Exploring the rites of passage that they went through from youth to adulthood, four young Bahraini artists have showcased their latest pieces in the Application 001 art exhibition at Al Riwaq Art Space.
Ali Hussain, Ishaq Madan, Shaikha Al Salman, and Hisham Sharif recently completed their residency at Al Riwaq in its Application 001 programme and as their final bodies of work, explored religious and cultural traditions associated with coming of age.
“This exhibition features the final works from our pilot residency program, which we launched last year,” Al Riwaq education head William Wells explained.
“The art residency programme offered individual studio space to the participating artists, to work on a project that deviates from their normal practice.
“While it was a place to work individually, it was also a communal place to share ideas. And rather than working on a common theme, the commonality was present in the intimate and personal approach in producing the work.”
Bahraini visual artist Shaikha focused on her return to Bahrain after completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts from the San Francisco Art Institute.
In her video piece entitled ‘The Promise of Gathering’, the 26-year-old explored the “economy of love and labour at the intersection of service and giving” that she would witness during her weekly trips to her grandmother’s house.
“I am Bahraini but I grew up outside of the kingdom,” Shaikha told GulfWeekly.
“Ever since I came back, I have been fascinated by these experiences and images, especially within my family. I wanted to explore the Friday gathering and it started to evolve into a discussion about the feelings of familiarity and comfort that come with these gatherings.”
Ishaq decided to explore the idea of marriage through a photograph recreating the Arnolfini Portrait painted by Jan van Eyck in 1434.
The homage titled ‘Until Debt Tears Us Apart’ unpacks symbolism found in the original work and sets it in parallel to Ishaq’s personal views on relationships.
“My photograph positions marriage and love to be consumed by capitalistic desires weighing down on the bride and groom,” the 30-year-old added.
“Debt and its overarching and dominant nature often takes centre stage in matrimony, poisoning the virtuousness of love branching through societal pressures and familial intervention.
“I decided to stick with photography because that is the art form I am most familiar with, but found ways to integrate symbolism from the original painting into motifs within my photograph.”
Award-winning painter Hisham decided to showcase some of his doodles and diary entries alongside work that dissects the structure of space time.
He uses abstracted light to reflect on inner emotion, while concrete light colours remain a curtain of illusion.
Moving between daily scenes and heritage, his pieces stand out for the exploration not just of the theme of ‘rites of passage’ but his self-analysis of his process.
“I have come to be more direct and personal with my work,” the 29-year-old added.
“These pieces are very different from my previous works because of that. Lately, there have been a lot of marriages recently so I wanted to explore the different kinds – from segregated ones to mixed weddings.”
Artist and theatrical scenographer Ali did an art installation with a hanging pencil which drew abstract lines on an open book.
The piece is titled Everything Is Going to be Alright.
“With these words I deceive myself, in the face of reality to forget the turbulence of this moment, and postpone it to another time,” the 35-year-old added.
“This is my remedy, and with this daily rhythm, which I consider a sedative for pain, I dose, twice a day, after meals of despair.
“Turning the non-tangible daily state into a tangible state, my art installation serves as an electro gram of the heart or as a Richter scale, utilising the tools around me to measure the extent of the melancholy of the day.”
The exhibition runs until March 28 and is open from Saturday to Thursday from 10am to 8pm.
For more details, follow @alriwaq, @shaikhadiaries, @ishaqmadan, @hishamsharif_ and @ali4art on Instagram.