It is difficult to find a single word to describe this prolific artist. She is determined, creative and driven to perfection. She never fails to pleasantly surprise all of us who keep tabs on her work either via her blog or the shows. Kuwaiti artist Ghadah Al Kandari’s joie de vivre is contagious and I think I caught a little of it last Sunday, as we chatted in her studio over cups of green tea.
The daughter of a former diplomat, Al Kandari was born in India and spent her formative years travelling the world and experiencing different cultures which helped shape her outlook to life.
Al Kandari is easily one of the most talked about artists in Kuwait these days. Her artworks have grabbed the attention of art collectors not only in the country, but in the region. Al Kandari is also a talented photographer and an avid social media enthusiast. The act of creation for Al Kandari is an organic, relaxed process. Inside her studio a large shelf is stacked with books. The curtains are paint spattered, and the walls are lined with bottles of paint and old, beat-up brushes.
The art inhabits a soulful feminine world. Al Kandari's visual rhetorics portray a dazzling array of emotions and thought provoking issues about the protagonists. The viewer confronts questions in multiple connotations through a loose amalgamation of women — who are defiant, passive, creative, and beautiful.
Her work has its own visual language and trademark of distinction. Behind the simple lines, you will find sub-plots and stories where layers of paint create a deeper and more complex language and reveal a range of moods. Al Kandari has done a lot of whimsical work, but lately she's matured with her dialect.
It was Kuwaiti artist Sami Mohammed and the renowned Surrealist artist Salvador Dali who opened up a whole new world of art to her. "I was totally captivated by the work of Sami Mohammed, who showed me that nothing is impossible."
Articulate and passionate about her work, Al Kandari has always had a natural disposition toward art. It was a young woman’s dream come true, when at age 22, she held her first exhibition. She is candid about her early years. “To tell you the truth, I was so naive, then,” she laughs. “My first exhibition was hotch-potch with no common thread among the works, but nonetheless an enjoyable experience.”She expresses her gratitude to the Boushahry Gallery which hosted her first exhibition in 1994 followed by another in 1997. "I am truly grateful to them for placing their trust in someone who had just graduated from school." By the time, she exhibited in 2004, she had become older and wiser. Al Kandari’s art is constantly evolving. “My works are more theme-based now and I have more stories to tell.”
Al Kandari is always finding new ways to express her vision and refining her techniques so you can constantly expect to see something new. “The journey of self expression with acrylics is extremely fulfilling for me.” Her work is honest, tender, intimate, and personal. Her recent works are laced with complex undertones of emotional fragility and reflect authority and conviction that set them apart from the mainstream.
Speaking of her recently held exhibition entitled "Stories of Eves" at Gallery Tilal, Al Kandari explains the work looked at the daily life routines, squabbles and mundane pleasures of Eve and her sisters. "It was a successful show, and the theme was easy to understand. Women could relate to my stories," she notes happily.
Her strength is best seen in her powerful portraits. Al Kandari however adds her art is in a period of transition. "I am slowly drifting away from faces," she acknowledges. A painting, not yet finished, leans against the back wall of her studio. Commenting on her work under process, entitled "Ballerina's Pink," Al Kandari says, "I do not know how the work will progress. I just enjoy the process of painting." Pausing with a paintbrush in her hand, she laughingly asks, "Don’t they remind you of pink cupcakes?"
Through the years, Al Kandari has exhibited her works in numerous galleries. Her work can be found both in private and in corporate collections throughout the world. If you’d like to know more about Ghadah Al Kandari, please visit her blog www.prettygreenbullet.com
– Deepa Pant
Image Credits: Ghadah Al-Kandari and Deepa Pant