The Cultured Artist

Veteran artist Ahmed Anan creates art that celebrates women as icons.

When Did You First Realize You Were Born To Be An Artist?

My love for the arts started when I was young, influenced by cartoons as a child. This passion remained with me until I reached high school in 1987. It was then that I felt my path had been chosen. In 1989, I joined Bahrain Contemporary Arts Association and launched my career. And here I am today, the Head of this Association.

How Would You Describe Your Style? Are There Any Patterns You Prefer To Use?

Due to my financial conditions at the time, and the lack of a university in Bahrain specializing in fine arts, I had to learn on my own through research, trials, and participation in workshops abroad. This allowed me to discover various styles in drawing, sculpting, and printing in various schools. In the early 90’s, I started drawing stories and caricatures. I then specialized in total and partial abstract arts, becoming familiar with the modern styles. Since the early 90’s, all my paintings have featured representations of the woman in modern and symbolic arts. The woman is my icon.

Is There A Particular Piece From Your Work That’s Your Favorite?

I am proud of all my work, but I do believe that my best pieces were the ones that have been sold. There are some that I prefer not to sell because they hold such personal memories to me. I also prefer some of my projects that I consider to be a transitional point from one style to the next.

Growing Up, Who Were Your Role Models In The Art World?

Early on, I preferred the artists of the renaissance era, but after that, the genius Pablo Picasso became the main influencer on my artistic methods.

What Do You Think Of The Art Scene In Bahrain? Do We Have A Lot Of Artists Here Or Is It Still A Growing Community?

The art movement started in Bahrain in the 1960’s, while at that time, it had reached its peak in the more advanced countries. I think the art world here is still young, and trying to catch up with the Western schools and artists. Though, we do have a few distinguished artists.

What Is Standing In The Way Of An Artist’s Success These Days?

A number of things stand in the way of the artist’s success, including the artist himself. Most artists tend to be reclusive and prefer to work in hiding despite the fact that fame is one of the most important factors in an artist’s emergence. There are other obstacles such as being unappreciated or misunderstood, even undervalued by relevant parties, as they are sometimes unaware of the true value of art and its role in building civilizations. There’s also the lack of a real market for the arts, one that can support the artist and art collectors. We don’t have any specialized critics in the field of fine arts. And we are lacking in programmes that promote the affairs of arts and culture, which leaves the field of art as vague and undermines its merit in receiving meaningful support. This is why we don’t have a distinction between the good artists and the best artists.

What Advice Would You Give To A Young Artist Who Wants To Have A Career In The Art World?

Young artists today want to be famous at the speed of lightning. My advice to them is to study the arts in all its aspects, schools, and history. They should also keep practicing continuously, and try to mingle with other artists and cultured individuals through participation in important events. They should visit museums and be aware of the latest trends. After enough cultural accumulation, they can focus on producing. One additional advice I would give is to focus on specialized studies in critique, philosophy, beauty, and everything related to the arts.

Are There Any Artists You Would Like To Work With Or Countries Where You Want To Exhibit Your Art In The Future?

I hope to have my own exhibition in the US and Europe in particular. It’s something that I have been dedicating all my efforts to achieve these days.

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