Critic's Pick - October
A New Perspective

Bahrain National Museum

April 11 - July 1,  2010
About Shaikh Rashid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa

Rashid Al Khalifa’s artistic career is a testament to his creative maturity. Having
practiced as an artist in Bahrain for over forty years, he has progressed through varying styles; beginning in the 1960s with a focus on landscape painting, moving on to more figurative work in the 1980s, and finally towards abstraction in the early 1990s. The natural development of his work has enabled the entirety of his oeuvre to materialise as an enlightening and fascinating collection.

This exhibition presents us with a glimpse into an extremely diverse body of work, yet one that maintains a sense of unity despite its diversity. Regardless of his progressively abstract style, the atmospheric and mysterious essence that this collection conveys remains constant throughout.

Rashid’s artistic career has been as experimental as it has been progressive. And it is
because of his experimental nature as well as his deep interest in design, that in the late
1990s, he stumbled upon something subtle, yet so effective.

The formula was simple: the canvas was stretched by approximately 25
degrees. The result was powerful: a convex canvas that engages the viewer and
simultaneously allows light, colour and texture to rest harmoniously on its surface.

Rashid has painted directly onto these canvases since the year 2000. And so, within
this exhibition, we will also witness the development of the convex canvas since its
conception. We will observe how it has become a necessary tool used to enhance
Rashid’s increasingly abstract imagery; a device that enables his paintings to be seen in
a different ‘light’.

In the words of Rashid Al Khalifa, the convex canvas offers the viewer, “a new

However a thought-provoking solo exhibition by one of the most innovative and influential artists of the Kingdom of Bahrain, Shaikh Rashid bin Khalifa Al Khalifa brings to life an extraordinary atmosphere and lasting significance of fine arts created by a Bahraini.

Entitled ‘Convex: A New Perspective’ at the Bahrain National Museum surveys Shaikh Rashid’s exceptional ensemble of works from 2002-2010.

Over 50 works hang against black walls with dramatic lighting, designed by the artist himself, begins with an opening room that showcase a juxtaposition of his most recent work of incandescently lacquer finished enamel service, moves backward to Abstract Colour Field and then proceeds to the second floor that goes back in time to its chronological antecedents.

The relationship and complexity of the first-round of works (2002-2009) to the sophisticated Minimalist (2010) reductions and knowingness is a dualist picture of modern art emerged - where the modern and the contemporary meaningfully address each other.

This series’ narrative on his progression shows all the elements of his artistic arsenal and how he has recapitulated the history of his works; from landscapes to figurative, to two-dimensional fragmented modernism.

Paintings created in 2002-2008 sustain the conceptual duality of the Abstract Colour Field and Ab Ex, liberating unpredictable forms from layers of oil paint. They have a refined style and a language of colour out of the impulses of modern abstraction. His fascination and desire for firm horizontal and vertical flicks of the brush create an experience of seeing even while you sense its proximate, looming presence. They exhibit a labour-intensive technique of accretion and abrasion on multiple coats of paint with brushes or palette knives, sanding and scraping through the dry surface to reveal countless passages of underlying, contrasting colour.

At his best, Shaikh Rashid developed a visual vocabulary that is more intuitive than read. His art is a hermetic playground of glowing colours. They dazzle visually as a flicker in yellow that seems to hover in a field of blue that deepens from turquoise to intense ultramarine; the transparent yet deep violet brushstrokes on top remain, changing perceptually in response to the underlying colour. The field of colours in a translucent mix of orange, blue, red and purple at irregular intervals creates traces of poignant gesture amid the sensuous forms. The delicate lines, the flashes of pure, saturated colour and the careful balance of form and void is a metaphor for the elusive nature of perception and the quest for underlying unity in the chaos of existence.

Works painted in 2009 clearly demonstrate his process as much as his controls. Sweeps and sluices of eye-candy colour with blends of flecked, blazing paint applied with an expressionist touch gives a more painterly surface. Flamingo pinks, sunshine yellows, perverse lavenders, emerald to pastelish greens engender an undeniably physical grip on otherwise neutral ideas and intangible suspicions. The effect is one of intimacy with spontaneous creativity - Shaikh Rashid’s symbiosis with the medium. The lushness of these paintings is the allure which seems to have a lot to do with its potential to gratify.

Shaikh Rashid undoubtedly stemmed in part from his earlier works’ eclecticism - a ready evidence of his non-stop creativity. During the last quarter of 2009 (completed in early 2010), he created a series of incandescently lacquer finished enamel service in near-monochrome paintings that are among the most majestic, haunting, voluptuous and vulnerable of his career.

On a black background (either lacquered aluminium or canvas) the paintings puts the viewer in the realm of the unknown, of double vision and oddity. Liquid lines like syrup are dripped enamel in a fast motion that slightly fluctuates, spins and being sucked to itself. The illusionism is embodied in the formal arrangements of colour and line like exoskeletal creatures of folded space.

These paintings embody complexities and contradictions but its brilliant natural effects resolve themselves in colour planes of black which occupy deep pictorial space that shows an imagination that works in non-imaginative ways.

The zones of colour - in black, red and white - each distinct unto itself, flow in incipient and sympathetic co-ordination with each other which makes the malleability of space palpable.

Soaked canvas in red or white pigment and black impasto spread across the work’s surface is the alchemical ingredient that fuse painting and sculpture at an area of black shiny enamel. The smeared and carefully dribbled enamel form images that appear to congeal before the viewer’s eyes demands concentration and exudes enigma, and seem made to elicit a very different response. They allow us to see an artist creating works of physical power that defines his very artistic identity born equally of coolness and distance as of devotion and intimacy.

We live in an art-historical moment in which the creative canon has been expanded to infinity, comprising of anything and everything, to let every comer in.  We live in a period especially here in the Gulf where the exercise of aesthetic judgment has been ruled a thing of the past or a matter of weak personal taste without any common cultural and educational basis.
The exhibition also demonstrates how the size and the convex-shape identify his search for intimacy with the canvas - visually intense, physical and materially alive - they create their individual conceptual orbits which enables the viewer to participate in an individual painter-beholder experience.

Visionary as his art proved to be, Shaikh Rashid is also widely recognised in the community as an arts advocate, collector and patron. This exhibition is a major celebration heralding his vision on the future of Bahraini arts and its connection to the contemporary art scene in the GCC region where the proliferation of art galleries, museums and art fairs has become the norm. His aim is to acknowledge the increasing significance of private patronage and c­onvey its role to the public as well as give new impetus to the promotion of contemporary art.
Shaikh Rashid has been exploring life through paint for more than 40 years in a non-dialectical relationship from Landscapes to Figurative, Realism, Two-dimensional to Abstract Colour Field. He had solo exhibitions in Bahrain, France, Switzerland, the US (Miami and Washington), Italy and Jordan. This is his third solo in Bahrain and has participated in collective exhibitions in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East.

A not-to-be-missed exhibition,  ‘Convex: A new perspective’ at the Bahrain National Museum will run until 11 July 2010.
- Maria Vivero

Opening hours:
Sat, Sun & Tue: 8am-2pm
Wed & Thu: 8am-2pm & 4pm-8pm
Fri: 3pm-8pm

Address: Al Fatih Highway Manama, Kingdom of Bahrain
Tel: +973 17 292 977

Entrance: FREE

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October 2010

National Higher Diploma in Arts and Design, Britain


·2010 Bahrain National Musem
·1997 Art Department, Shuman Arts Organization Jordan
·1996 De Caliet Gallery, Milan Italy
·1996 El Kato Kayyel Gallery, Milan Italy
·1982 Middle East Institute, Washington, D.C USA
·1982 Sheraton Hotel Bahrain
·1970 Dilmun Hotel Bahrain


·2007 Bahrain Contemporary Art -Unesco Paris
·2005 Modern Art Exhibition Organized by the by the Royal Ireland, College of Surgeons of Ireland in Dublin
·2004 Duo show with Balqees Fakhro -Berlin Germany; Annual Art Exhibition 32- Bahrain National Museum Bahrain
·2002 Bahraini Culture Week- Amman Jordan; Bahraini Culture Week -Peking China
·1999 Taipei Art Exhibition Taiwan; Sharjah Intl. Art Biennial UAE; Bahrain - Delmun Exhibition Paris
·1998 Bahrain Arts Society Exhibition, Gallery Alexander Leodoux France
·1997 Art Expo Singapore; Art America Exhibition, Miami USA; Europe Art Festival, Geneva Switzerland; Bahrain Arts Society Exhibition, Cannes France
·1996 Europe Art Festival, Geneva Switzerland; Bahrain Artists Exhibition Rome; Sharjah Biennial Exhibition UAE
·1995 Joint Exhibition with Abbas Al-Mousawi, Hotel Du Switzerland, Rond, Geneva; Joint Exhibition at the UN Center, Lusanne Switzerland
·1989 Bahrain art Society Exhibition Cairo
·1988 Festival of Asian Artists Malaysia; New Art Center Iraq
·1986 First GCC Art Exhibition Japan
·1985 Cairo Biennial Exhibition Cairo; Alia Center Jordan
·1984 Bahraini Artists, Leighton House England; Salon des Artists Francises, Grand Palais Paris
·1981 Raffles Hotel Singapore
·1978 Hilton Hotel Bahrain
·1975 Gulf Hotel Bahrain
·1973 Periodic GCC Youth Exhibition
·1972 College of Arts Exhibition England
·1969 First Art Exhibition held at the Gulf Hotel Bahrain

·1991 GCC Golden Palm Award Doha
·1989 GCC Dana Award Kuwait