Review - February
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February 2011

Al Riwaq Revitalising
Art Community
Everyone cognizant of the openings and events taking place in the kingdom that Al Riwaq,  Adliya’s powerhouse art space run by Bayan Kanoo, kicked off its 13th year in business with a print workshop conducted by visiting renowned Iraqi artist Rafa Al Nasiri.

Print Workshop

The impromptu workshop was held at the Bahrain Contemporary Art Centre and was attended by invited professional and amateur Bahraini artists in cooperation with the Bahrain Art Society and the Bahrain Contemporary Art Centre.

According to Al Nasiri, “Bahrain has the best artists in the GCC region. There are a lot of good talents waiting for an opportunity to do something special.”
Al Nasiri’s intervention provided a transformative educational experience in graphic arts as he encouraged the participants to explore and experiment with a different art form.

“Given the limited time (one week) and
humble materials, the 10 participants managed to produce exceptional work. It was a good start with promises of opportunity for the art community,”he added. The workshop was not just about printmaking, it was also about considerations of subjectivity and identity. The weeklong bonding yielded a fundamental turn away from the fictional stability of their art production and offered more creative alternatives.

Graphic Exhibition

The highlight of the print workshop is the Graphic exhibition at Al Riwaq Art Space which opened on 16 January and of course, the presence of Shaikh Rashid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa yields one of the most delightful moments in the exhibition.

Under his patronage, this show broke down barriers both institutional and generational. The collaboration of the two art associations, the Bahrain Art Society and the Bahrain Contemporary Art Centre and the participation of one of Bahrain’s first generation artist, Abdul Karim Al Orrayed down to the new generation, engender a sense of the art community taking part ina project -not simply for show but as a living facet of Bahrain’s art history.

The exhibition was the culmination of the print workshop by Rafa Al Nasiri. It broadened the definition of printmaking and encompassed the use of printed matter in combined-media works. Several of the pieces even challenge the traditional notion of prints as multiples. Overall, the assimilation of prints and printmaking into a wide variety of contemporary art practices confirms the continuous significance and versatility of graphics as a medium.
Market 338

Al Riwaq initiates another growing trend: Market 338 - more like a gallery weekend - in the streets of Adliya-throughout spring.

According to Bayan Kanoo, chairman of the event, "this idea came from Shaikh Rashid a few years ago, he said he could visualise an art marché along this street."

Market 338 is surrounded by restaurants so it does have the civic advantage of luring art and crafts buyers to Block 338. As this venue give Bahraini artists and designers a change to promote their work, the formula includes extending opening hours into the evening and adding traditional elements like the falcon, coffee and dates as well as adding live musical performance and DJs to augment the festival character of the market.

Beyond the success of Market 338, contemporary art no longer seems to intimidate the public, while being more in tune with the present era - that art has the capacity to reveal a town to its own inhabitants while involving public participation and establishing the identity of the neighbourhood.

About Al Riwaq

Alriwaq is a leading establishment in Bahrain's art and cultural scene. It is a non-profit space supporting contempoarry art practice and encouraging youth's creativity.

Since its founding in 1998, the gallery’s vision has been to promote creativity and art value, providing the artists and the public with a platform to exchange ideas, provoke intellectual debate, promote, inspire and develop creative thinking and nurture cultural production.

The gallery promotes its mission by nurturing a strong relationship between art and society through its programs. In order to encourage public awareness and appreciation of visual arts, Al Riwaq hosts local and international group exhibitions, workshops, talks and debates, film screenings and meetings for the art communities and patrons.

Al Riwaq works to encourage and develop talent and creativity by hosting workshops held by well established artists and artist residencies exchanged with world renowned institutions. Al Riwaq's programs aid in the development of artistic practices and careers while promoting a respect for disciplines and stressing versatility and diversity.
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