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Sixteen local and regional artists have encapsulated their personal experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic into 26 stunning art pieces, now on display at the University of Bahrain (UoB).
The exhibition, Personal Journeys During Social Distancing, is being organised by creative platform Windows of Amal and runs until this evening at the university’s main administration building.
“We started this initiative in August 2020, when we were all indoors and I found myself looking out a window imagining a brighter future – which is where the idea for this exhibition came about,” UoB assistant professor Noora Alghatam, who is the founder of Windows of Amal, told GulfWeekly.
“We had an international team including UK-based Nancy Cardigan and Bahrain-based Ella Prakash who helped us curate the selection for this exhibition. We will be having another exhibition next week, called Expressions.
“The purpose of this platform is to highlight creatives who have made the region their home at some point, and to elevate their international status.”
Of the 16 artists, approximately half call Bahrain home. Bahraini artist Nayla Ali Khalifa, 26, who is currently completing her Master’s degree in Applied English Linguistics, has taken a deeper look at relationships, both internal and external, for her piece.
Her first piece, Reconstruction, is an introspective self-portrait in which she visually portrays how the pandemic gave her an opportunity to look inward.
“And my second piece, which I am extremely happy with, depicts two hands tightly gripping one another, while wearing transparent protective gloves,” Nayla added, pointing out some of the details of the painting, titled Intimacy.
“It is based on an image of me and my mother holding hands. During the pandemic, even though we lived in the same house, I was always worried that I may pass the virus onto her.
“Despite the pandemic and its restrictions, we still found ways to be close to the ones we care about. At the end of the day, we are social creatures and cannot live without intimacy. This is what I wanted to show through these images.”
Bahrain-based Filipino expatriate Jie Refugio focused on the societal impact of the pandemic in two sketches created with charcoal.
The grey and dark colours are reminiscent of the gloomy period during which pandemic restrictions were in full effect, but each work, upon closer inspection, offers a glimmer of hope.
When It Rains is based on a photograph taken by Jie’s friend in Malaysia, depicting a girl holding prayer beads in the rain.
“This painting is based on the popular saying, ‘When it rains, it pours,’ but it is also about the rainbow that comes after the rainfall,” Jie, 43, explained.
“Common to all my work is the empty darkness that surrounds figures, which stand, alone, against the black. My drawings are both hyper-real and surreal. In composition, I am influenced by mythology and return often to images of archetypes to evoke a momentary recognition.”
Jie’s second piece The Shield depicts Bahrain’s cityscape housed within a transparent bubble surrounded by an icon that has become symbolic of the Covid-19 virus, against a dark background, broken by rays of hope peeking through.
The exhibition is open today from 9am to 1pm and from 4pm to 6pm.
For more details, follow @windows.of.amal on Instagram.