Finding her voice through means of art, budding artist Zainab Al Aali’s explores various media to showcase the inner workings of her artistic mind
Art is loosely described as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination”, whether it is a painting, a photograph, a sculpture, or even multimedia, the world of art is so grand that it encompasses a wide spectrum of means that showcase creative expression. For aspiring contemporary multimedia artist, Zainab Al Aali, art is her way of not only expressing her emotions, but also a means for her to reflect upon her Bahraini heritage and combine the two elements to create truly unique and personalized pieces, of which have also been a part of the CoLab Art Exhibition in January 2017 taking place in Malja art gallery. Zainab spoke to Perle Magazine about what inspired to delve into the world of art and how it is has helped shape her perception of her background and surroundings and resulted in her seeing art in everywhere she goes.
What do you mean when you describe yourself as a ‘multimedia artist’?
I use various types of media and techniques to portray my visual ideas, for example, I use methods such as sculpting, I paint, and I take pictures as well. Being a contemporary artist also means that the art I create is not confined to a single definition or message – it is open to interpretation.
What inspired you to start the journey to becoming an artist?
I started studying art during my high school years, and for me art has always been a medium that calms me down and it is something that I do, not only for myself, but also for others. To me, the world is always better with art.
As an artist, what are some of the things you draw inspiration from?
I am inspired by my surroundings more than anything, and for my IB art, the sea and the island itself inspired me. Bahrain is such a charming island, there is so much to be inspired by and I always find inspiration around me, though my friends and family, A lot of my friends are artists or study art so I always pick up ideas from them and develop them into my own. I am also inspired by a lot of different artists and I take their styles into consideration and try to make it my own. In addition to being inspired by my surroundings and culture, I am very drawn to the human body. I feel there is so much beauty within us that we don’t get to see it and I just want to represent that beauty.
What was one of the first pieces that you worked on?
My early work, I find, was quite morose, and that stemmed from the stress I was dealing due to school and I was channeled all my stress into my art, and so one of the first themes I worked on for my pieces was “Wrecked”. Everything was broken, and it represented emotional wreck as well as physical wreckage, and a piece I designed based off the idea “over thinking will ruin you”.
How do you feel your style has changed and evolved over time?
Three years ago, I got introduced to artist Jackson Pollock by my art teacher at school, and he became one of my major inspirations and that is when I decided I really enjoy doing abstract art more than I enjoy doing realistic or any other types of art, as abstract art allows me more freedom. I also love the element of surprise that abstract art brings.
What are some of the art exhibitions you have taken part in?
So far, I have only taken part in the Malja CoLab Exhibition that took place in January 2017, it was part of the CoLab project, which was a result of blind collaborations between writers and artists and what that means is that the artist had never met the writer and vice versa, but still had to create an art piece inspired by their writing. I decided to go really outside the box and make a sculptor because it was something that I had never done before. I wanted to use wax as it was a medium I had not used before, and it turned out successful. The poem I was given to work with, was about stress – a genre I had previously already worked on and thus making it easier for me to explore it further using a different medium. Though the poem was about stress and how everything you do in life comes with stress, I find that something good can still result from it. I decided to have flowers as the “natural element” because stress is natural, and I decided to make a face with wax to represent the person was melting, and I tried to show that even though stress is a negative element, it can also result in something good – you are melting yourself to produce something beautiful.
What projects are you currently working on?
Currently I am very drawn to the medium of wax and I have been using it a lot in my pieces. I am experimenting with that and the last piece I worked on is a representation of a human heart with wax dripping all over it and its in different colours. I made the heart using mud rock – its like papier-mâché and it dries faster.
Being a young artist do you find it challenging?
Yes, because no one takes you seriously, not because of lack of talent but due to the lack in experience. However, the art scene in Bahrain is growing and there are many new young artists are emerging that are getting recognition, and there are many exhibitions and many opportunities for artists on the Island now. People don’t tend to consider art as a career choice, even though art is a way of communication and release. Many people in general do not take artists seriously; sometimes they even look down on artists and their career. Also being a student and balancing university work with art is still a time management problem that I am still getting used to. Taking part in exhibitions does help and when you see an opportunity, and even if you are hesitant and whether they may or may not accept you, just go for it!
What message would you like to give to young aspiring artists like yourself?
I think you should find inspiration in everything around you. Even if you don’t know how to draw, you can always find an art category that you can belong to. I find it frustrating when people say they “don’t understand art”!
In the future, what other art media would you like to explore to create your pieces?
Although I really enjoy working with acrylic paint, wax and ink, I would also like to start using oil paints, because I’ve never used it before. I also really want to try realistic drawing because part of me feels like I want to do it just to try it out. Spray painting is another medium I would want to look into, like graffiti art.
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