By Afnan Linjawi
Art Bahrain Across Borders held a press conference and tour on the 18th of January to announce its upcoming gallery held between 22nd to the 26th of March.
Tamkeen Chief Operating Officer Amal Al-Kooheji said Tamkeen is responsible for empowering and developing the private sector in Bahrain.
“We have launched the project “Art Bahrain Across Borders” in September to empower Bahraini artists and give them a platform to display and sell their art. Tamkeen has appointed international art investment and consultancy firm Art Select (a brand of Art and Spice) to manage and execute the initiative which will be held in Bahrain from the 22nd to the 26th of March 2017 at the Bahrain International Exhibition & Convention Center. The event will be held under the patronage of Her Royal Highness Sheikha Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al-Khalifa,” said Al-Kooheji.
She added Tamkeen aims to position Bahrain as a prime hub for art and education in the future.
“Art Bahrain Across Borders is also a platform to highlight the excellence of local arts and to bridge the gap between local and global art communities. The exhibition held in March will provide a stage for learning, engagement and the exchange of ideas. It will host participants from Bahrain, as well as reputed names from the region and from across the world,” said Al-Kooheji.
She added Art Bahrain Across Borders will set up a pavilion exclusive to 30 Bahraini artists.
“The local artists will be selected by an international jury. Art Bahrain Across Borders will also have a Gallery Arena to host up to 35 international and Bahraini contributions. There will also be an International Artists Pavilion to display the works of participating artists from across the world,” said Al-Kooheji.
She added there will also be merchandises sold and talks given by artists.
“We don’t only focus on the artists but we also focus on the larger society. We want to spread awareness of the importance of the arts among the people. That’s why we make our admissions to our galleries and exhibitions free of charge,” said Al-Kooheji.
She also said Tamkeen is a pioneering initiative as it started 10 years ago when there were no other similar organizations in the Gulf.
“Our purpose is to provide for the Bahraini individual and Bahraini-based businesses the opportunity to achieve their own dreams and goals. We also have youth programs to empower and encourage up and coming artists. We want to change the perception of art as a simple hobby to a profession,” said Al-Kooheji.
Founder of Art Select Kaneka Subberwal said Tamkeen has contracted with Art Select as an arts consultancy agency to organize the events and exhibitions of Art Bahrain Across Borders.
“We are extremely proud to be playing an integral part in the realization of this ambitious project and supporting Tamkeen to drive its vision forward. Without doubt, Art Bahrain Across Borders will leave a positive imprint in Bahrain’s art sector and help local artists embed themselves within the international arts community and gain recognition,” said Subberwal.
She added the current exhibition features 63 Bahraini artists.
“We went through a process of elimination on the Bahraini artists’ submission based on a criteria set by international art exhibition curators. We were also aiming to create an art market. We enabled artists to come to the exhibition and talk face to face with their potential buyers,” said Subberwal.
She added the artist community in Bahrain is not isolated from the global artists community. Bahraini artists are part and parcel of the global art scene.
Bahraini painter and sculptor Jamal Abdulrahim said he is very proud to be one of the oldest Bahraini artists.
“I work with many mediums and showcase my art all over the world. When I sculpt, I listen to the stones. The stone tells me that it is beautiful. All I have to do is find its beauty. Being an artist is a state of mind more than an ability. Once you know how to use one form of art, you can expand to other forms of art as well,” said Abdulrahim.
He added being a Bahraini artist does not exclude us from the rest of the world.
“We are a part of the global movement of arts. We are closely connected with the Egyptian civilization, the Indian civilization and the Iraqi civilization,” said Abdulrahim.
The Bahraini artist Shaikha Lulwa Al-Khalifa said it is quite easy to be an artist in Bahrain.
“People don’t believe me when I say this but there is not much that you cannot do in Bahrain as an artist. The only limitations there are, are your own. What Tamkeen and Art Select are doing is very important. The galleries they organize showcase our work and connect us to the world,” said Al-Khalifa.
She added the Bahraini people were very supportive of previous art exhibitions done in Bahrain.
“The last art exhibition held was packed with visitors. There were people from all ages and from various backgrounds. The exhibition was very welcoming and it wasn’t exclusive and pretentious,” said Al-Khalifa.
Balgees Fakhrou, a Bahraini abstract artist, said being an artist in Bahrain is like being an artist anywhere around the world.
“It is always a struggle to be an artist. I specialize in abstract art and abstract art is universal. Abstract art is like visual music. My art expresses my own feelings. It does not reflect a unique culture of mine or a unique identity. It simply represents me and my feelings,” said Fakhrou.
She added the reaction of the Bahraini society to art is just like the relationship of any society to art, there are always people that appreciate art.