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Iraqi artist Nabeel Ali opens ‘Between Two Rivers’ exhibition at Hend Gallery, Muharraq

By Raji Unnikrishnan

Iraqi artist Nabeel Ali debuts his exhibition ‘Between Two Rivers’ at Hend Gallery in Muharraq, Bahrain. Skilfully blending traditional themes with contemporary elements, he aims to connect the past with the present through a unique artistic vision.

The Nabeel Ali Solo Exhibition, under the patronage of Shura Council Member Redha Abdulla Faraj, showcases a vast collection of the artist, who is a fan of murals, sculptures, and attire.

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Speaking to Bahrain This Week in an exclusive interview, the admirer of ancient artistic expressions said that he is constantly inspired by the evidence of artistic genius and innovation from the past, despite the limitations of tools and materials.

“My aim is to seamlessly blend traditional historical themes with modern elements in my artistic endeavours inspired by ancient civilizations brimming with stories and cultural richness,” he said.
“As a fervent admirer of ancient artistic expressions, encompassing murals, sculptures, and attire, I am constantly inspired by the evidence of artistic genius and innovation from those eras, despite the limitations of tools and materials. My goal is to bridge the past and the present by creating art that incorporates various drawing techniques and introduces contemporary materials.”

Nabeel expressed his utmost joy and excitement at his inaugural exhibition in Bahrain, which he described as a “beautiful and historically rich country.”

“Prior to this, I’ve had the privilege of hosting solo exhibitions in Jordan, Egypt, and my homeland, Iraq. As I embark on this new endeavour, I aspire to fulfill the responsibility of presenting artworks that span a spectrum of ideas, materials, and sizes. My overarching message underscores the unifying power of art, particularly in fostering connections between nations like Bahrain and Iraq, which share a profound history and heritage.”

He cited the commonalities of Iraq and Bahrain in terms of history and civilization, underscoring his belief in further enhancing this bond through collaborative efforts such as workshops and joint exhibitions and embracing the diverse experiences of artists from both nations.

“Art serves as a powerful vehicle for uniting people and fostering cultural exchange. Moreover, through the medium of the visual arts, we have the opportunity to elevate and refine individuals’ tastes, contributing to personal and societal development.”

Born in 1980 in Baghdad, Nabeel Ali is also an art professor at the College of Basic Education’s Department of Art. Drawing has been his passion since childhood, nurtured by the support and encouragement of his father and family. He initially explored oils and watercolours, creating paintings during my middle school years. Upon entering the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad, he went into the deeper study and mastery of drawing in a more professional capacity. Continuing his education at the College of Fine Arts, University of Baghdad, provided further opportunities for growth.

“Initially focusing on realistic subjects, my artistic journey evolved through various experiments, ultimately leading me to embrace an expressive style,” he said.
“The influence of realistic drawing remains evident in my depiction of people, nature, and animals, particularly Arabian horses.”

Teaching art entails a profound responsibility, serving as a conduit to underscore the significance of fine art in cultivating civilization and advancing various facets of life, according to Nabeel.

“Through the art of drawing, we unearth insights into humanity’s origins, as evidenced by cave drawings,” he said.
“Personally, I derive immense pleasure and psychological solace from guiding my students. Witnessing their experimentation and exploration of novel ideas and drawing techniques is both gratifying and inspiring. I am deeply invested in nurturing their potential and motivating them to evolve into future artistic pioneers. Teaching, to me, embodies experimentation, perseverance, and the continuous pursuit of challenges, constituting a vital augmentation to my own artistic journey.”

Being one of many Iraqi visual artists, Nabeel takes pride in having established a recognisable name and distinct style. This achievement, he said, is not easily attained but rather the culmination of a lengthy process involving experimentation, perseverance, and resilience in the face of all challenges. Consequently, opportunities to exhibit his work regularly and numerous awards and certificates of appreciation in recognition also contributed to his recognition.

“I consistently advocate for the exploration of fine art exhibitions, believing that exposure to such experiences enriches individuals’ lives,” he said.
“Additionally, I harbour a project idea wherein I aspire to exhibit the works of multiple artists in public spaces, aiming to cultivate a culture of art appreciation beyond traditional gallery settings. These events could encompass drawing sessions and exhibitions held in diverse locations accessible to all segments of society, thereby democratising access to art and fostering broader engagement with creative expression.”

The exhibition runs until March 18 on all days except Fridays, from 9am to 1pm and 4pm to 8pm.

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