"...putting the culture of
Muharraq at the forefront
in its time of regeneration."
“Ringing of Waves” a solo exhibition by Bahraini artist, Omar Al-Rashid at the Art Centre
last April showcased 60 artworks painted in oil or acrylic and nine handmade artist’s
Mostly in large format, the works echo the sounds of the olden days in Bahrain’s
northern island called Muharraq.
The title, “Ringing of Waves”, is the artist’s fond recollection of his childhood memory of
their residence in Busaiteen, Muharraq - a small village near the sea where the artist
could hear the sound of the waves in his home and almost everywhere in the
Residents would gather by the seashore to enjoy the breeze, entertaining themselves
with Arabic coffee and dates while children played nearby and domestic animals
Families lead by women supported each other in the absence of male members. They
would sit outside their homes as there were no air conditioners or they would sit under
the shadow of a famous locally grown tree called ‘Sedrah’ or ‘Kunar’ - painted by Omar
in a way to also mirror the Tree of Life, the legendary symbol of eternity in Bahrain. And
in order to up emphasis on the importance of people and the relationships in his
village at that time, the artist made sure to draw people at the center of his paintings.
Symbolism of colors and textures
At first glance from a distance, the composition of colorful expressive brushstrokes is
balanced by a striking space and as the viewer gets closer, an initiation of visual
consciousness occurs. The gestural use of line and distortion of figures and forms in
thick and thin paint, bright and dull colors, contrast and blending of shapes
demonstrate Omar’s Ab-Ex mastery.
Vivid colors in warm hues dominate majority of the paintings - reflective of the family
values and relationships in those days. Similarly, the harmony echoed the unity of the
society at that time when males would go on long journeys as pearl divers and leave
women and children behind.
The layers of different colors on top of each other look like topography accumulated on
the canvas over the year. The raised and rough texture on the paintings provided a
tangible feeling as in the surface and the layers of paint of old doors that signifies
The empty spaces and colorful areas are like quasi-landscapes - of empty lots or court
yards - before it was replaced by concrete and invaded by people - more like the
destruction of nature by urbanization.
“Ringing of Waves” took the viewers in a sentimental narrative of rural Muharraq, where
Omar Al-Rashid was successful in expressing his past experience of tradition and
culture through the personal form of representation that he has been long practicing
since his earlier exhibitions.
Nevertheless, you can see the artist’s maturity not only in his style but also in his
emotional response to his surroundings by putting the culture of Muharraq at the
forefront in its time of regeneration.
Additionally, on the opening day of the exhibition, Omar launched his coffee-table book
under the same title. The book consists of 131 pages showing artworks currently
being exhibited with text compiled by Fareed Ramadhan.
- Adel Al-Abbasi