‘In Parallel’ – Extended report – Sheikh Rashid Al Khalifa

March 2019:  The short local news report which Who Does What.tv produced for the online channels can be seen here. News reports are often a tad snipped and don’t always depict the atmosphere or temperament of the event.  That applies to all types of news reports.  So;  ‘In Parallel’ – Extended report – Sheikh Rashid Al Khalifa’ rides again here, allowing a slightly more in depth appreciation of this rather well received expo.

The Perfectionist. Alluring. What the……   Rashid Al Khalifa is not a Virgo, but perhaps should have been. The man has already firmly established himself internationally as a reputable artist just by the quality and indeed variety of his work. A good question for any journalist might be; ‘Which comes first, being Bahraini or being an Artist’? Art has no nationality, but Bahrain is extremely proud of this man and a few others who are championing the field these days. Now Rashid’s portfolio is expanding rapidly with much more to come for sure. Yes, he is a professional artist, but finding the time to do what he obviously lives for with a passion, astounds many around him.

Living in two completely different worlds; for a start, Rashid Al Khalifa is a Bahrain Royal, with a serious job which takes up considerable time in government. When not away on official business, his life is taken up daily with very important matters to deal with, which the general public thoroughly rely on, so he rarely if ever is not at his desk. Yet, suddenly from nowhere, a new piece springs up. “When did you get time to do that’? Asks his friends. He must create in his sleep, for it is not only oil on canvas that this true artist produces, but a wide variety of complex solid shapes, perfectly crafted in Aluminium and so on.  Looking at these works, it is not rocket science to assess that it is a medium which not many artists dare dabble in, but on the other hand, it is almost rocket science as to the precision that these pieces display.

Knowing the man well as we do, travelling with him on some of his more elaborate exhibitions, it is immediately obvious, that Rashid ‘knows his stuff’ so to speak.  He is not a casual artist as it might appear to some, even if he sometimes pretends to be with his laid-back approach to those around him. Look at this video or any of the other videos whodoeswhat.tv has produced for this very talented individual and it is plainly apparently that Rashid Al Khalifa relishes critique of his work and will engage with anyone who takes a moment to approach him.  Nothing is a short quip or a simple thank you, Rashid will happily explain in glorious detail what it is you are looking at. He will also accurately date such works, even though some go back a few decades.

This is what ‘In Parallel’ was all about.  A depiction through the decades, linked by colour. Rashid Al Khalifa is a very modern highly educated man, but artistically he is firmly ensconced in the area culture and his works depict this in the main. Wadis, sand, old structures, he handles it all. Take his Mashrabia works; hanging metal mobiles giving way to shadows and shade where viewers can see out, but voyeurs have a hard time seeing in.  This is Arab culture and prevalent in village structures.

Unlike the Saatchi Gallery in London, Bait Muzna, although spacious would have a logistical problem displaying some of Rashid Al Khalifa’s larger exhibits. So all in all, a good cross section was put up.  Sometimes bordering more on abstract in his earlier years, Rashid’s work is clear to understand no matter what.  It is what it is and no amount of bending, twisting or fantasizing of what it reminds you of, is really necessary. Isn’t this how experts recognize the classic works of famous artists?  It’s a Rembrandt they exclaim. ‘Oh look, we’ve discovered an unsigned Salvador Dali’ (they wish)! Did they know that Rashid Al Khalifa painted or constructed it?  Well, maybe not tonight, but the night is still young as they say and the Hallmark and style is Rashid all over.