Making magic with murals

By Faten Omar and Majd Othman

Art is a form of unspoken communication that inspires others and brings them together. Kuwait Times decided to open its old printing press’ doors to artists from around the globe and allow their brushes to draw their thoughts, express their feelings and the colorfully paint the news they imagine.

Bahraini street artists Aref Mohammed and Salman Aljar decided to turn one of the walls into a women’s empowerment mural. “This is my first collaboration with Kuwait Times – the painting is about life and how women are strong in general. The mural is a mix between two cultures – European and Arab, to bring something unique to the GCC,” Mohammed told Kuwait Times. “The vibes of Kuwait Times’ printing area attracted me; also, I loved how we made connections with other participating artists in the place,” he added.

Aljar said Mohammed and he decided to paint something related to life and present the two cultures – both Arabian and Western. “We wrote ‘life’ in Arabic and drew a lotus – which symbolizes purity and spiritual awakening – to present peace and harmony between the two sides of the world,” he said.

Artist Jude, from the Philippines, told Kuwait Times that he and artists Redmond and Joelibert painted a mural of Che Guevara with a graffiti mask. “It has been a pleasure to paint on the wall of Kuwait Times and a great opportunity for us. It is a great achievement that we painted Che Guevara, who was an Argentinian Marxist revolutionary, physician, writer, guerrilla leader, diplomat and military theorist. The painting symbolizes great leadership,” he said.

Artist Ahmed Soliman ‘Bosho’, who illustrates characters and stories, choose the wall of Kuwait Times to paint about women’s empowerment. “Kuwait Times has been very supportive and made a lot of room for us to express the big theme of “women’s empowerment”. So for this wall, I thought I could get closer to the theme by keeping it simple. I’m using brushes to paint a woman sitting confidently and synchronized with her horse,” he said.

“When I saw the post about Kuwait Times’ old printing press on social media, I was interested. I saw the place and it was beautiful – a place where they used to print newspapers back in the sixties, so I thought I can do something for Kuwait. I sketched kids smiling with a headline reading ‘no bad news today’. Not having bad news was the reason for children to smile in the painting – good news will always make us smile,” artist Mohammed ‘Doss’ Al-Eidani said.

“I loved the experience of having different background artists from Kuwait and Bahrain. People liked my cartoonish painting and I was happy with the result. I had fun with Kuwait Times, and cannot wait for people to see it and smile,” he added.

“The drawing ‘Shoug’ has more than one perspective. The right side expresses a woman’s love, beauty, and beautiful feelings, while the left side shows the woman’s strength, toughness and the mighty serenity she enjoys. In order to be able to read the word, you must look at it from one angle, so that the deep details become clear,” said Hasan Ali Hajya, a Kuwaiti artist.

“The word ‘shoug’ – longing – expresses the period I went through with partial epilepsy and panic disorder, and how my longing always continues for my mother, who stood by me during all the health conditions I went through. When I visited the newspaper, I liked to keep the pictures of Kuwait’s sheikhs merged with the painting, because we have a great longing for them as they were great leaders and Kuwait still misses them,” Hajya added.

Dana Al-Mukaimi, a Kuwaiti artist, told Kuwait Times she has been painting since she was a child. “I had always been interested in all kinds of artistic creations. Having an idea in your mind, then creating it from nothingness, is a small representation of the human experience on earth,” she said. Regarding the main issues she has adopted in her mural, Mukaimi said: “Giving women the belief in their individuality, the right to have all the desires and strive for any aspirations no matter how different they are from what society or family dictate.” She added: “Many women have been programmed to fit into a set of roles. I want to challenge that.”

Mukaimi said she choose the theme of her painting, titled “Women’s Empowerment”, because the women’s rights movement is experiencing an awakening with women in the parliament and movements like Abolish 135. “Therefore, I loved the idea of having a role in it, no matter how small,” she added.

Rayan Al-Ghashem, Kuwaiti artist, said she started painting at the age of 10, saying she usually doesn’t stick to one theme in her drawings. “I draw how I feel like; I don’t have my own theme, but when I start drawing, the ideas flow spontaneously and that’s how art happens,” she said. She pointed out she chose this mural at Kuwait Times to demonstrate the idea that women are unstoppable and powerful beyond measure, and that they’re capable of pretty much everything on the planet. “Women can be adventurous, funny, angry, creative and intelligent,” Ghashem added.

Shaikha Alobaidli, or Mad Brush, as people call her, a Kuwaiti artist, was selected by her school since the age of nine to participate in many art competitions, which encouraged her to continue her journey in developing her skills. “In 2010, I started my first painting on the walls of my bedroom, as I got support from my mother, who appreciated my talent. Basically, I don’t have a certain way to choose my idea or theme. Sometimes, it comes like a thought or even a picture that just pops up in my mind, and I feel like it would be a great painting,” she said.

Regarding her mural at Kuwait Times, Alobaidli said: “The topic is about women. I like to draw something that shows a part of me and represents many of the women in the world who are strong and independent people who can’t be restricted by trammels, because they have the power. However, they spread love, give the world a better color and look by their inner beauty and kindness,” she said.

Saja Al-Saadon, a Kuwaiti artist, said she chose her painting’s theme because she wanted to draw something related to women’s empowerment. “When I thought about this topic, the first thing that popped in mind was my mother and how she is a strong person who manages and handles everything at our home as a single housewife. She inspired me to make this beautiful wall mural,” she told Kuwait Times. “I live in a family that it is close to art. I got my art talent from my family and they have supported me since I was a child. This encouraged me, and I am practicing every day until I have my own art exhibitions,” she added.

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