Nabeela Al Khayer is an intuitive, sensual and feminine woman that has reached to transmit all these in her artworks.
If you follow her evolution in her artworks, you can discover the deepness inside her beautiful soul.
She was born in Manama, the Kingdom of Bahrain. Nabeela Al Khayer creates stories of magical colors with bright and expressive female characters. She is herself a fulfilled woman and a successful person. She derives the joy of painting happy moments, women with positive messages, feelings of gratefulness and the power of fully living from these wonderful gifts: Life and Femininity. The women painted and portrayed by Nabeela are beautiful, feminine, pensive or active, but always full of vitality and charm.
The free spirited contemporary artist, who is also a successful businesswoman, in what remains a very masculine and traditional society, is driven by a fierce passion to inspire and empower women. Her appreciation for all that is feminine is expressed on every canvas, and in every heat-filled brushstroke. When looking at Nabeela’s canvases, it is impossible to oversee images depicted from the everyday life of a woman from Bahrain.
Her expressive portraits are brought to life through her vibrant use of colour and shape, and speak volumes of the life heartaches, struggles and joys that all women, regardless of their culture or socioeconomic status, share. Nabeela, who describes herself as a colorist, says she likes to ‘play’ with colour, fabric and paper photographs, and uses resin, oil, acrylic and water-colors to bring movement, energy, texture, and life to her work. All colours of the Earth have gathered in this small kingdom and it seems that this is all settled in the magical palette of Nabeela al Khayer.
Her portraits often include poetic notes written in the borders, adding an extra dimension to the canvas’s story. Nabeela, who developed her artistic skills in the Slade School of Fine Art in London and in workshops in Paris and Geneva, has held numerous solo and group exhibitions throughout the Middle East and across the globe. Her first solo art exhibition was held in Bahrain during 2002. In 2003 she was awarded the prestigious Silver Leaf Award, and since then she has held sell out exhibitions in the Middle East, Europe, New York and Asia.
Her work is among the collections of Bahrain National Museum, Jordan National Museum as well as in many private art collectors. As a contemporary artist in a conservative Middle Eastern society, Nabeela has come under fire for her choice of subject matter, however, despite at times igniting controversy, she continues to be well received by her countrymen and a growing international fan base.
Women play a central role in your art. What message do you hope to communicate through their portrayal in your work?
When I first started, I was influenced by the great women that surrounded me, including those in my family, friends and of course the many strong women in my country. These women were active not only at home, but in various fields including social and economic careers. Today, we can clearly see that women have reached high positions in our society and have created a firm presence in our community.
In my eyes, women are not only one half of our society but can be seen as society itself. In my work, I always strive to showcase a woman’s true value, role and importance in our society, which is not limited to aesthetics.
Another aspect that is very important to me is to display our beautiful Bahraini heritage and culture, while also showcasing women’s role in building and progressing our country.
Where do you find inspiration to create? Does it become easier with time?
All that which motivates me exists in my local surroundings, whether it be people or the beauty of out natural landscape. Bahrain is a beautiful country which by itself brings me all the motivation I need.
At the end of the day, as long as you love your work you will find beauty in everything. This coupled with a curiosity for life and knowledge that will fuel your research and experiences and bring you into a world of inspiration that brings out your artistic growth.
Are there any particular materials or tools that you prefer to work with?
As an artist, I love working with all available materials, whether they are difficult or easy to use. I don’t like to limit myself and as a result limit my artistic giving. I can implement my ideas using any material, even if it is hard to work with.
The truth is I like all mix media, and enjoy working even with pigment powder despite its difficulty of use.
What is the biggest challenge you face as an artist?
The biggest challenge for me is to constantly improve myself and bring new ideas into my artistic endeavours.
As an artist, I don’t like to repeat myself and always seek to create and innovate outside of the familiar framework. This is especially difficult in Bahrain, a country filled with great artistic energy and beautiful innovative minds. This energy pushes me to always go beyond my own limits so that I can be seen as a distinguished artist.
Do you have a favorite among your works? That one project that you feel most proud of?
To be honest, I love all my work and feel very connected to it, but I feel a great amount of pride and love for my latest work as I have used new methods which are somewhat hard to execute. These methods have not been used locally as of yet, and really showcases my 30 years of artistic experiences.
An achievement that brings me great pride and gratitude is the many invitations I have received over the years to prestigious international bienales, especially in France and Italy, countries known for their love and appreciation of art.
Another major source of pride is a personal art exhibition held in Italy that saw a number of revered artists in attendance. This exhibition had a huge impact on my artistic experience.
Do you have some influence in your art?
My memory is filled with the beautiful work of international and local artists that influence me in one way or another. Each of these artists has their own unique style that has made me leave exhibitions feeling dazzled and breathless.
I can say that I was greatly influenced by colours that took me into another world, which is what made me excel in my use of colours in my various works.
How would you describe the art community in Bahrain?
The artistic movement in Bahrain is constantly moving and evolving, we can see that by the number of art exhibitions held throughout the year. History shows that Bahrain is one of the first countries in the gulf that embraced it’s active art scene on the highest level. The pioneers in this field include Abdulkareem Al Arayedh, Hussain Al Sunni, Ahmed Baqer, Al Bosta and many others.
There are also those that gave these artists a platform to express themselves, which includes the Bahrain Arts Society founded by Shaikh Rashed Al Khalifa, and the Bahrain Contemporary Arts Association founded by Abdulkareem Al Arayedh.
The Bahraini scene is filled with a wide array of creative talents, whether male or female, representing various styles of art. There is also a youthful presence that has incorporated technology and other modern methods into their art. All this has contributed and allowed Bahrain to competently reach an international level of recognition.
What advice would you give to a novice artist?
Finally, I say to the young and talented artists of Bahrain, not as a critic but as an artist and an admirer, always strive to evolve and to better yourself. As an artist , it is important to experiment, to research and to make use of all the available tools, including modern technological methods. Art has no limits, and so those who practice it must continuously push past their own limitations and discover the unknown.