Art in Bahrain
One of my big regrets in life is that I’m not a connoisseur of fine art. I envy the likes of Brian Sewell, who lisps his way through his TV and radio commentaries on art with that curious retro accent that went out of fashion thirty years ago. I may not be an aesthete, but I am a fan. I lapped up Kenneth Clarke’s Civilisation TV series in the seventies. I head for galleries whenever I’m in a city like Florence or Venice. When in London, I pay regular visits to the National Portrait Gallery, because I love portraiture – especially some of the renaissance artists like Durer, who so expertly capture the cunning, the mean and the ruthless spirit of the age. And the Florentines, masters of portraying realpolitik.
One of the joys of living in the Middle East is that there is no shortage of art and artists. Elegant calligraphy, Ottoman miniatures and geometric motifs in the Islamic tradition, a thriving community of Arabic cartoonists, and the figurative and abstract works of present-day local and expatriate artists. Not to mention some magnificent architecture, both new and old.
Here in Bahrain, the Bahrain Arts Society provides a platform for Bahrainis and and foreigners alike. A couple of weeks ago they displayed the works of Mohsen Ghareeb and Abdulshaheed Khamdan. Both artists draw on the influences of traditional Islamic art, particularly Arabic calligraphy, to produce striking abstract paintings.
Last week it was the turn of Meriel Cooper Wallace and Michele Karam. Meriel paints mainly in watercolour and in this exhibition portrays the natural world. Michele is a ceramicist who draws heavily on oriental influences. The exhibition was a feast for the eye.
Not being an art critic, I’m unable to wax lyrical on this or that technique. But if you happen to be in Bahrain in the next few days, do visit Meriel’s and Michele’s exhibition at the Society of Arts Gallery in Budayia. I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.