by RABI’AH M.
“Blending a variety of colours, art forms, concepts and remaining loyal to his Bahraini origins, Bahraini artist Sheikh Rashid Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa showcased his “In Parallel” art exhibition at the Bait Al Muzna Gallery, Oman. He talks to Rabi’ah. M about his anticipations, the role of an artist in the society and much more.”
When Bahraini artist and royalty Sheikh Rashid Bin Khalifa Al Khalifa debuted his art exhibition “In Parallel” at the Bait Al Muzna Gallery in Oman; he wanted to attract and connect with the Omani audience. The art exhibition took place from March to April 2019 at the inspiring Bait Al Muzna- a gallery owned by Sayyida Susan Al Said. The official opening took place on 17th March by Sheikh Rashid and Sayyid Azzan Bin Kais Al Said, with a warm welcome and a positive reaction from the audience attending. Amongst the special guests were Sheikha Mai Al Khalifa, Sheikha Hala Al Khalifa, Sayyida Hujaija Al Said and many others. The ambience was perfectly set and backed by the musical tunes of Omani violinist Musafir Al Sinani who entertained the audience with his East meets West music.
Expressing his fondness for Oman and its rich cultural heritage, the artist explains: “Showcasing my work at the Bait Al Muzna was a memorable experience. I wanted to highlight the bond and connection that Bahrain has with Oman through the works which were exhibited.”
As an artist, he narrates his daily working life tends to contradict with his life as an artist in various manners. It is thanks to the experiences he gained through his work which influence or inspire his artwork. Describing their parallel relationship since he undertakes a variety of responsibilities which all contribute to his knowledge and learning and overall are illustrated in his artistic work.
Choosing the title “In Parallel” was challenging for him along with Yasmin Sharabi, the curator who worked with him searching for different titles which best illustrated the concept of the exhibition. At the heart of this exhibition is a selection of Sheikh Rashid’s works from different eras of his artistic career despite their differing styles they are inherent of very similar emotion. He emphasizes the use of the expression “In Parallel”: “Such an expression implies there are two things which have a connection and almost move at the same speed. I may have painted a certain impressionistic landscape of Bahrain during the 80’s and 20 years later, painted something which symbolized the identical landscape or my memory of it.”
For Sheikh Rashid, the best part of being an artist comes down to the appreciation he has towards creativity: “It enables me to consider things from varied angles which acts as a guiding force in all aspects of life. Also, it assists me in considering alternatives when a task is presented.” The depth of knowledge which provides an artist with unrestricted choice is another aspect he admires. When asked what kind of work does, he enjoys the most, he replies: “I love designing new work and considering and working with challenging and surprising materials to express myself. I’m fascinated by architecture and design and enjoy combining this with my awareness of tradition and heritage.” In order to keep oneself motivated, Sheikh Rashid attempts to create new work and develop my concepts as often as he can even though he has a hectic schedule. Regarding the habits which help or obstruct creativity, he explains it comes down to the person: “Habits can be very beneficial for some creative people because they ensure dedication, structure and good work ethic. Once you know you have deadlines because that’s part of a habit, you’re more likely to work towards those deadlines. However, this doesn’t necessarily work for every creative person — each to his own.”
Being an artist is not exempt from its own set of challenges and the responsibility it carries within the society. Sheikh Rashid emphasizes the role of an artist is pivotal in delivering an important message to society. He has been an active supporter of the arts in Bahrain: “I truly believe that arts and culture have a significant role as any other industry in society. It needs to be encouraged since artists create change, growth and promote new methods of thinking.” His own work always touches on heritage, culture and tradition, even if it is indirectly, which has sparked his interest in the natural landscape, Bahrain’s environment and traditional forms of architecture.
His journey as an artist has been an interesting one which has undergone various stages, each one of these stages is interconnected; especially the colours, the subtleness in selecting the finishing and the materials which are merged with them. The Oman experience is a new leaf in Sheikh Rashid’s artistic career; the purpose of In Parallel was to bridge the present and past. This art exhibition is a bouquet of beautiful flowers which is depicted in the variety of styles, art forms and genres which illustrate the depth of emotions and state of mind yet maintaining their relevance to its Bahraini roots.