Kuwait: Beyond the Border

Imago Mundi

Contemporary Artists from Kuwait

Art in Kuwait
Out of its deep passion to develop and promote arts and culture, and present its contemporary fine arts movement to the world, Kuwait is the third Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member state to take part in the Imago Mundi project, following Saudi Arabia and Oman. This project is the first of its kind in Kuwait to documents this number of artworks by contemporary Kuwaiti artists of all ages, representing all types of art. Imago Mundi has been able to collect and present artworks by 140 artists displaying different techniques, materials and subjects.

Hamza Abdulsamad Ahmed Al Tarakme - I’m a clown (2016)

The geographic location of Kuwait has contributed to the society’s openness to other cultures. In addition, the concept of dialogue between rulers and citizens is deeply rooted in the country and is the foundation for democracy and freedom of expression in Kuwaiti culture.

Naji Al Hai - Harmony 1 (2017)

Children’s crafts are a very important example in our attempt to understand the beginning of plastic art in Kuwait, with its spontaneity and ability to portray people’s simple lives. The beginning of plastic art in Kuwait is not different from the beginning of all forms of art around the world. It is a style that leads to establishing local identities in any society. Looking back at primitive art, we can see that the passion for art is shared by children and primitives alike, and leads to similar conclusions. The primitive man exercised painting and sculpture even before talking, farming, animal raising and pottery making. Art is a language used by humans to translate their own expressions in particular, and human needs in general. It is as necessary as food and water; a creative talent is gifted to humans
by god and varies from one person to another. Today, Kuwaiti plastic art is an outstanding manifestation of the development of the country since the 1950s. The work of Kuwaiti artists is celebrated locally and internationally, achieving a notable status for the country.

Nourah Houmod Al Ali - Night guardians (2016)

Some of these symbolic artworks tackle human emotions and characterize them, which is not just important in its own right, but also for its practical significance. People develop attitudes towards certain circumstances and events when their feelings and emotions are evoked, regardless of how much they are aware of the subjective and ethical aspects.

Ali Al Baddah - Arabic calligraphy (2016)

Zahraa Al Ali - Identity (2016)

One of the best examples of employing art to benefit people are artists’ initiatives to design posters and murals in public facilities and children’s playgrounds, or books with content that ranges from storytelling to science, history, art, education, and humor. That’s how artists engage their art with their social and economic surroundings, creating a realistic and effective image.

Abeer Al Kandari - Deep in the cloud (2016)

Ahmed Jawhar - Untitled (2016)

The Kuwaiti art movement started with the Kuwaiti renaissance, which saw increased attention being paid to literature and art. There was more focus on developing arts, including theatre, cinema, media, music, art and museums. The National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters and the Kuwait Arts Association are the most prominent supporters of the plastic art movement in Kuwait.

Khulood Mohd Maroof - Peace 1, Peace 2 (2016)

The rise of the plastic art movement started in the 1950s with the first artist Mojeb Aldoursi, who studied at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Egypt. The interest in plastic art increased, art schools became more varied and gave rise to intellectual and artistic genres, such as Kuwaiti culture painting, Surrealism, Impressionism, abstract art, and installation works.

Laila Al Gharabally - Happy kid (2017)

Eman Jamal Al Kanan - Kuwait TV (2016)

Renowned Kuwaiti artists include: Ayoub Hussein, Sami Mohamed, Abdelrassoul Salman, Hameed Khasa’al, Abdullah Alkassar, and Badr Alqatami. Some artists, such as Khaled Elshatty, Asa’ad Bunashy, and others, come from a more modern generation. Mojeb Aldoursi is a pioneering artist who was born in Kuwait in 1921. His love for painting granted him the opportunity – supported by the Education Department – to go on a mission to Egypt, where he joined the Faculty of Ornament Industries and studied Ornament Art. Artist Khaleefa Elqattan, one of the pioneers of Kuwaiti plastic art, had a unique style called ‘Circulism’ with its own philosophical origin. He was born in Kuwait in January 1934 in a family working in trade. He showed potential in plastic art since he was a school student.

Mariam Al Ghaith - Sedition Time 2 (2017)

Alaa Amir Al Hadad - Feel the light (2016)

Artist Hameed Khasa’al went to Fahaheel primary school and then moved to Al-Maʿarri middle school. Fine Arts teachers noticed his passion for arts and his will to polish his talent with academic education. Since there was no faculty specialized in fine arts at the time, he joined the Teachers Institute and gained a Fine Arts diploma in 1971, after four years. He worked as a Fine Arts teacher for primary school students for five years, and then obtained a study leave to travel to Cairo and join the Faculty of Fine Arts, oil painting section. Artist Sami Mohamed was born in October in 1934 in Sawabir, one of the oldest districts in Kuwait. He attended sculpture training lessons taught by Egyptian artist Anwar El-Serougy.

Eman M. Al Musallam - Isolation (2016)

Frederick Wilcott - Compared to what (2016)

The creations of several artists laid the foundation of the Kuwaiti art movement, and points it in the right direction to gain an esteemed status among contemporary art movements in the Arab world, and be at the forefront of Arab arts. Kuwait publishes the Art magazine that showcases the most important plastic art events in the Arab world. It has also produced the books Alam Al-Fikr and Alam Al-Ma’arifa and many other art, literature, and culture publications issued by the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters in Kuwait, focusing on the latest news in the artistic and cultural scene of the Arab world.

Hanan Al Mesbah - Untitled (2016)

Bashayer Al Ramadhan - When Eyes Talk (2017)

In the Gulf countries, visual art is a reflection of the reality of the Arab world, and the methods and trends used are the same in all the Arab countries. Whether it is Cairo, Baghdad, or the Levant, the inspiring school of art can easily be detected in the work of artists from the Gulf.
It is a collective region with some variations.

Shaimaa Ashknani - Feeling land 2 (2016)

Hanan Al Jassim - Art by Hanan (2016)

In the end, we have been able to present Kuwait as an image of contemporary art among several African, European, Asian and American images. This book can be used to contact Kuwaiti artists and get to know their capabilities and contemporary and future works, if they were offered the chance to show their artistic experiences.

Nuora Abdulhadi - Untitled (2016)

Adel Al Meshal - Al Samre dance (2016)

I would like to thank artist Ahmed Jawhar, the co-founder of the Den Gallery, for executing and sponsoring the project, and the team of the Den Gallery who had a major role in introducing us to the Kuwaiti Society for Fine Arts and contributed greatly to the success of the project. Special thanks to Mariam Al Ghaith, director of the Al Adwany gallery, for supporting this project by contacting the artists, and helping them to participate. Special thanks to Dr. Oriano Mabellini; project organizer, and Mr. Luciano Benetton, founder of Imago Mundi, for their efforts to present the Image of contemporary Kuwaiti art to the world.

Moataz El Safty
Founding Director of EAN Group for International Artistic Cooperation, Egypt

Muna Al Gharabally - Ballet (2016)


Credits: Story

Art Direction, Photography and Production
Project Management
La Biennale di Malindi Ltd
Moataz El Safty
Ahmed Jawher
Mariam Al Ghaith
Project Coordinator
Oriano Mabellini
Barbara Liverotti
Giorgia De Luca
Editorial Coordination
Enrico Bossan
Luciano Benetton
Moataz El Safty
Ahmed Jawher
Editing and Translation
Emma Cole
Simona Caldera
Giorgia De Luca
Valentina Granzotto
Pietro Valdatta
Art Direction
Bianca Otilia Ghiuzan
Marco Zanin
Marco Pavan
Mariam Ghazi Al Saeed - Mihrab
Special thanks
Fondazione Sarenco
Oksana Ignatush
Ahmed Jawher the co-founder of Den Gallery, Kuwait
The team work in Den Gallery, Kuwait Mariam Elghaith the director of Adwany gallery, Kuwait

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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