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Art across borders...

Bahrain News
Mon, 18 Apr 2016
By Raji Unnikrishnan

Bahrain: Fifteen Bahraini artists will showcase their talents at the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design next month.

They are part of a major new initiative, Bahrain Art Across Borders (BAAB), which aims to provide an international platform for many emerging artists as well as present important new pieces by more established figures.

BAAB 2016 International Exhibition will hold its debut expo at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum on May 27.

Art works, on the theme “(Your) Expressions of Bahrain”, including calligraphy, sculpture, photography, photo collage and paintings in oil and acrylic will be displayed at the opening of the exhibition, which will later run for a week at a nearby gallery.

A collaborative project of Tamkeen and Art Select, Bahrain, the VIP opening of the first-of-its-kind initiative is expected to be attended by Tamkeen’s senior management including chief executive Ebrahim Janahi.

BAAB is the brainchild of Indian Kaneka Subberwal, a passionate art promoter.

“This is the first initiative under which Bahraini artists will be going abroad as one unit. The objective is to not only develop and promote Bahraini artists but also enhance their skills,” she told the GDN in an exclusive interview.

“BAAB belongs to these artists and it is under this umbrella that they are offered the opportunity to showcase their Bahraini identity to the world.

“Most of them have exhibited their talent locally, regionally and overseas, but BAAB will be the first time that they are putting up an exhibition as a group – as Bahrain.”


Three professionals handle BAAB officially – London-based Middle Eastern art specialist Janet Rady, Montclair State University, New Jersey art educationalist Palestinian-American Dr Aissa Deebi and educationalist, UK-based art journalist and writer Tim Cornwell.

“This has come about after eight-and-a-half years of persistent efforts,” said Ms Subberwal.

“Culture comes naturally to Bahrain – be it in the dress, food, homes or even the way Bahrainis interact.

“I believe in these artists and the more I studied the market I realised there was a need for them to bloom and be positioned at a deserving level.

“I could not have done it without Tamkeen, who supported my long-term vision and dream to set up a foundation to support the growth of the plethora of talents.

“BAAB is exactly this platform which will help them grow.”

A panel of judges of prominent artists, art consultants and related professionals in the field short-listed 17 artists, out of the 32 applicants who applied online in March.

“We kicked off with a photo shoot and are currently working on a catalogue, the profiling and imaging of the artists.

“We will choose three of each artist’s works and they will get to display at least two at the expo.”

Ms Subberwal, who is from New Delhi and a member of the Al Kabeer Group, a renowned food products’ brand in the Gulf, started her exhibitions
in Dubai.

“When I first went to Dubai in 2005 I wanted to do an exhibition different from the traditional gallery style.

“I hosted my first art show in the Nakheel Lounge of the Grand Hyatt hotel, which drew much criticism but today I am happy to see that many such hotel lounge exhibitions are taking place.


“I held art expos in Oman and Doha and then came to Bahrain in 2008, where I did my first expo at the Bahrain Arts Society.

“Soon I was doing an exhibition every three months in Bahrain, including eight shows at The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain.

“Nearly 200 people attended the first expo and we sold 17 pieces. My customers have remained constant ever since and it is this consistency which I found promising in Bahrain’s art facet.

“I found that as for art people outside had heard of only Dubai or Doha. This led me to do the Bahrain Arts Festival last year where I tried to bring the world to us to show what we have.

“And now, it is time for us to go to the world.

“BAAB in Arabic means ‘door’ and this is definitely the door for Bahraini art to cross the border and travel.”

A preview of these artists’ works will be held on May 9 at the Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay, where they will also announce the prices of their art works.

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