The highly-anticipated exhibition will kick off with a private launch reception at the Victoria and Albert Museum on Wednesday 25th May. The artwork will then be relocated to Gallery 8 in the heart of St. James’s, on 8 Duke Street, where it will stay for 9 days, from Friday 27th May to Saturday 4th June 2016.
BAAB is a significant new arts venture designed to showcase the Kingdom of Bahrain’s rich creative talent to an international audience and further promote cross-cultural dialogue, broaden artists’ horizons, and introduce art collectors and enthusiasts across the world to the “talents and vision” of Bahrain’s artists. The project is steered by Art Select (brand of Art and Spice), an international art investing and consultancy firm, in partnership with Tamkeen, a semi-government organisation contributing towards making Bahrain’s private sector the key driver of economic growth by providing financial, advisory and training support to Bahraini businesses and individuals.
The 17 artists range from veterans of the Bahraini art scene to early career artists who are venturing into international events for the first time and include Amina Al Abbasi, Balqees Fakhro, Ebrahim Busaad, Faika Al Hassan, Ghada Khunji, Ghassan Muhsin, Hamed Al-Bosta, Jamal Abdul Rahim, Lulwa Al Khalifa, Marwa Al Khalifa, Nabeela Al Khayer, Noof Alrefaei, Omar Al Rashid, Taiba Faraj, Sumaya Abdulghani, Mayasa Al Sowaidi and Mariam Fakhro. The artists specialise in many areas of the visual arts, from painting to sculpture and photography and their London portfolio reflects the strength, originality and tradition of the Bahraini identity.
Tamkeen’s Chief Executive Dr. Ebrahim Mohammed Janahi commented on the announcement: “Tamkeen works continuously to support Bahrainis across all stages of their development, with the ultimate aim of making the private sector the main engine for economic growth and development. To achieve this goal, Tamkeen works with various partners, locally, regionally, and internationally, in order to create a supportive environment that allows Bahraini businesses and individuals to grow and develop. Therefore it gives us great pleasure to be supporting a group of passionate Bahrainis who will be showcasing their unique talents and creativity. This group of extremely talented individuals, from established to early-career artists to veterans of the industry, have taken an important step in transcending local boundaries, and contributing further to fueling economic activity in this sector and opening the doors to the development of a sustainable arts industry for future generations.”
The work of 12 female artists among the 17 reflects the growing influence of an important group of women and also gives exposure to a few emerging talents who will be exhibiting along with new works from more established names.
The artists were selected by an international panel of expert judges including consultant Janet Rady, a London gallerist specialising in Contemporary Middle Eastern and Islamic Art; and artist, curator and lecturer Dr. Aissa Deebi. Submissions were motivated by Bahrain’s cultural identity, its land or seascape, its environment or its people and inspirations ranged from the Arabian horse and its historic place in traditional Arab culture, to ultra-sound scans, religious iconography, and the art of tea.
The selection gives new exposure to four ‘artists to watch’ along with more established names and also throws the spotlight on the work of 12 female artists among the 17, reflecting the growing influence of an important group of women.
Kaneka Subberwal, Founder of Art Select (a brand of Art and Spice), commented, “We have a high-calibre of artists shortlisted for the first BAAB exhibition in London and we are extremely proud and excited to showcase their extraordinary work which reflects Bahrain’s spirit, culture, people and landscapes in its various forms. The main criteria were strength and originality of composition and a sense of Bahraini identity being apparent in the work. The selection shows the diversity of artistic practices in Bahrain and the solidity of their artistic traditions”.
“The opportunities and exposure that the BAAB initiative will offer is instrumental in stimulating the local arts scene and turning the spotlight on to the multitude of talent we have in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Bahrain is one of the richest in the region in terms of history, culture and heritage and this is manifested through its creative minds who have done a tremendous job in profiling their country with the highest respect and admiration”, continued Kaneka Subberwal.
Gallery 8 is a newly refurbished gallery space housing prominent art talent and is situated in the heart of St James's, 8 Duke Street, St. James’s, London, SW1Y 6BN. The gallery is a stone’s throw from international auction houses Christie's and Sotheby's and a short walk from both Green Park and Piccadilly Circus tube stations.
BAAB London 2016 is the first in a planned series of annual international exhibitions showcasing Bahrain’s most talented artists.