artBahrain in conversation with Faika Al Hassan
We’d shared many short conversations over cups of tea in the past but none of them touched the subject of art. We’d indulged in conversations about fashion, travel and food, but never really about art. And speaking of travel, last week she just returned from London to confirm the schedule of her coming solo exhibition and we finally talked about her art.
Bahrain has a strong history in the visual arts and continues to produce distinct artists with each succeeding generation. As with everyplace, a few artists somehow escape the stylistic circle of their area and find an authentic voice for themselves.
Faika Al Hassan is one such artist. She graduated with a degree in economics in 1977 at Baghdad University in Iraq. The following year she got married and started a family. 25 years old and pregnant, she decided to take up private painting lessons under an American artist who was currently teaching at the Bahrain Art Society. From the time she held the paint brush, she never stopped painting.
In the beginning of her training she started with still life until she connected with the sublime landscape of Bahrain. Over the years Faika followed her own course, often quite distinct from those of her contemporaries. She actively participated in various group shows in the country and abroad representing Bahrain which eventually landed her first solo show at Albareh Art Gallery in 2007.
In 2010, her solo show at Bin Mater House, Bahrain proved to be very successful. Entitled “Cities of the Universe” she presented a series of work preoccupied with little things – interplay between small people in an abstract urbanscape that is replete with references to European urban paintings – her art has gone universal.
Faika conceptualizes small urbanscapes and create a scene on large scale canvas capturing a sense of movement, solitude, and in some they depict the beauty of a random scene. Like a metaphorical space in which the small people wander in search of a revelatory experience and perhaps this is where the melodrama comes from, the fact that the urbanscape has become a stage – like fictional narrative that parallels the pleasures and doubts often experienced in the act of painting. These urbanscapes traveled to Dubai, Damascus, Madrid, Luxemburg and Brussels.
She is ever so proud of her exhibitions abroad not because they were solos but because she had the opportunity to represent Bahrain and its people, most specially the women.
Faika explains, “People abroad who are not familiar with Bahrain are very much surprised to learn about the artists’ freedom to express ourselves on canvas without inhibitions- specially the women.”
When asked if she will consider pursuing other forms of art other than painting – like installation – in the future, she replied, “Maybe. Artist should be opened minded. We should be able to try other art forms and discover more of our individuality. This is the sign that the artist is an explorer, determined to bring up new forms and bear broader ideas.”
This coming November, Faika Al Hassan once again will delight art lovers with her urbanscapes and little people at Albareh Art Gallery. The exhibition sets out to justify the artist’s works’ as a vessel for self-projection – allowing them to be reachable or indefinite, creating fiction and city narrative where Faika succeeds at creating beguiling and engaging worlds.
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