Ebrahim Habib, a creative Kuwaiti artist with a penchant for the Arabic script and Islamic symbols has received not only the admiration of art critics and fans alike, but also the attention of the State of Kuwait by being awarded the Kuwaiti National Award in Art, the highest ranking award possible in the country. His artworks not only grab the attention of viewers with their magnificent colors and imagery but also by the way they communicate through Arabic script and various Islamic symbols such as the 99 Holy Names of Allah.
Who knew art and Islam could intertwine and be weaved so effortlessly into beautiful contemporary works of art and fused to create eye catching collectible pieces. We’ve never seen someone create that natural connection like Ebrahim Habib does, so we sought to find out more about his elusive talent.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR BEGINNINGS AS AN ARTIST…
I started sketching and drawing when I was only four years old. My works of art were hung up around school and I participated in many local school art fairs. I was even awarded a certificate from the Ministry of Education in Kuwait for my participation. As I grew older, I saw and understood how art had the power to influence and touch people.
HOW DID YOU DEVELOP YOUR ARTISTIC TALENTS AND CREATIVITY?
The belief in art and its importance encouraged me to persevere and continue to study art, be it old or modern. I researched different art movements and educated myself about the prime artists that took part in these artistic movements as well as their amazing works of art that allowed them to make a mark in history.
Also, I developed my talent further by sketching and practicing with different art techniques to further enhance my abilities and educate myself on the fundamentals of art. I had to learn the basics of art so that my future works would have a competent background and a precise direction.
WERE YOU INFLUENCED BY OTHER ARAB OR INTERNATIONAL ARTISTS? WHO DO YOU ASPIRE TO BE LIKE?
When one delves into art, one has to emphasize the concept of aesthetic appeal and beauty. Since in every school of art, we notice that the creative artists that participated created magnum opuses; that impressed the world and made them famous in art history.
As for art, many different art movements have influenced me. I’m an ardent admirer of Islamic Art and Renaissance Art. Some of the Renaissance Artists I admire are Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and Raphael. I’m also a fan of the school of Surrealism, and believe that Salvador Dali is the greatest artist of the 21st Century. Cubism is also an art movement I am fond with, especially Picasso’s work. Finally, in the field of Arabic calligraphy, which is one of my fortes, I admire the works of the artist and calligrapher Jaleel Rasouli.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO USE ARABIC CALLIGRAPHY AS WELL AS ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS SYMBOLS AND QUOTES IN YOUR ART?
I started creating artworks that resemble reality and the old Kuwaiti society; most of the time my works emphasized faces. After that phase I moved to the school of Surrealism, and then to abstract art. I still create artworks that have an abstract feel to them.
I’ve also always loved the Arabic script, calligraphy, and Islamic Art; the reason being that the most important invention man has ever made has been the invention of the letter, as in alphabet, and from this letter the most beautiful words were created, strung together they make sentences, which in turn gave birth to knowledge and communication.
I’ve also been very passionate about Arabic script due to my participation and attachment to Dar Al Athar Al Islamiyah in Kuwait, which in turn allowed Islamic Art to inspire me and influenced my artworks. The result of this influence has been works of art that were created using Arabic calligraphy, in addition to different artistic techniques.
By far, what differentiates my pieces from different works of art is the usage of the 99 Holy Names of Allah as well as Holy Quranic Verses. I also include a lot of different old Arabic scripts, such as the Kuffi Al Mowaraq, which I’ve used in a series of bronze sculptures.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU WHEN YOU CREATE ART?
With no doubt, a true artist is influenced and influences through his art. Most importantly, every artist has to have his own identity and special mark. An artist’s works of art have to branch from his environment and cultural background. An artist like myself is not a sole entity; he is part of the Kuwaiti society on a micro level and part of the Islamic community at large and is influenced by both respectively. I based my art on this belief, from the colors, to the letters, to the calligraphy and work on presenting it in a contemporary fashion.
WE KNOW YOU’VE WON THE NATIONAL AWARD IN ART FROM THE KUWAITI GOVERNMENT. TALK TO US ABOUT THAT.
The prizes I’ve received from several exhibitions and different art participations have a big influence on me and are a kind of boost that encourages me to work harder and put more effort in my artworks and creations.
Receiving the National Award in Art has had the lion’s share in influencing me and encouraging me in my journey in art and life as a whole, and is different from any other award I have ever received. It is a merit and a token of appreciation from my country, which is where I create my art, and to whom I dedicate my art to.
Lastly, the best form of flattery is people’s admiration and appreciation of my artworks.
– Noufa Al-Sabah
Images courtesy of Ebrahim Habib