Contemporary Art Meets Cultural Heritage

December 7th, 2016


The Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohammed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Heritage is pleased to announce the opening of the art exhibition “15/15.” “15/15” is a celebration of cultural and architectural heritage seen through the prism of contemporary art.

The exhibition opens at fifteen venues all over Manama and Muharraq on Thursday, 15 December 2016 and will remain on display until 15 March 2017.

Exhibition background

The Shaikh Ebrahim bin Mohamed Al Khalifa Center for Culture and Research, one of the leading cultural centers in Bahrain and the Middle East, has to date saved over twenty traditional Bahraini houses from demolition and decay and turned them into centers dedicated to preserving and celebrating Bahrain’s cultural heritage. Since 2002, over three hundred speakers, poets, musicians and artists have used its venues to present their art and debate issues of the day.

In January 2017, the Shaikh Ebrahim Center will celebrate its 15th anniversary. On this occasion, the center is hosting the exhibition “15/15” – inviting fifteen artists to create individual site-specific projects in fifteen of the restored historical Bahraini houses belonging to the Shaikh Ebrahim Center. The exhibition will be the lead event in a series of events celebrating this important milestone in the history of the center.

Exhibition concept

The exhibition “15/15” is a unique opportunity to discover Bahrain’s cultural and architectural heritage through the prism of contemporary artistic practice. Located in traditional urban conglomerations of Muharraq and Manama, the houses of the Shaikh Ebrahim Center present a unique point of departure for examining the interplay between traditions and heritage. A meeting of traditions, which root us and form the bedrock of our identity, and contemporary practice, which probes, questions, and looks into the future, forms the core of “15/15”. Fifteen artists were invited to create new and site-specific artworks inspired by the history of the individual buildings of the Shaikh Ebrahim Center, their architecture, or the personalities, missions and crafts to whom the buildings are dedicated. The individual projects each have a direct connection to the building, forming a unique response and dialogue.

The exhibition “15/15” was conceptualized and curated by Melissa Enders-Bhatia, Head of Art and Exhibitions at the Shaikh Ebrahim Center.

Exhibition venues, dates and timings

The exhibition “15/15” will be held at fifteen locations throughout Muharraq and Manama. Please refer to the section on the artists for individual artist names and locations.

The exhibition previews on Thursday, 15 December 2016, and runs until 15 March 2017. The opening hours of all the venues are Saturday to Thursday from 9am to 1pm and 4 to 7pm.

For further information about the Shaikh Ebrahim Center, its events and the series of restored houses, please visit us on www.shaikhebrahimcenter.org. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.


About the artists

For “15/15” some of Bahrain’s most prominent and established artists as well as the freshest, most promising talent on the island will be participating. They have created stunning site-specific artworks in the form of painting, photographic projects, installation and sculpture.

The details of the projects will be unveiled at the opening and released in a second, post-opening press release. Below are the individual artist bios and their locations.

Adnan Al Ahmed – Mohamed Bin Faris House for Sut Music, Muharraq

Educated in France, Adnan Al Ahmed is a painter and muralist with a long and distinguished artistic record. Over the years the artist has developed a unique painterly style characterized by simplified and geometric figures and compositions. Inspired by music, poetry, philosophy and personal memories, Adnan Al Ahmed’s work seeks to express deeply personal memories and thought processes that are simultaneously fundamentally human. The artist has exhibited prolifically in Bahrain, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt and Europe, particularly France. In 2014, he was awarded the Order of Efficiency First Class by His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.


Khalil Al Hashimi – Kurar House, Muharraq

Educated in the fine arts in Russia, Khalil Al Hashimi is one of Bahrain’s most renowned sculptors. Working predominantly in bronze, stone and wood, this artist’s works are versatile in their material and in the concepts that drive them. The artist’s particular strength is his ability to transform the nonphysical into the physical and reduce ideas to their bare elements, resulting in his abstracted and minimal aesthetic. The artist’s Bird series of 2010 has achieved an iconic status, marked by elegance of composition and superior execution. Khalil Al Hashimi has been exhibited widely throughout the Middle East and Europe. In Bahrain his work has shown at the Bahrain National Museum, the Bin Matar House and Albareh Art Gallery.


Hala Al Khalifa – Shaikh Ebrahim Center for Culture and Research, Muharraq

With degrees in Fine Arts from Tufts University (Boston, USA) and Slade School of Fine Arts (London, UK), Hala Al Khalifa’s artistic repertoire includes multiple media, ranging from painting to installation and video. The artist has participated in numerous group and solo exhibitions in London, Egypt, Kuwait, Qatar, and the UAE. In Bahrain her work has been shown at the Bahrain National Museum, Al Riwaq Art Space and the Bin Matar House. Her solo exhibition “Sea” (Bin Matar House, Bahrain, 2013) was a milestone in the artist’s oeuvre, exploring the legacy of pearly diving in Bahrain’s heritage and national identity through gigantic and interactive fishing net installations and video.


Hanan Al Khalifa – Ibrahim Al Arrayed House for Press Heritage, Muharraq

Hanan Al Khalifa‘s fascination with photography dates back more than 30 years. While she travels widely with her camera as companion, it is in documenting Bahrain, the place where she was born and raised, where her passion truly lies. Over the years, Hanan Al Khalifa has gathered a massive archive reflecting the rich and diverse spirit of the island of Bahrain. She is currently the president of the Photography Club at the Bahrain Art Society.


Haya Al Khalifa – Memory of the House, Muharraq

Haya Al Khalifa’s is a writer and documentary photographer living in Bahrain. Her photographic work focuses on the changing cultural and natural landscape of Bahrain. Her series “A View from Above” (2011) captured the rarely seen canopy of the island of Bahrain.  More recently, the artist has completed two environmental portraiture series, “Shimmering Sands” and “By the Sea,” in which she uses studio lighting outdoors and in the natural environment of her subjects. Haya Al Khalifa’s work has been selected for group exhibitions in Bahrain at the Bin Matar House, Al Riwaq Art Space, and the exhibition “Recreational Purpose” at the Bahrain National Museum (2014).


Rashid Al Khalifa – Khalaf House – Memory of Manama, Manama

Trained in England, Rashid Al Khalifa’s artistic journey has taken him from landscapes and figurative paintings in the early years to abstract and color field painting, mounted on unique convex canvases. Through his retrospective at the Bahrain National Museum in 2010, Rashid Al Khalifa came to the attention of the wider art world. The artist has recently expanded his color field work to enamel paint on chrome convex structures. Al Khalifa’s creations have been exhibited internationally, and reached the 56th Venice Art Biennale and the tRio Biennal in Rio in 2015. Rashid Al Khalifa is a leading figure in Bahrain’s art world – as an artist, an avid supporter of the arts and founder of the Bahrain Art Society.


Ayesha Al Moayyed – Al Nukhida House, Muharraq

With a recent master’s degree in Fine Arts from Goldsmith’s University, London, artist has already made a remarkable impression in Bahrain by being the youngest winner of the country’s coveted Al Dana Prize, the highest honor the country bestows on its artists during the annual Fine Art Exhibition. Ayesha Almoayyed’s work is inherently experimental and encompassed drawing, photography and installation. Central to her work in an exploration of Bahrain – it’s society and transformation of the built and natural environment.  The artist has exhibited in Bahrain and the UK.


Jaffar Al Oraibi – Lukmatina Cafe, Muharraq

Jaffar Al Oraibi is a painter and works mostly in oil on canvas. Featuring towering male figures and an array of animals, his large canvases explore issues relating to social pressures and gender expectations. With a fluid and gestural technique and dominant use of black, his works are a strong voice in Bahrain’s art world. His exhibition “The Man” at Al Riwaq Art Space in 2010 brought the artist to wider attention, followed by two shows at Cuadro Art Gallery (Dubai, UAE) in 2011 and 2012. Jaffar Al Oraibi has participated in international artist residencies in Paris, London and New York.


Ebrahim BuSaad – Al Nuzul House, Muharraq

Ebrahim Bu-Saad was educated as an artist in Iraq and is a founding member of the Bahrain Art Society. BuSaad is a brilliant calligrapher and colorist, and both elements are always present in his paintings, drawings and prints. His work is inspired by his immediate surroundings – the alleys, people, old quarters and dhows that characterize the old town of Muharraq, where he was born. With a great zest for life, women, birds and musical instruments feature prominently in the artist’s oeuvre. Ebrahim Bu Saad’s work has been shown in Bahrain, the Cairo and Sharjah Biennales and is the recipient of the Al Dana Award (Bahrain) and the Golden Palm Award (Qatar).


Balqees Fakhro – House of Coffee, Muharraq

Educated in the US, Balqees Fakhro is one of the most distinguished abstract painters from the Gulf region. Her large canvases are inspired by the memory of specific experiences and places. In her work, she investigates pre-historic art and objects as surfaces and the primal as a site of memory in the region. One of the most prominent female artists in Bahrain, Balqees Fakhro has been a central figure in the development of the country’s sector and is also an active writer, art critic and lecturer. The artist has exhibited widely in the Middle East, Europe and the US.


Ghada Khunji – Abdulla Al Zayed House of Poetry, Manama

US educated photographer Ghada Khunji has recently returned to her home Bahrain after a 20 plus year sojourn in New York. Khunji’s photographs document both landscapes and people from all over the world and are known for the inherent dignity of their human element. After a career focused on fashion and then documentary photography, the return to Bahrain has led to a substantial shift in the artist’s focus. In a reversal of perspective, Ghada Khunji’s works of 2015 and 2016 focus on the artist herself, her identity, gender and own mortality. Ghada Khunji is the recipient of numerous international photography award, including the Lucie Award, the Prix-Pictet and the Julia Margaret Cameron Award.


Waheeda Malullah – IQRA Children’s Library, Muharraq

Playful exploration is the hallmark of Waheeda Malullah’s photographs, videos and interactive installations. Malullah examines the world of girls and women in her community as well as the cultural and religious norms, rules and systems that govern their life. Characteristically, Mallulah produces her artwork in extensive photographic series, which are presented in a stop motion format. Waheeda Malullah was invited to participate in the Sharjah and Cairo Biennials in 2009, culminating in her participation in Bahrain’s national pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale in 2013.  A recent retrospective at the Bin Matar House (Bahrain, 2016) showed the full scope of her impressive photographic oeuvre for the first time.


Faisal Samra – Mohamed Bin Faris Music Hall, Muharraq

Educated in Paris, France at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux Arts, Faisal Samra is a leading Arab artist and pioneer of conceptual art in the Middle East. The artist’s oeuvre spans painting, sculpture, photography, video and installation. Always one to break with conventions, the human body is central to Samra’s work as he explores existentialist and political themes, questioning the status quo and our perception of ourselves. His recent exhibition “Global Warming” at the Bin Matar House (Bahrain, 2015), critically explored the events of the Arab Spring through a juxtaposition of paintings, installation and video.


Abdulrahim Sharif – Buzaboon House, Muharraq

A precocious talent, Abdulrahim Sharif studied Fine Art at the Ecole National Superieure in Paris and Parsons School of Art and Design. As one of Bahrain’s leading artists, Abdulrahim Sharif is a formidable painter. Figurative and at times verging on abstraction, the artist touches on themes of alienation and indifference, and equally well explores/experiments purely formally in realm of color. His most well recognized image is that of the artist with a cigar and hat. A longtime favorite with Christie’s, the artist is well sought after by collectors in the Middle East. As a founding member of the Bahrain Art Society and lecturer in fine arts at the University of Bahrain, Sharif plays a central role in Bahrain’s art world.


Camille Zakharia– Bin Matar House – Memory of the Place, Muharraq

Camille Zakharia is a documentary photographer and collage artist. Born in Lebanon, Zakharia has led an itinerant life that has taken him to the US, Greece, Turkey, Canada and finally Bahrain, where he has lived and worked for over 20 years. His collage work focuses on memory and displacement, identity and belonging.  Additionally, the artist has one of the largest archives of documentary photographs on the changing urban landscape in Bahrain. Camille Zakharia is regularly featured in prestigious photography exhibitions and biennials worldwide and was one of three artists representing Bahrain in its first national pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale in 2013.