COVID-19 and Cultural Life in Bahrain

COVID-19 and Cultural Life in Bahrain

COVID-19 and Cultural Life in Bahrain

With the movement of people limited; museums, theatres, and heritage sites have all been halted due to the crises that struck the cultural life and tourism industry. COVID-19 took the whole world by surprise. No one was prepared for the crisis and thoughts of when will it end lingers on every single person’s mind.

We, as human beings, share this issue with all individuals across the world. As an artist, field exhibitions, events, and performances are either canceled or postponed. In order to keep the creative spirit alive, intensive efforts to provide alternatives through digital platforms are visible. In the case of Bahraini artists, we have maintained a positive attitude and proactively participate in online events that allow us to continue exchanging ideas and convey our creativity between each other and to the online presence.

Additionally, art has been keeping us all motivated and alive. visuals, tangible items of all shapes and sizes, and our everyday creations empower us to overcome this void that has been left due to the COVID-19. With the assistance of art, we can feel limitless, even during the lockdown. After all, we are vulnerable individuals that suffered from sudden detachment from our daily routines.

Yet, I still consider this period a golden phase for artistic and creative production in general, for I am one who took advantage of this period of creativity and as the writer, Daniel Carnegie says ‘the ideas of a positive man do not end, and the negative however has no end to his excuses.’ An example of this is seen through one of Picasso’s most influential pieces that he drew in only in black and white. It was a result of what happened in the village of Guernica after the extermination of 2,000 people and the destruction of an entire village.

Like the Ying-Yang philosophy, this issue can be viewed through the same lenses. Due to the cancelation of most social events and postponed deadlines, artists can now dedicate a considerable amount of time to further discover themselves. Related to Picasso’s art, this enables them to push their limits by stepping out of their comfort zones and attempt different types of art and all forms of artistic expressions.

Schopenhauer says, that ‘The less one has to have contact with others, the better for him.’  Personally, I could not agree more. By having less contact with the outside world and more time to myself, I was able to become more productive. Adding all those tiny details on my artwork, writing articles, and reading all of the books left unread on the shelves for months.

I was also able to further my understanding of many topics all thanks to the unity and compassionate academic world. Universities and organizations started to offer unlimited workshops and courses for free. I was able to widen my scope of understanding in topics such as history, world affairs, art, and heritage. It is very fascinating to see how every sector played a role in combating the results caused by the pandemic. Another factor that also played a significant role in social media. This pandemic has almost eradicated all communication with society, even with family members, but social media has played a significant role in giving us this tool to remain connected despite these circumstances.

To Heal the World (15 June-18 August 2020) is one of many virtual exhibitions that I recently participated in—it is an international online artistic reflection on mending the damage to our global family (https://www.oncaravan.org/tohealtheworld). Another art exhibition arranged by  the US Embassy in Bahrain is in collaboration with Bahrain Arts society, and titled “Creativity in the Age of Corona virus exhibition.” Also, social media played a vital role in spreading art during this period @makan.artgallery is another virtual art exhibition where I exhibit three artworks.

 Instagram @mayasa205

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Mayasa Sultan Al Sowaidi is a self-taught artist from the Kingdom of Bahrain. She earned a BS degree in Mathematics from the University of Bahrain and an MBA from the New York Institute of Technology. With a background in mathematics, balance and order are important components of her artistic practice. Al Sowaidi is a member of the Bahrain Art Society and has participated in numerous exhibitions in Bahrain, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Cyprus, Dubai, and Oman.  She has been recognized with numerous other prizes and awards. 

I’ve Grown Roses in this Garden of Mine

I’ve Grown Roses in this Garden of Mine

I’ve Grown Roses in this Garden of Mine

I’ve grown roses in this garden of mine takes its title from Gabrielle Goliath’s latest work This song is for…, a cycle of dedication songs chosen by survivors of rape, that evokes for audiences a sensory world of memory and feeling. This work sets the framework for a wider exploration of processes of healing from multiple geographies and generations.

The exhibition reflects Goodman Gallery’s long-standing commitment to artists whose practices confront entrenched power structures and champion social change. It is anchored by seminal works by major contemporary artists: Ghada Amer, El Anatsui, Broomberg & Chanarin, David Goldblatt, Alfredo Jaar, William Kentridge, Shirin Neshat, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Mikhael Subotzky, Carrie Mae Weems and Sue Williamson.

A new generation of international artists originating from Africa and the Middle East are introduced to UK and European audiences, including Kudzanai Chiurai, Nolan Oswald Dennis, Gabrielle Goliath, Haroon Gunn-Salie, Grada Kilomba, Gerhard Marx, Misheck Masamvu and Naama Tsabar. Many of these artists address postcolonial contexts by placing emphasis on personal experience and ‘alternative’ approaches to healing while rejecting the possibility of being cured.

Kudzanai-Violet Hwami An evening in Mazowe, 2019 Oil on canvas – Work: 180 x 130 cm

A number of featured works use language as a lens to confront wounding experiences of ‘othering’. Whereas Kudzanai Chiurai perceives language as a silencing, colonizing tool, Grada Kilomba embraces words as a means of owning the narrative.

Alfredo Jaar and Shirin Neshat also treat language as a valuable tool, believing in the power of words to connect people and, in the case of Jaar’s text-based neons, to inspire empathy with the demonized ‘other’. Neshat’s meticulous hand-written Arabic inscriptions overlaid onto portraits of Iranian and Arab youth poignantly link contemporary Iran with its mythical and historical past.

Broomberg & Chanarin’s recent series Bandage the Knife not the Wound layers photographic images, using deconstructed cardboard packing boxes as the printed surface to play with contemporary ideas around image overload. The piece selected for the exhibition is a homage to the South African landscape merged with an image of a man taking his pulse. It is displayed unframed with perforated folds exposed, lending the work a frail, bodily quality.

In her experimental practice, Naama Tsabar invests in the power of charged everyday materials as subversive tools for transformative thinking, challenging oppressive gender roles.

Ghada Amer’s explicit embroideries use a needle and thread as radical tools of seduction, creating obscured pornographic forms that transform this traditional ‘women’s craft’.

Ghada Amer -WHITE GIRLS, 2017 -Acrylic,embroidery and gel medium on canvas Work: 162.6 x 182.9 cm

 

Racial bias in contemporary America and apartheid South Africa is exposed in the photographic works of Carrie Mae Weems and David Goldblatt respectively. Mikhael Subotzky expands on this interrogative approach by deconstructing colonial maps and piecing them back together using sticky-tape, which appear like plasters over a battered image. Using a distinct visual language of ‘folds’, ‘collapses’ and ‘entanglements’, Gerhard Marx also works with reconfiguring fragments of decommisioned maps, working to shift perception and disrupt hierarchies.

Yinka Shonibare’s famous ‘African print’ sculptures convey the hybrid nature of cultural identities, challenging an ‘essential’ visual language that is assumed to be African. Also embracing fragmentation to create iconic large-scale works, El Anatsui uses discarded materials to reveal the ongoing effects of colonialism on consumption and the environment. Here thousands of tightly stitched together bottle tops form grand glistening metallic tapestries and become a tool for radical transformation.

Yinka Shonibare CBE – Planets in my Head, Young Navigator, 2019

The exhibition presents as yet unseen work in the UK by Paris-based artist Kapwani Kiwanga and digital healer Tabita Rezaire who have recently produced significant projects at London institutions. Both artists address the exhibition concept by uncovering African narratives of healing.

Kiwanga engages with methods of colonial resistance taken up during Tanzania’s Maji Maji war (1905-1907) – one of the first major uprisings on the African continent – by highlighting the rallying impact of traditional healer Kinjeketile and comments on how this has been ethnographically documented in Europe’s museums.

Kapwani Kiwanga – Rumours that Maji was a lie…, 2014 Mixed-media installation -Variable Dimensions
Photo: Romain Darnaud / Jeu de Paume

Through a lens of uncompromising self-care, Rezaire lays out the insidious histories of systemic social prejudice and uses ancient African technologies to restore physical and spiritual health with an emphasis on elevating women of colour. Kudzanai-Violet Hwami’s vivid paintings draws on digital representations of Diasporic black bodies to ask questions around colonial routes, displacement and spirituality.

Works by artists Misheck Masamvu and Nolan Oswald Dennis highlight  a layered web of post-colonial wounds through distinct abstract visual languages. Masamvu’s pioneering approach to oil paint-on-canvas combines German Expressionism with visual commentary on the Zimbabwean context, lulling audiences into a sense of familiarity in order to evoke a surprising sense of discomfort. Dennis’s site-specific approach to exploring ‘a black consciousness of space’ brings diagrams and drawings together to unveil hidden narratives of oppression alongside healing technological and spiritual systems in view of reconfiguring the limits of our social and political imagination.

My wounds will never ever heal completely, and I grow them (I have grown roses in this garden of mine). I care with much tenderness for this little corner of myself, because I know there is no cure, there are but ‘remedies’ taken in small doses to alleviate the symptoms of this silent wound.  

A woman who chooses to withhold her name, in Gabrielle Goliath’s, This song is for…, 2019

Miguel Chevalier Digital Supernova at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez

Miguel Chevalier Digital Supernova at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez

Miguel Chevalier <i>Digital Supernova</i> at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez

Chevalier will be exhibiting a new  generative virtual reality installation. Thirty different colored networks of light, combine with beautiful pictures explosions of massive stars and supernova remnant, develop one after the other. For this monumental creation between art and science, Miguel Chevalier worked with astrophysicist Fabio Acero, a specialist in supernova remnant to create a virtual reality projection that brings viewers outside of their reality and transcend the walls of the church to the projected astral heavens above. 

In part with the Siècle Soulages, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez will present the large-scale art installation of renowned digital artist— Miguel Chevalier. The exhibition titled Digital Supernova, will be on view from August 8-18 on the vaults, ogives, and transepts of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez in Rodez, France— an exhibition from a larger program of events celebrating 100 years of the artist Pierre Soulages. Chevalier previously showed another installation Pixels Noir in April at the Soulages Museum as another event of this program.

The installation combines not only Chevalier’s recognizable generative realities and light networks but also brings viewers into this virtual world through the music of Jacopo Baboni Schilingi, Adam Bernadac, and for the opening — Frédéric Deschamps. A long collaborator, Schilingi has worked hand in hand on  numerous installs by Chevalier. Combining visual visions and fantasies with music audiences are brought into the seemingly endless astral realms of Chevalier’ universe in the gothic structures of the cathedral.

Installation View of Digital Supernova at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez.

Enthusiasts of Chevalier may find Digital Supernova reminiscent of his 2015 installations  Complex Meshes and Dear World… Yours, Cambridge installation in Durham Cathedral and King’s College Chapel in England. It seems Chevalier, following his theme of expansion and generation developed the original idea further in this upcoming presentation. Viewers be in awe of the astral projections and then find themselves noticing the intricacies of Chevalier’s displays with the light networks they are projected through— adding complexity and depth.

Chevalier has long been influenced by patterns, networks, and systems that reveal themselves through nature. This is evident through installations such as Extra-Natural and Trans-Nature. Arguably most representative of this theme could be Fractal Flowers a giant virtual garden that evolves to ad infinitum. Chevalier refers to this work as a garden which show his constant reflection and reference back to nature. This balance between nature and computer generation are what give Chevalier his distinct aspect of  surrealism. Showing us the realities and systems of nature through computer generation, Chevalier acts as a figurative translator. His works are able to serve as evidence of reality explaining these systems and fundamentally meta. Digital Supernova shows us the extents to Chevaliers interests in nature and generative worlds on a new,  astronomic level . 

Digital Supernova
August 8-18, 2019
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez, Rodez, France

Carlos W. Desrosiers:  The Experience, an immersive exhibition in Paris

Carlos W. Desrosiers:  The Experience, an immersive exhibition in Paris

Carlos W. Desrosiers:  The Experience, an immersive exhibition in Paris

“When a piece is done, it always feels like a complete song to me.
There is no more instruments, notes, or tones needed.“

 

Carlos W. Desrosiers’ upcoming exhibition from June 23 to July 31 at VOS Paris challenges the status quo of exhibiting art on limited formulated canvas. The American self-taught artist from New York presents The Experience, revealing his original 9 paintings from his “What you see” The collection splashing out from their core basis and becoming materially alive in the entire space.  

 

 

Liberated from its frame, the vitality of the painting invades the room on various supports, which results in an augmented viewing experience. Like independent phenomenons emerging from the original work of his paintings, his ‘Figures’ take up space on the windows or walls. Fragments are hanged to the ceiling, while three-dimensional sculptural unities become autonomous living organisms. The jumping off point art piece multiplies itself through an explosion into other lives in the exhibition.

Through an organic body of work of installations, photographs, signed multiples, or prints, the artist cultivates his aesthetic of vibrant colors surge. He incorporates writings and natural elements as energies that assist the work in the creative process.

The exhibition is accompanied by music as a means to awaken awareness for the vibrations of the art. The artist becomes aware of the completion of the work when it resonates wholly, as both music and art can touch a higher frequency. The colors tones he applies frenetically, like music notes dancing on the drawings, interact with what is true to the soul, and trigger all the senses.  

On the main original canvas, the thick layers of paint are the essence of his “panning technique”, a process usually associated with audio recording. Infinitely adjustable and rotative, his works exceed the fixed gaze and suggest an expansive view and endless possibilities of interpretations.

 

 

The Experience is thus incredibly immersive and takes the individual into the heart of the latter’s self universe. Moving forms devoid of a figurative depiction, his collection of paintings morphs depending on what resonates to the viewer’s subconscious. Carlos W. Desrosiers is adamant about knowing what people perceive in his abstract landscapes, unfolding what is beyond our past and life experiences. He always seeks to manifest a different reality with innovative perspectives, and to truly engage with the everyday curious onlooker, stating that his work is “a clear mirror of self for the observer.”

Carlos W. Desrosiers’ artistic expression hinges indeed upon this notion of movement and collective subconscious. His genius resides in his creative power and spiritual overview, his belief that every object of the world possesses innate wisdom. Before considering himself as an artist 6 years ago, he had an inner desire to transfer his knowledge of the mind and “the esoteric and healing power of men” into a tangible way to awaken humanity.

 

 

Very passionate about all healing techniques including Taoism, self-development, and kinesiology, he was impacted from a young age by the “healing world” as his father is a naturopathic doctor. His thirst for knowledge, the consciousness of his self-awakening paved the way for the discovery of his real duty as an artist, and each crafted piece revealed him new techniques.

When first meditating on art history, he felt an immediate connection with Jackson Pollock’s artistic splattering as an intuitively free and uncontrollable process. What Carlos W. Desrosiers calls his “subconscious reprogramming” techniques takes on form in the painting act through losing control of his hands, leaving the physical element and unlocking his hidden potential.

 

“Beautiful images emerge out of the erratic and out of the chaos”

 

 

 

With parents coming from Haiti to America, Carlos W. Desrosiers was born in New York City in 1988. While not having an economically privileged background, Desrosiers worked at a golf course for 12 years only to later be emerged into the world of Rap music as an A&R manager at the age of 17. Developing a strong rapport with artist and working on different projects and albums, Desrosiers quickly became a key component to artists and their recording process. He has been evolving in the highest spheres of the Rap/Trap music industry, being very close to top renowned artists like Rihanna, Travis Scott, and Migos.

He created in 2012 his first body of art still in progress named “What You See Collection Private Experience”  including over 20 artworks exhibited at Art Basel Miami and at The Fearless Artist Art Basel Pop Up Gallery in December 2015. His “Living abstract” body of artworks and murals were shown in Lower East Side Manhattan, New York City in February 2016.

 

The Experience by Carlos W. Desrosiers
From 23 June to 31 July 2019
VOS Paris
21 avenue Kleber 75016 Paris

Mayasa Al Sowaidi : Revisiting the essence of Tea

Mayasa Al Sowaidi : Revisiting the essence of Tea

Mayasa Al Sowaidi : Revisiting the essence of Tea

Bringing together historical narratives of the West and the Middle East and to demonstrate the cultural richness of Bahrain, Mayasa Al Sowaidi will be presenting her series Art of Tea”  in collaboration with Corinne Timsit Art Advisory (CT2A). More than 20 artworks will be exhibited in this exploration of the theme of tea, its transcendence and essence through its transformation as a tool for artistic creation and expression.

Mayasa Al Sowaidi builds metaphorical bridges between the art of ceremonial tea-tasting and aesthetical and visual art. Artifact of everyday life, tea is nevertheless one of the most fundamental products of globalization, historically significant and culturally important as a ritual experience, also spiritual, creating social unity.

“Tea is a drink of rich heritage. Just as a collage relies on the recycling of used materials, so the tea leaves were given another chance at immortality, by affixing them onto a canvas for us to taste in another form, to sip art differently.”

Like papyrus or parchments, the tea leaves are fully integrated on the eroded canvas, colored in imitation of the brewing water. Tea bags are covered by recurring motifs of static birds anchored on branches, or keys and locks images. They reveal themselves as symbols of freedom to reach in our materialistic world of over-consumption, as human beings or ‘non-beings’ reduced to numbers.

Mayasa Al Sowaidi had also been part of the Bahrain Art Week 2018 at the Grand Palais, showcasing many artists of the Bahrain art scene, growing with emerging talents and artistic energy. Far from misconceptions, the important position of women artists in Bahrain is not new, regarding the cultural and unique specificity of the island country globally renowned for its natural pearl production. While men went fishing for months to find pearls, the country’s responsibility was left to the female population who still hold today a great power in the society.  

Not solely a self-taught painter, Mayasa Al Sowaidi also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Bahrain and is currently completing her doctorate – with her research paper focusing on emotional intelligence – at the Management School of Grenoble, France.

The artist explores in her artistic practice since 2005 her own freedom of expression and creativity, and the notions of harmony, balance, and order as components of her apparent fragile collages. Her pieces reflect her skills as a writer as well as that of an artist, each telling a unique story.

 

 

 

The continuously blooming Contemporary African Art auction results

The continuously blooming Contemporary African Art auction results

The continuously blooming Contemporary African Art auction results

The global art market is essentially characterized today by geographical regions, countries or continents. In that perspective, African art gaining momentum is reflected in the latest Sotheby’s London art sales of their new 2017 department on modern and contemporary African art. Already showcased worldwide in dedicated art fairs, exhibitions, foundations or museums, the contemporary African art scene is indisputably a hotbed of major talents. The most famous names under the spotlight are El Anatsui, Hassan El Glaoui, Skunder Boghossian, Ibrahim El Salahi, Ablade Glover, and Cheri Samba. With some entering auctions for the first time, they exceeded the price expectations, establishing new auction records for 11 artists. Congolese Cheri Samba’s painting “J’aime la couleur” from 2005 estimated around  £40,000-60,000 resulted in a £93,750 – $122,344 auction selling.

As expected, Ghana with the famous sculptural installation artist El Anatsui ranked at the top,  with the bottle tops tapestry  Zebra Crossing 2sold for about $1.5 million.

The works of the most recent and nonetheless swiftly growing artists like Congolese Eddy Kamuanga Ilunga are sought to become more and more in demand, and the current estimated prices are thus unlikely to remain the same.

Eddy Kamuanga -Illunga Palm

Morocco and Ethiopia’s art heritage are introduced with the paintings of Hassan El Glaoui “La sortie du Roi” and Alexander Skunder Boghossian “Harvest Scrolls”, the countries’ aiming to be the heart of Africa’s art, giving their national artists new platforms.

Nigeria, South Africa as major players already thrive through their own fine art auction houses, and through their artists’ international renown in the past years. (Nigerian artists like J.D. Okhai Ojeikere, Ben Enwonwu, Uzo Egonu were sold at the auctions)

The past sales by Bonhams had shown immense promise, but the London April 2 sales of over 75 lots are a testimony of a stratospheric rise, demonstrating the continuous chain effect for long-time celebrated masters but most importantly for young and booming contemporary artists. While native African collectors represented the majority of the buyers by far, Western collectors as well have shown a surge of interest for the important investment opportunities that the sales’ total of $3 million foreshadows. The interest from wealthy collectors and art institutions like Sotheby’s is influential in assessing once again that the African art market has a positive future and a global audience.