On Sunday March 27th, ARTSHARKS ARTHouse exhibited a specially curated selection of artwork at the FA Gallery, Kuwait. The pieces were selected by Manayer AlSharekh, founder and Creative Director of ARTSHARKS.

ARTSHARKS, a social networking platform, was created to "Bridge the Art Gap" by exposing little known, almost unseen, art from all over the world. By showcasing the work of undiscovered artists, they provide them with encouragement, exposure and facilitating for them the means of supporting themselves "through their art". In addition, ARTHouse, a division of ARTSHARKS, represents artists and their work, and also works with those artists to produce commissioned art requested by clients.

For the first ARTHouse exhibition, Al-Sharekh selected a diverse range of artwork from contemporary Arab artists. The exhibiting artists included Reda Abdulrahman, Khalaf Taie, Osama Nashed, Fathi Afifi, Mohamad Abdallah, Dana Al-Hilal and Omar Fayoumi, among others.

Contemporary art is, in my opinion, not hard to like. For the most part, it portrays themes we are familiar with. It is easy to relate to, and if you're thinking about it decoratively, quite easy to adorn interiors with. At the exhibition, I found more than one piece that I would have loved to mount on my many empty walls.

Some standout pieces for me were the works of Fathi Afifi. They gave off a slightly somber mood, yet I quite liked looking at them. I was also attracted to the earthy color palettes of Reda Abdulrahman's paintings. Also notable were artist Dana Al-Hilal's large paintings of Arab "divas" like Fairouz and Om Kalthoum.

As I walked around the gallery, I also noticed a substantial number of Pop Art influenced pieces, such as Warhol-like paintings of the legendary Egyptian singer Om-Kalthoum and Saudi singer Mohammed Abdu. Others included pop star Haifa Wahbe and the late Farid Alatrash.

Overall, it was a nicely curated selection, though I would have liked to see a more diverse assortment of pieces from multiple mediums. I felt that some of the themes were recurring, such as the above mentioned Pop Art pieces. This wasn't necessarily a bad thing, as it was probably pure coincidence that more than a couple of artists chose to go that route. However, I would have liked to see less of those and more of the other more striking work.

The FA gallery was a good location to exhibit in; it is easy to browse, with crisp white walls that allowed the artworks to stand out. I was impressed by many of the paintings and was introduced to a number of talented artists – I would say that at least one of the objectives of this exhibition was achieved. Seeing as this was ARTHouse's first exhibition, I must commend them for this smart initiative.

ARTSHARKS ARTHouse is exhibiting at the FA Gallery from March 27 – April 3, 2011

–    Alya N. Al-Othman

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