Tag Archives art

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks

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Tom Hanks doesn’t much act in his movies and is not type-cast. He is just a naturally good human being! That’s the simple fact, and his writing completely confirms this too.

As I read his stories in Uncommon Type, I was almost urging him to put in some drama at this point, or do a plot twist there, to no avail though, as the stories are just “nice”, and some would say rather bland.

We’re trained to expect and demand drama in fiction and that’s what’s dished out to us. However, reading beyond that expectation in the first two or three stories, I find myself accepting that yes, the world indeed has more good than bad, and people are naturally kind. By then, I was cringing whenever I came across a cuss word – sparingly used through his text as they are – I actually felt that he was compelled to use them to show some form or “badness”. I’m happy to say that even with those, he can’t be, not with his kind and trusting nature.

Later on by the fifth or sixth story, the pace was picking up, and my realization that no earth-shattering drama is about to happen, made me relax even more. That relaxation led to sinking even deeper in my seat as I continued reading this nice book. Even his attempts at injecting a twist on the story, almost always at the very end with the last sentence, didn’t shake that sense of goodness in the world.

Uncommon Type is light reading that doesn’t tax one’s brain much, and some of its stories would certainly benefit from better plot twists and drama to make them even more enjoyable.

What you get with this book, I guess, is the calming influence one might expect from Xanax.

Thank you Mr Hanks.

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The Ritual is a MINA Film Festival Finalist!

The Ritual is a MINA Film Festival Finalist!

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Remember my short film The Ritual? The one I featured in this post? Well, I received notification a few days ago that it was actually a finalist in the MINA film festival in Australia! Very stoked 😉

Here’s the certificate I received for my efforts.

Stoked!

Now this prods me forward to submit more of my films to festivals.

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Art. As a utility to fill space.

Art. As a utility to fill space.

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Art is in the eye of the beholder. True. No one can define what is and what is not art either as it is a very subjective and emotive thing.

To me, art must serve a purpose. And it must raise more questions than provide answers. It is this particular faculty that elevates a society; when even just one person within it starts questioning accepted norms as a result of witnessing, interacting or engaging with art.

Will society change because of this occurrence? Maybe. The butterfly effect might take years to accumulate the momentum necessary to effect change, but those little reverberations are needed to start the process. Those frequencies are amplified by art. Mature art. One that compels its observers to ask the difficult questions.

That was not the case with the latest exhibition at the Art Centre by the National Museum.

Nashaz – an Arabic word signifying the lack of harmony between sounds – is an exhibition by a group of Bahraini creatives who produced “art installations reflecting dissonance in societies through social norms and attitudes often overseen in daily lives” but falls short of its title and objectives, simply because all the exhibits are predictable, lack depth and sophistication and are glaringly obvious. None of the art displayed prompts a question in a viewer’s mind, and most certainly don’t provide any answers either.

I left acutely aware of the immaturity of the experience, and honestly wishing them well in their future.

The artists participating in this display shouldn’t feel dismayed though, and they most certainly celebrate this failure. Taking this as constructive criticism, they might well evolve into more sophisticated artists at some point in the future whose art can actually serve a purpose other than just filling space.

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When calligraphy meets graphics, Abbas Yousif and Jabbar Alghadban’s joint exhibition

When calligraphy meets graphics, Abbas Yousif and Jabbar Alghadban’s joint exhibition

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Abbas Yousif and Jabbar Alghadban are now two of the leaders of the contemporary art scene in Bahrain. The long-time friends just mounted their fourteenth joint exhibition. Their contemporary works are displayed at the Contemporary Art Society at Alqadam roundabout at the start of the Budaiya highway. Some thirty acrylic paintings are displayed, some of which are painted on innovative columns which I believe adds another dimension to their art, as well the people’s enjoyment.

Bahraini artists Abbas Yousif and Jabbar Alghadban (courtesy Alwasat Newspaper)
Bahraini artists Abbas Yousif and Jabbar Alghadban (courtesy Alwasat Newspaper)

Jabbar is very well known for his prints and etchings, while Abbas’ forte is creative calligraphy which he imparts through silk-screen printing as well as other methods.

Jabbar Alghadban and Abbas Yousif's 14th Joint Exhibition at the Bahrain Contemporary Art Society
Jabbar Alghadban and Abbas Yousif’s 14th Joint Exhibition at the Bahrain Contemporary Art Society running from 30 April – 18 May 2017

 

I thoroughly enjoyed visiting their exhibition last night, even if briefly, and am determined to visit again before the exhibition wraps up on the 18th of May 2017.

I’ve met both of these artists on their various visits to my father, under whom they studied and formed a very strong relationship. They were both affected by his art and thoughts as well as the determination to express themselves through their art.

I’m looking forward to interview them both for my documentary. Jabbar immediately expressed a strong interest to participate and assured me that Abbas would too. After all, Abbas has written prolifically about dad and his art since he passed away and is intimately familiar with his work.

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The Making of Nasser Al-Yousif’s Documentary

The Making of Nasser Al-Yousif’s Documentary

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I’ve finally arrived at the starting point of celebrating my father’s arts career and contributions to the art scene in general. I won’t dwell on why it’s taken me this long to start – a full eleven years since he passed away – other than this is simply the right time for me to do so.

Mahmood Al-Yousif with Bahraini artist Mr Abdulkarim Alorrayed at his home
Mahmood Al-Yousif with Bahraini artist Mr Abdulkarim Alorrayed at his home

The start today was an interview with the godfather of Bahraini art. It was a pleasure and a privilege to have spent time with Mr Abdulkarim Alorrayed at his home this afternoon. He is the first on my list of interviewees for the documentary I’m producing about my late father, Nasser Al-Yousif, who along with Mr Alorrayed, was one of the founders of contemporary art in Bahrain. Mr Alorrayed was also one of my father’s teachers and mentors and had become good friends with him over the years.

Bahraini artist Nasser Al-Yousif
Bahraini artist Nasser Al-Yousif, 1940 – 2006

I believe that the interview was good. It was wide ranging and deep enough to produce several segments for the final documentary. I’m grateful to Mr Alorrayed for taking the time to reflect on a friendship that went over fifty years. His memory of dates, situations and experiences was astounding and enriching. And for that I shall always be very grateful to him.

I’ve identified several influential artists whom I’m going to interview. If you’d like to follow the production along, please subscribe to this blog to receive updates.

I intend to finish this documentary by September 2017, ready for a public launch at my father’s forthcoming retrospective exhibition at the bin Matar House in Muharraq on 13 October 2017 under the auspices of Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research.

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Short Stories Welcome

Short Stories Welcome

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Do you have a story that you would like to see in film? Well, you’re in luck. Submit yours to me and I’ll give it consideration to be made into a short film – or a long one for that matter.

While I’m open to consider any story, please be aware of a few rules:

  1. You must own the rights to the story you are submitting
  2. It must be original and has not been made into a film previously
  3. Although exclusivity is not an issue at the consideration stage, you might be asked for exclusive rights to produce it into a movie
  4. You will be required to sign legal release forms once a decision is made to use your story
  5. At this time, no financial remuneration is offered; however, you will receive full credit
  6. If your story goes into production, you will be invited to be on set or help with production should you so wish
  7. I reserve the right to add and/or change rules and regulations as I progress. I’ve not done this before so bear with me please. I’m in this for the fun rather than the money.

Still interested? Please submit your story to me via [email protected]

Let’s get to it!

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Scratching head and wondering if that is Art.

Scratching head and wondering if that is Art.

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Help. I’m confused. Is this really art?

This is an honest question. I have no answer other than being left wondering what is art in general, and if this “work” and others like it actually lowers the bar of what should be regarded as art.

To me, it a badly shot and edited video that would not have gain more than a few views on YouTube, yet, a whole section of Alrewaq – a well known and respected gallery – has been dedicated to it. The other parts of this “installation” is a few architectural and simple drawings of the steps in addition to a few photographs. Nothing that would draw people’s attention in a normal sense.

So what is it that classified this “work” as one of art?

Someone please educate me.

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Art, and the Tender Process

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How do you think the Tender Board or its stipulated processes would go about evaluating the following painting, had it been a subject of tender to paint a woman, for instance?

Any suggestions?

Well, an “evaluator” who most probably would have no clue about art in the first place might give this painting a 1 out of 10 for effort, and would object to the style of painting as it does not and will not represent the person to be painted. Why they didn’t just opt for a photograph in the first place is another subject altogether, they want a painting for goodness’ sake.

So they do their “research” and identify three or four companies to bid for this project. Yes, I know, bidding to execute a work of art. Stay with me please. They don’t tell them any parameters other than “we want to commission a painting of a woman, and it must be ready in three weeks”. Or, they screw up the whole process by actually providing you with an outline, and demand that you use your artistic ability to paint within those lines! They never, ever, offer a clue as to how much their budget would be, but would rather get the companies fortunate enough to be selected through their arduous research slug it out, forgetting – willingly – that such a painting which would satisfy their requirements could go for anything between BD5 to probably several million. Oh, I forgot, they actually invite those hapless bidders to come for a meeting to technically evaluate their bids. As if we’re building a house or car or some other product which can be quantified and qualified without too much effort…

The pressure is always on beyond that as well. They usually want a miracle and delivery yesterday, only for the award of such a tender to surpass the must deliver by date!

So you wait. And wait. And then the Board opens the financial tenders and make the bids known. Then you wait for weeks some more and then be notified that your bid failed on technical merit!

What? Are you serious? I think us as artists would find it very heart-breaking if our competitors win on creative merits, and although it’s sad but we tend to accept it because we know that that particular competitor might have assigned a better and more appropriate director for that project, fine, but for all that’s Holy’s sake, my paints and dyes and brushes are exactly the same as, or as similar as can be with all the other bidders, so what exactly are the metrics used to “evaluate” the bids?

I’m glad that the guy who painted that weird picture above is dead. Regardless, he would probably be turning like a mis-aligned bloody turbine shaft in his grave non-the-less because of a hint that he might have failed a Bahraini Tender Board evaluation due to a fucking technical merit!

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Time for the soul

Time for the soul

Today. I spent a little time with inspiration. Today. I felt humble. Today. I swam in the mists of contemplative philosophy. Today. I got to know myself a little better. Today. I rubbed shoulders with giants. Today.

I remembered my father.

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Tattooed people aren’t scary, they’re cool!

Tattooed people aren’t scary, they’re cool!

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Discovering a tattoo convention by chance at the Amsterdam RAI convention centre, I determined to go and have a look, and thank goodness I did!

Tattoos are cool. Tattooed people aren’t scary. They’re just using their own bodies to tell their stories and show their thoughts in a lasting manner for as long as they live.

The artists there were incredible. Some of the traditional methods of tattooing looked quite painful, but the participants were emphatic that the pain – if it exists at all in that experience – is minor and worth the suffering. They wanted “an original” tattooing method to add to their memories.

I spent just a few hours there and I can tell you that I came very close to getting inked!

I didn’t. But had I done so, what do you think I would have had done?

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