Alriwaq Art Space Vantage Art Display
The word ‘vantage’ means ‘to have a point of view’ and living in Bahrain’s diverse community, it is impossible not to find various opinions on a single topic. The differences in opinion, combined with art as a means of expression, has resulted in seven female artists from Bahrain displaying their beliefs and religious journeys in the Vantage exhibition. The aptly named exhibit focuses around the idea of individual viewpoints of each of the artists and how they try to answer the question: “what defines us as Muslims?”. Opening on April 12 at Al Riwaq Art Space in Adliya, the exhibition will be on display till May 7 and is even listed in the annual Bahrain Spring of Culture programme.
The exhibition will feature work by both established and emerging artists:
Ghada Khunji, Hala Yateem, Mariam Al-Arab, Stephanie Ravel, Somaya Abdulghani, Tamara S. Al-Pachachi and Waheeda Malullah. Bayan Al Barak Kanoo, owner of Al Riwaq Art Space along with Camille Zakharia, prominent Arab artist, have jointly given valuable advice to the artists in this group exhibition.
French photographer and convert to Islam Stephanie Ravel had posed the question-in-debate to a group of female artists. As the artists tried to answer these questions, they discovered each of them had a distinct response to the rest. Understandably so, as they all come from different walks of life and though religion is a common thread amongst them, the women realised they were all at various stages in their religious journeys.
The process of coming to a conclusion about themselves for each of the artists turned out to be somewhat challenging and forced them to reflect upon their faiths. The result of that was that not only did these women push their own artistic boundaries, but it also gave birth to Vantage. The artwork on display is a clear indication of the various relationships and religious stages of each artist. The artworks translate an intimate and universal perspective triggering a spiritual conversation with the audience as well as serving as a representation of Muslim women universally.
The rich exhibit consists of religion juxtaposed with how the artists understand, and relate it to their individual struggles. The journey of the exhibition Vantage itself proved to be spiritually evolving for these women as they explored art and themselves through numerous meetings and discussions. Through this exhibition, art and spirituality are seen as one entity and mediums such as photomontage, collage and mixed media are used to express that.
Vantage will also allow attendees to speak with the artists about their work once the exhibition is on display.
Though the seven female artists behind the Vantage art exhibition all share the common idea of using art as a means of expressing their standpoint and understanding of Islam, they use different media to do so. Thus, revealing a slight insight into the kind of woman each of the artist’s is. The impressive individuals tell us a little bit about themselves, revealing what makes them all unique:
The Bahraini artist who specialises in collage, photography and mixed media, aims to introduce the theological and philosophical beauty of Islam to her audience. Attempting to mirror nature’s simplicity, she strives to educate the viewers by developing delicate, rhythmic and organic patterns in her art. The enlightening nature of the religion acts as a strong propellant in her art and practice. Sumaya believes in the shared values present across various religions such as morality and purity and is interested in developing that concept.
Questioning whether or not the threads of knoweldge are being woven in the right direction, the artist’s work for the exhibition is inspired by Surah Al Alaq. The Surah calls for the use of research, reading, writing and documenting. It is an invitation for knowledge and has led to the artist creating her pieces using these threads to put across her point of view.
Mariam Al arab
The self-taught photographer started working in 2012 and is a master of documentary and travel photography, she also recently added photomontage to her list of skills. With a deep interest in religion, culture and issues that shape the world, Mariam embarked on the artistic journey to answer the question of what defines and drives Muslims as individuals or as a society. Upon being called to partake in this exhibition, Mariam went through feeling both excited and scared of where her journey would take her. Her artwork is a reflection of an inner and outer search within her community to answer the primary question which has inspired the exhibition. Acknowledging that art is subjective, some might like her work and others not so much, but the important element is that it is thought provoking and it raises questions.
Though she does not consider herself an artist, she has always had a deep appreciation for art, using it to express her creativity. In her work on display she hopes to convey the message of Islam being a peaceful religion and that Jihad – fight for Islam – starts within ourselves. She found inspiration to use art as a medium, especially photo collage, after a class taken with Camille Zakharia in 2012. Primarily using photo collage as a medium to express herself, Hala says she also enjoys working with her hands in the initial parts of her creative process when she is cutting and pasting to create patterns. To the onlooker, the art created may seem effortless, but for Hala sometimes it could take several months as she is not a full-time artist, and also takes time to carefully think about what she wants to express and how. Once the idea is there, though, the process flows smoothly but still requires a lot of time. Hala firmly believes art is a medium that transcends all nationalities and races and allows for a message to be spread softly, sometimes without even having to say anything at all, for artists have always been part of bringing about change – even if it takes time. She is open to criticism of her work as she understands that not everyone has the same taste due to their different backgrounds and upbringing. In fact, through constructive criticism of each others works, the seven artists have helped each other evolve.
Having lived both in Bahrain and abroad, Ghada has been lucky enough to be exposed to the multitude of nationalities, cultures and religion that comprise the great big world. It was upon returning back to Bahrain after 25 years, that Ghada was introduced to the concepts of Middle Eastern art and artists and also the societal awareness, leading to the scrutiny of her own art. After the self-questioning process, Ghada concluded that all regions, all art and almost everything comes from one source: light. To create everything else, this pure source is merely manipulated.
Accomplished in the medium of documentary, Ghada has chosen to use paint as a means to put forward a reflection of herself and the world that she encompasses. Through her art she is not only exploring her vantage point on Islam but also how the mind has become accustomed to certain symbols, that whatever is on the surface is overlooked. The layering process that is involved in painting has not only made Ghada realise how difficult painting is, but made her appreciate it as a medium too. Ghada feels she is ready to expose her identity as a human, as a woman, and as a Muslim. Her work is not only her point of view, but also a menagerie of moments, thoughts, fears and experiences that have ushered her along.
With photography as her preferred medium, the French artist calls it the “mirror with a memory”, using it to help her remember all the places she’s been and the people she has met. Also finding profound richness in sounds, she is very sensitive to the daily sonorities of Bahrain: a bulbul singing, the call for prayer, wind in the leaves. This also led to her attachment to videography. It all started when Stephanie started to question her role in society and her responsibilities as a citizen of the world. What inspired her to start was living daily alongside people of different faiths and customs. The need to comprehend what she was witnessing and the changes within her led her to her artistic expedition.
Stephanie’s art piece, “i-Islam” is a self documentary of the intimacy of a path, the whispered dialogue of a personal discovery of Islam through means of photos, digital collages and video. Firstly, her “apprenticeship” of the rituals and her dependence on mobile phone Islamic applications for guidance and recitation of the Qur’an. It also documents the steps through the Islamic precepts discovered during conversations. Finally, the camera captures the surge of freedom and ease found within the faith.
Stephanie wants viewers to look at her work and question themselves about the certitudes he/she may have and perhaps have a different answer on certain subjects before passing it by and going on with their life. Her artwork aims to create dialogue among those who view it.
Tamara S. Al Pachachi
Spending a majority of her first ever monthly allowance, while away at university in the United Kingdom, on a Point-and-Shoot Nikon camera, Tamara was perhaps destined to be a photographer. With art being such an important part of her life, even her souvenirs from her parents’ Barcelona trip in 2004 were art books and a vibrant Spanish painting of a bullfighter. Her push into the industry came from her own visit to Barcelona and partaking in the Metafora experience.
With her active imagination and love for art, Tamara has created pieces for the Vantage art exhibition revolving around the themes of Humanity, Emotion, Culture, and Texture. The more abstract works resonate the irony and brevity of life; wherein beauty and vulgarity coexist, sometimes even in the same instant. At the exhibit, Tamara’s work focuses on the physical and spiritual act of prayer, a direct link to God and the universe, and the act of giving oneself to a higher power.
Tamara believes art can change perspectives, increase exposure to issues that surround us, trigger emotions and heighten empathy, as well as enhance the energy of a space by just being present there.
Not just a photographer, she is also a mother, writer and artist as well and regards herself as a humanitarian who hopes to contribute positively to the world.
The award-winning artist has been exhibiting her work proudly for years across Europe and the Arab countries. She has had exhibitions in England, Egypt, France, Holland, Dubai and of course also in Bahrain. Waheeda has never shied away from participating in various art exhibitions, displaying her work in the likes of “Light From the Middle East: New Photography” exhibition (2012-2013), “25 Years of Arab Creativity” (2012-2013), and “Woman on the Verge” (2012), among many others. Holding a degree in Graphic Design, Waheeda graduated from the Regional Institute for Advertising and Marketing in Bahrain. Waheeda is an expert visual artist who works with multiple media, focusing on photography and video. In January 2013, Waheeda won first prize, the Al Dana Prize, at Bahrain’s 39th Annual Fine Arts Exhibition. The renowned artist’s works can be found in the collections of Institut Du Monde Arabe in Paris, France and in the British Museum.
Information about Vantage Exhibition:
Venue: Al Riwaq Art Space
Opening: April 12 – May 7, 2015
For more information:
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