Jamal Abdul Rahim, a prolific artist, hosted an exhibition on 14 February at Dar Al Funoon gallery. Known for his talent with color and different art forms, the versatile artist showcased a variety of beautiful artworks from calligraphic abstracts to sculptures.
Mr. Rahim is one of Bahrain’s most established contemporary artists with many awards to his name including the First Prize in Mini Print Internationals in Spain and Argentina (2005) as well as a repertoire of exhibitions organized in galleries across international and Middle Eastern countries. His works are also held in private and public collections; most notable the Asian Civilizations Museum in Singapore. Adept at print-making, painting and sculpturing, his exhibition boasts a diverse play of techniques and combinations that convey a vision drawn from an understanding of Arab civilization, its mythology, religion, heritage and language.
His mastery as a draftsman has also motivated him to present his etchings or paintings as original books, and at the exhibition, guests were impressed with an original piece - a handmade art book, titled ‘Roba'eyat Al Khayyam’, which contains the translated work of Bahraini poet Ibrahim Al Arrayedh.
Speaking to The Times Kuwait in an exclusive interview, Mr. Rahim discussed many aspects of his artistic life and his creative process. “I am always in the mood to work on art projects,” he said, professing his passion for his craft, “When I wake up in the morning, I am ready to create! This is my life and I love what I do. I am very happy with my work.”
He believes that artists can find their subject matter everywhere and in anything, elaborating, “There are so many areas where artists can derive positive influences, the movement of society gives me many ideas to incorporate into my art pieces.”
“I also use whatever is going on in the news and other details I find interesting,” he added.
The artist’s eye-catching art pieces highlight wide contrast, particularly when calligraphic abstracts are paired with stone and bronze sculptures at his exhibition.
Touching on the theme of his original abstract screen prints where Arabic calligraphy was accentuated with bold colors, he said of the displays, “These artworks are food for the mind and for the people to read about the language of great poets from the region and history. However, I try to work my own language into the piece.”
He explained that he wanted to create his own language while taking inspiration from the past, but show something new.
Continuing on the line of thought of artists using their origins for inspiration and its significance, he said, “If you want to do some great work, you must have a strong base and techniques. You must learn new tricks and seek to find your own artistic language, mold your own personal culture and view. Having an identity is important!”
He shifts focus as to why the Middle East is a source for artistic stimulation, saying, “I am inspired by our history as the East is very rich in jewels of heritage and culture, an amazing treasure, you just have to explore its vastness for the right subject and it fires your imagination.”
In response to a question about the various manifestations of his culture depicted in his art pieces, he explains, “My art says so many things about the Middle East, particularly my type of use of strong colors and contrasting imagery that is derived from the eastern worlds' influence. Most of my art pieces are reminiscent of the great art and cultural works in the country. My handmade art book, ‘Roba'eyat Al Khayyam’ features Bahraini poet Ibrahim Al Arrayedh."
Delving into his chosen topics and favorite techniques, he reveals that he creates whatever thoughts that enter his mind through various techniques. "I prefer to constantly change according to my creative mode and it has kept my life interesting. I truly feel alive working with different techniques, because they are my way of expressing myself and my pieces are like my children," He said.
He concluded the interview with an observation of the Kuwaiti art scene. “I think the art scene in Kuwait is very comparable to the artistic growth in the whole Gulf where all artists support each other and everybody can complement the other for a stronger community,” He said.
— Christina Pinto