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Pretty portraits of leading personalities

August 8 - 14, 2018

Gulf Weekly Mai Al Khatib-Camille
By Mai Al Khatib-Camille

Gulf Weekly Pretty portraits of leading personalities

Art lovers from across the kingdom are flocking to Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH) to admire Zahra Al Ahmed’s portrait pieces that are paying tribute to royalty, athletes and actors from around the world.

The exhibition, entitled Imprint, boasts 14 hand-sketched and painted images of prominent figures in history namely of His Highness Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and Queen Elizabeth as well as celebrities including Morgan Freeman and football stars such as Cristiano Ronaldo.

“I called the exhibition Imprint because it features pictures of people that have touched or moved the world and community in some shape or form whether artistically, politically or socially and they also will act as role models for generations to come,” said the private school art teacher living in the quaint village of Buri.

Zahra, 33, was motivated by their accomplishments and their personalities. She challenged her artistic skills by attempting to capture every one of their features to-a-tee.

“I find that my portraits are different than other art pieces as it’s mostly drawn and coloured in using wood pencils with touches of acrylic here and there,” she explained. “This is also my first solo exhibition in which I am featuring large canvases as I’m used to drawing smaller ones. They are all one size, 80cmx110cm, and are priced starting from BD300.

“Morgan Freeman was my first portrait and it was a challenge mastering his look as he has such distinctive features.

“I painted Queen Elizabeth because I admire her poise and elegance and I also featured Palestinian teenager Ahed Tamimi for her strength, passion and voice for the younger generation.”

Her colourful collection, which took a year to complete using pan pastels, wood colours, acrylics and glass colours, is on display at Harbour Gate’s south ground floor entrance within the Bahrain Financial Harbour (BFH) and is open to the public until the beginning of next month.

Zahra was thrilled that the exhibition was inaugurated by HE Ali bin Saleh Al Saleh, Chairman of the Shura Council, who was delighted by her depictions and snapped up the portrait of the prime minister for BD1,000.

“Launching this exhibition was an indescribable feeling,” added the mother-of-three. “It means a lot to me and I am pleased that many people are enjoying it.”

According to Zahra, she has been an artist since she could hold a pencil in her hand. She grew up in a household filled with creative minds including her brother Mossa and sister Eman, both artists as well.

“My aunt Zahra Al Marhoon is also a visual artist,” she said. “Although her style is diametrically different from mine, I have always been spurred on by her ability to turn ideas on their heads, just to get a different view. My brother and sister have also shaped my world and helped me learn and grow as an artist. I am happy to make them proud.”

As a youngster, the self-taught visual artist dreamt of showcasing her works at several exhibitions and launching a career in the industry. She graduated with a degree in Bachelor of Art Education from the University of Bahrain and became a teacher.

She has since then created an extensive portfolio of realistic graphite, charcoal, pastel, oil painting and coloured pencil drawings depicting mostly human portraits and figures. She also won several awards at local and international art exhibitions.

“Creating art has become one of the biggest joys of my life,” she explained. “I thrive on that feeling of urgency and excitement that I get when the creative juices start flowing through my brain and urge me to pick up a pencil or a brush and just have fun with it.

“I have been continuously trying to challenge myself in finding new ways to combine different types of media. In present times, there is an unprecedented array of media available, creating an opportunity for me to push the envelope of visual expression.

“I occasionally turn my graphite, charcoal, pastel, coloured pencil drawings or mixed painting materials by seamlessly incorporating them on papers, to enhancing aesthetic appreciation, I use a variety of painting materials, such as oil painting and water painting, as well as an assorted variety of canvas and textures.”

Zahra also teaches a number of classes and workshops all over the kingdom.  “It’s such a cool experience to get out of the studio to share and develop painting concepts with students from all over the Bahrain”, Zahra said. “We are all on this journey together from the most novice painter to the greatest technician; everyone brings something new and unique to the table in the form of new questions to be answered.”

Aside from Harbour’s Gate, her works-of-art can be found on Instagram @zahraartist or on www.zahraartist.com and she accepts commissions for people, single or group portrait drawings or oil paintings.

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