks at www.instagram.com/huvil.

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