Walk with me
It was time to meet Ali Swar again, but this time for an in-depth interview. Now that we had some clues as to who he is, we wanted him to express it. You see, it can be easy to talk about what we believe, how we see things, what interpretation to give to issues. But to be conscious of who we are deep down, what role we give ourselves in life if any, these are other matters. Not bartending psychoanalysis here, just enlightening you on the interviewee’s role.
No matter what experiences you’ve been through, nothing beats speaking in front of a running camera isn’t an easy task. Ali did a great job – forgetting that the camera was there, he answered the questions we had for him. The guy is inspired and inspiring.
Simplest questions can often be the trickiest: What’s street art? Is street art an art from the West? If it’s so, why do you use it? Is this part of the World so obsessed by Western culture that it cannot create its own medium of expression?…
One thing was for sure, Ali wanted to address his fellow Bahraini nationals. Being a street artist in this part of the World is a statement by itself. It’s not a naïve process. It simply can’t be!
Undoubtedly, artists like Banksy are role models for any street artist around the Globe. Back here, even more so. The guy is a legend. But let’s take another perspective here, according to our own interpretation. What exactly does Banksy risk, in drawing an innocent girl lifted into the air by a balloon on the Israeli/Palestinian wall? Prison? For a while sure… But he is European, his Passport is by essence a way out… It is his work that defines him. As for the artists here, it’s their paths themselves that do.
The work here would be a quest for beauty. An esthetic process more than a controversial one. How do you study art here by the way? You don’t. You are self-taught, no surprise that you work hard on your technique then.
Ali wants to gather people through art. It’s a success in progress.
Other part of town, another story, same aim.
We had to meet with Alan. UK-native Alan Goulbourne is an amazing sculptor. Completely unable to “market” what he does, we really had to dig, ask, and push to even cuddle his world. But one thing is certain – this guy’s star is on the rise. Three years now that he has been doing that. That what? That everything! He tries it all. Wood, stone, steel… doesn’t know how to do this or that? He learns by himself, makes some mistakes, starts again. In three years, he made more than 50 pieces. And not some little figurines, no! Huge pieces, using sometimes up to 1km of wood. We, of course, don’t count the fact that he builds his own equipment such as tables, chairs or shelves in order to display his materials. That’s what he was doing when we arrived. Making a table! How long does it take you to do it Alan? What, the table? 5 to 10 minutes… The question was stupid, from his point of view at least. Alan was in Bahrain thanks to Al Riwaq. He had sponsorship until December so he could build a kind of school for Bahrainis who want to embrace the artistic path. He will teach them how to use the equipment and he’ll be on his way back to Wales. Gulf is too hot for him anyway. He needs cold. Ah, Brits…
He’s converted us. As we moved away, we knew that we’d just met with a one of a kind artist. And sure in the belief that the next time we’ll cross his road, it will be on an art magazine front-page.
We had an appointment with another gifted artist. If the previous meeting with Alan was off topic for our work, this one was clearly in.
Scene name: HuviL. Art: Graff. Profession: air traffic controller.
Not an interview meeting but an expedition. The interview will have to wait. We were about to discover Manama through Huvil’s art. Like we did with Ali (before his actual interview), we wanted to know a little bit more about HuviL.
His repute precedes him, and that’s what we were about to understand. He took us in his car. The “crime” equipment were there lying on the car’s back seats. A mask, allowing you to breath correctly while graffing and of course the legendary sprays.
Melchior wanted to shoot every moment with his camera. Clicking furiously here and there. Unstoppable machine. He wanted all the details. We wanted all the details. From official to less official work pieces in Manama streets, HuviL thrilled us as he carried us into the Oriental night. From dusty to sanitized areas, we saw it all. Again, the technique is without a doubt here. Women are Huvil’s main subject, and he knows how to enhance them. Their eyes are hypnotizing thanks to his talent.
Sometimes HuviL collaborates with other street artists, like this mural they did in midtown. One of his first works. He showed us the video that one of his buddies did about this particular day. They stayed for few days. After his work HuviL would come back and pursue his piece. Taking into consideration that he works for complete 10 hour shifts in the airport tower, the guy better be passionate, and his wife patient.
HuviL is a recognized artist here; for sure he’ll be abroad soon. But what we appreciated with him apart from his sharp sense of humor, was the fact that he seemed very touched by the compliments we made about his work. The artist “thanks” the shy one. Very far from the arrogant one, consequence of an anticipated compliment.
Three real artists, three different roads, one same goal: carry the public on into their journey.
Let’s sum up their approach: Walk with me.
To be continued…