Following her intuition and bravely walking into the art world, Amina Al-Abassi is not one to shy away from any kind of challenge. A self-taught artist, Amina has been developing her artistic style while effortlessly balancing a banking job as well. Her art embraces traditional themes of Arab culture and Amina makes sure they are represented in a contemporary way to appeal to various audiences (her iPhone covers are a visual treat!).
Khaleejesque met up with Amina to know more about her artistic journey and her views on the Bahraini art culture.
Can you please tell us a little about yourself
I am a Bahraini artist; born in Sydney, Australia I lived my whole life in my beloved county Bahrain. I have always been fascinated by art, painting on the walls at home, excelling at my art classes in school, and that’s how it all began. I started painting in the basement at home and stored my paintings, barely showing them to anyone, and while I studied banking and finance, painting remained a dream of mine.
After graduating from business school the markets weren’t so great, and it wasn’t very easy to find a job in the banking field. So I decided that maybe it was time for me to open that locked door and pursue my dream of painting. Today, I think that was one of the best decisions I made.
My first exposure took place at Al Riwaq Art Space, one of the most prestigious art galleries in the Kingdom. They initiated a project to help upcoming artists and promote their creativity, being a part of this project was a great step, and it gave me great exposure.
From there I started showcasing my work at different exhibitions and gained a customer base. Today, my business “Modern Art with a Traditional Touch” is flooded with requests for my paintings, I also began expanding my product line into different products inspired by my paintings, such as iPhone, iPad and Galaxy s3 covers. I also started creating furniture pieces such as partitions, which attracted interior design companies.
What got you start painting? And do you have any formal art education?
I have been painting all my life, it was always something that I loved to incorporate in whatever I do. I am a self-taught artist, I haven’t had any formal education in the field, but I would love to brush up on my talent. I am currently a member in the Bahrain Art Society, one of the main goals I joined was to get introduced to different artists in Bahrain who share the same passion as mine and learn from their experiences.
How do you balance your banking job with your art career?
Balancing my work at the bank and my work as an artist is not something new to me. It is definitely challenging in terms of time management, but it’s something that I've learned to adapt to. Painting has always been a part of my life, along with school, university and work. I put a 100% in everything I do, and for one thing, painting is my own way of relaxing and forgetting about all the tensions in life. I focus on my art business after leaving the Bank. So, it is something I do in the afternoons mostly. Which means my schedule can get very busy after my day job, which isn’t a bad thing.
What type of art work do you produce?
My business is called “Modern Art with a Traditional Touch”. Which reflects exactly what I do. My paintings are portrayed in a modern way and painted using contemporary techniques, but at the same time reflect rich cultures, such as the Bahraini and Khaleeji theme in specific. I also try to explore other themes such as Islamic, calligraphy, African, etc.
Your iPhone covers are beautiful. Are they hand painted? How has the feedback been on them?
My iPhone covers are high resolution quality print of my original paintings on the covers, which is more convenient than having them hand painted as the paint will fade with time. I was looking for a way to utilize my paintings and be creative, now you can walk around with a painting in the palm of your hands.
The feedback has been excellent; I have sold out my first batch and received many orders for my next batch. People started requesting different paintings on their covers, which I thought was a great idea to have them involved. The idea behind it is to make my work accessible to everyone, if not a painting or a furniture piece maybe a cover.
Who or what inspires you to create your art work?
Everything around me inspires me, something as simple as a drive to work could start the train of thought in to a beautiful meaningful painting. I also like to visit the place where my paintings are going to be displayed, to get inspired by the surroundings, and work on something that is customized and personal.
Old traditions and cultures inspire me the most, we live in a fast moving world , and sometimes taking something simple from our past rich cultures and projecting it into our modern lives creates a beautiful painting.
Which local and/or regional artists do you look up to?
A Bahraini artist who I really look up to is Abbas Al Mosawi. I love his work, his delicate brush touches of our local Bahraini traditions, souq and traditional clothes, the vibrant colors in his paintings, and most importantly the long artistic career he has established for himself.
What do you think of the Bahraini art scene? Are there enough galleries, art centers that promote art culture?
The Bahraini art scene has risen with the rise of the social media such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Young Bahraini artist have utilized this free method of advertising to showcase their art which has increased their exposure in the art scene. This exposure has helped young artists gain the support of the Ministry of Culture and art galleries by creating competitions and projects to support upcoming artists in Bahrain.
Visit www.aminagallery.com for more information about Amina Al-Abassi and to check out her artwork
– Staff writer
Images courtesy of Amina Al-Abassi