We'll Build This City on Art and Love.
My 2014 series is entitled We'll Build This City on Art and Love, a spin off the eighties song We'll Build This City on Rock 'n' Roll. The title takes on both a serious and sarcastic connotation, with the simple straightforward meaning of re-building cities, minds, and beliefs that have been destroyed / deconstructed due to corruption and dogmatic, hypocritical ideologies. Most titles of paintings are a twist on chapters from Lewis Carrol's books Alice in Wonderland, The Hunting of the Snark, etc. Each title gives humor to an otherwise grave issue. By highlighting issues like corruption, bribery, delayed government projects, and other issues considered taboo, like love and marriage in the Muslim world, the series is a cry for peace both in the region and within ourselves.
My 2013 series Popcornographic, as a title, stemmed from my daughter's innocent response to the shut down of my It's a Man's World show in March 2012. Why Popcornographic? The title is my daughter's childish word, but it makes a mockery of the authorities' definition of “pornography”, a word they used when referring to my work. Furthermore, each title of each artwork in this new series is an analogy of some form of literary masterpiece, be it book or painting. I've chosen these specific titles because they belong to books that were banned at some point, or because their subject matter relates to my message, or because – quite simply – they're funny, cheeky, and enlighten with humor. The topics that Popcornographic deals with are all considered taboo in the Middle East, whether it is tackling the ramifications of subjective censorship or the disturbing phenomenon of child marriages or even the art of tattoos on Arab skin.
It's a Man's World
My 2011/2012 series It's a Man's World takes over where Society Girls left off, hence exploring the other side of Middle Eastern society: men. The title's irony is not lost in the images, most of which depict a hedonistic, taboo world of men. The images portray the dichotomy of the Arab man: religious preacher versus weekend alcoholic; political activist versus weekend party-goer; conservative father versus playboy; environmentalist versus smoker. Our society, by the very nature of its sharia-run politics, cannot exist without double standards, hypocrisy, and secret private lives. In this new work, I choose simply to depict what I've seen, and expose the untold truth of society men.
The Bullet Series
In The Bullet Series, the paintings are shot by a rifle with a small Hornet bullet, an allegory of society's murder of human rights, and freedom of speech and choice. Inevitably, bullets are etched into our Middle Eastern politics, history, culture, and religion. Our history and our current political affairs illustrate that the "bullet" is part of our existence. As such, it organically becomes part of any work related to the region. The series as a whole poses controversial religious, political, social, and sexual questions, with some paintings such as My Country is Ill and Take Me To Heaven being central to the work as a study of contemporary Middle Eastern socio-politics, and thus opening up a long overdue dialogue. The images do not profess to judge or dictate; rather, they are a transparent mirror thrust into society, exposing its taboo elements, and it is left up to the viewer to create his/her own perception of what truth is. Each painting is shot at a distance of 50 meters (with no room for error) and the bullet casings are saved and stored in labeled mini containers as part of the work– a reminder of the force, the power, of the issue at hand.
My series Society Girls is based on a raw exploration of modern Arabian Gulf society, metaphorically stripped to reveal the truth. The images do not profess to demean or criticize, nor to glorify and exaggerate. The images do tend to be subtly satirical, however, in juxtaposing traditional elements with contemporary elements. As with all of my recent work, the polarity between East and West is the backbone of my images, which – in this case - is simply a slice of life of society girls in Kuwait. The paintings depict the girls in their embellished, fashionable state, an emblematic prototypical portrayal in which there tends to be a “sameness” of identity. They are frozen in time, enclosed in their own bubble, oblivious to any external tumult. There is a feeling of cloning, of repetition. The Abbaya and the Niqab (veil) – both of which are meant to cover the woman, conceal her beauty from men, constrict her sensuality – are used provocatively, with the Abbaya casually strewn across the sofa here and there, sleek waxed legs exposed, oiled skin revealed, and the veils covering the women's faces are – ironically – an erotic throwback to the days of European courting and glamour. This eroticism is further accentuated by Nizar Qabbani's erotic poetry calligraphed - and intermingled with my own poetry spewed spontaneously - onto the sofa on which the girls sit. There is thus on the one hand the Abbaya, the Niqab, and the underlying nuances of the girls' Islamic religion and socio-cultural traditions, juxtaposed with the exposed flesh, revealing poses, erotic poetry and the undercurrents of sexuality and rebellion. This incongruency is the backbone of Society Girls. The series, as a whole, offers a glimpse of untold truth.
Art emerges from passion, raw talent, a strong voice, an unflinching vision, and a mind-shifting philosophy. Having undergone no traditional art schooling has made my vision clear, my voice imposing, and my philosophy rebellious. Inspiration is a continuous blessing, but has become an even more soul-stirring occurrence when stemming from a goal-oriented philosophy: to challenge out-dated social mores, to annihilate stereotypes, to open minds and toss away those blinders that people wear. This is the role of the artist. This is my role in my society. My work is now a conceptual formula of acrylic painting with photography, of text and image combined, a Synthesized, Ekphrastic world where East meets West, where methodologies merge and cultures fuse: where every image is the voice of the silent, every image is a moment captured in time yet infused with the breath of eternal life, and every image is a rebel with a cause.