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A Global Perspective Photography Exhibition

A Global Perspective Photography Exhibition

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I consider my photography exhibition currently at Mashq Art Space entitled A Global Perspective as my first “real” exhibition. I’m happy with the impact it has had and the number of visitors who have dropped in. I’m also thrilled to have received some valuable feedback and comments from visitors. I highly value their opinions.

I also want to make it clear that I am not discounting the smaller exhibition I have held at More Words Pop-up Shop. Not in the least. In fact, it was an excellent experience regardless of the number of people who actually visited. Seeing my photographs displayed on their wall was a good feeling of success. I would not hesitate to exhibit there again.

The best part of having an exhibition of my work is of course meeting a variety of people and having the opportunity to listen to them comment and even critique my work. I have been taking pictures since I was six, and apart from the customer virtual venues of my websites and the various other photography platforms I have tried over the years, I have never exhibited my work. This has now changed and I’m already thinking of future themes and pictures I can exhibit at physical venues. I didn’t expect it to be this much fun!

I dedicate both of these exhibitions to the memory of my late father, the great Bahraini pioneering artist Nasser Al-Yousif, who nurtured my talent and supported me in every way he could.

My interest in photography all started when I asked my father how was a photograph made. That was when I was six or seven years old I think. He explained it simplistically to me by saying that you put something called a negative on paper, then shine a light on it and the positive picture will come out on the paper.

Little did he know that I discussed this with my cousin Mohammed and I found one of dad’s negatives, got a piece of paper and we both sat on the stairs in our old home in the sun, exposing the negative and the paper to the sun. We sat there for ages and kept checking the paper for any hint of a picture developing. We even convinced ourselves that it was working! I can’t remember whether dad saw us sitting there on the stair in the sun when he came back home from work – he was a teacher at that time – or that I had gone to him with the negative and paper complaining that we sat there all day and nothing happened. But that experience resulted in my dad buying me my first camera.

And that’s how my passion for photography started.

A few years later, he even built me a dark room in a corner of his studio and bought me the projector and the chemicals so I started developing my own films. Photography has been part of me since then.

I kept my photography to myself until I got to high school where I suggested to the principal Mr Alsammak that I could start a photography club at the school – partly to get away from the hated physical education class which I felt was a waste of time! – and he agreed. He asked me what I needed and I gave him a list of equipment which he got supplied through the Ministry of Education and provided us with a room that we converted into a working darkroom. I got a few fellow students interested and that’s how the first photography club in a Bahraini school started.

I continued taking pictures and I think we exhibited some of our work at school functions and even participated in international competitions which we got to know about through photography magazines.

At university in Scotland, photography was an entrenched passion. The beauty of Scotland provided all the necessary inspiration to continue to take photographs at every opportunity I had. I constantly travelled all over Scotland with the goal of taking more pictures. I used to look forward to weekends so that I can go visit a loch or a farm or just a village or city to take pictures. I loved that time and have thousands of slides to prove it.

Once I retuned home after university I continued to practice photography and participated in the first photography exhibition by the Bahrain Art Society and one of my photographs won second place, and another won a consolation prize. I remember that my winning picture called Red Street – a long exposure of the in-construction highway going to Saudi. The long exposure and the street lights combined to provide a halo of red which was beautiful and etherial. That photograph was purchased by Shaikh Rashid Alkhalifa, and it was the very first picture I have ever sold. The consolation prize was a picture of the Bahrain Fort at Moonrise and it is actually exhibited now at the current exhibition. I love the purple hue of the picture and its a good documentary picture of how the fort used to be before it was renovated.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to exhibit again. This too was a chance encounter. I was visiting my brother Jamal’s (whose birthday is tomorrow, happy birthday bro!) excellent exhibition at Mashq Art Space when its owner artist and calligrapher Ali Albazzaz approached me to have a chat. I suggested that I would like to see my work exhibited at his space, half jokingly at the time. He responded by saying that he has a slot in April and for me to send him a portfolio to have a look at. I sent him a portfolio I created earlier and he accepted to provide me an exhibition slot.

I was thrilled. I was going to have my first photography exhibition!

Unfortunately he informed me later that the slot was no longer available. So as I had my portfolio ready, and at the encouragement of my wife, I sent it to Words which they accepted immediately, and I met with them to make the arrangements and agree on the other parameters.

I proceeded to print my portfolio and got the photographs framed in time for the exhibition at More Words which took place from 11 – 14 April 2018. As I was making the final arrangements, I got another call from Ali who informed me that the slot at Mashq was available again if I wanted it. That put me in a quandary. I had already committed to Words and I knew that if I accept Mashq’s slot – which is from 15 – 23 April – it will confuse people who might like to visit, and will also present a challenge for advertising both!

Me being me, I didn’t want to squander the opportunity and accepted both. I threw myself at the job of printing a bigger selection for Mashq as the space is quite larger than Words, and ran around ensuring that everything was taken care of.

I’m glad with how everything worked out in the end. Both experiences were valuable and both have now prepared me for future exhibitions which I am determined to do.

If you have a chance, please drop by Mashq until 23 April. I normally am there from around 7pm having their excellent chai karak and meeting with fellow photographers, artists and guests.

They will also be screening my film Triumph of Insight tomorrow night (18.4.18) at 8.30pm which will be followed by a question and answer session with me.


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.


Bahrain Garden Show coming up!

It’s only a few days to the much awaited Bahrain International Garden Show which will take place at the Bahrain International Exhibition Centre in Sanabis from Feb 22 – 24, my birthday falling on the 23rd is no coincidence of course, they asked and I gave my blessing!

No no. I’m really looking forward to it this year. I’ve got a little more experience as a gardener now and I think I know what to look for and more importantly, to hold myself back from getting things that I don’t need!

The difference this year also is that I entered my garden into the “young gardens” competition whose criteria includes gardens under 4 years old. I’m not sure if I will win anything, it would be good if I do of course, but I’m looking forward to critiques by the judges from the Bahrain Garden Club, ladies (and gentlemen) whose experience and expertise far outstrips mine.

The judging will take place on Feb 16 and 17th. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Wish me luck!


Simona’s Angels

Angels come in all shapes and sizes; some of those have religious and spiritual connotations and people who believe in them and their energies and auras can call on them for assistance, guidance and inspiration.

Simona Carmen Panciu, the Romanian artist who has been a resident in Bahrain for 8 years, and is the Alba gym instructor, has been not only surrounded by these angels, but draws on her artistic muses through meditation which channels the energy to her consciousness and paints these ephemeral images in oils on wood, some of which is just flotsam – pieces of wood – she collects from the beaches of Bahrain.

Simona Carmen Panciu with her paintings at Camelot in Adliya

Simon’a paintings are truly a calming inspiration to the space they grace. She had 42 of her paintings exhibited at Camelot Restaurant in Adliya last night. The exhibition continues through to Saturday. If you’re lucky, you will find one or two paintings still unsold. Their prices are very reasonable and go from BD50 through to about BD200.

Simona Carmen Panciu’s art and exhibition at Camelot restaurant in Adliya, Bahrain