Annie Kurkdjian Authentic Expression

Annie Kurkdjian’s Flight and Enclosure at albareh gallery is one of the most provocative exhibits I have seen in Bahrain.  Occasionally artists paint abaya-clad women or soft, ephemeral women whose faces remain obscured.  Kurkdjian’s work is provocative, not only because she is an Arab painting naked women, but because she reveals how they feel.

Upon entering, a woman bored out of her mind drew me across the entire gallery to the sunroom.  The woman/girl’s life is so tedious, the only thing she has to do is twiddle a tiny black box – or blank space – in her delicate fingers.  Her eyes are not filled with fear or anger, nor hope, nor joy – just boredom.  Actually her boredom is so great, she looks feeble-minded as if trapped in a state of perpetual adolescence.

All the naked women shared the same ennui.

After absorbing that initial impact, I toured the gallery to see if I could witness the artist’s evolution.

Her 2007 and 2008 paintings were done in dark colors and incorporated pain and archetypal symbols: witchy women, cages, ravens, mummified beings and blood.  Their darkness reflects the underworld; the psyche’s dark realms; and the artist’s experience as a young girl during Lebanon’s civil war.

annie kurkdjian #art man and woman 2012

Kurkdjian began to rise from the depths and into the world but with a changed perspective.  Since at least 2009, she incorporated a surrealist style and elongated her subjects’ limbs into curves only a Bahraini highway engineer could imagine.  She painted both women and men whose giraffe necks give them a 180 degree view of the world.

2013 Kurkdjian burst into the light of the living.  Her colors became brighter.  Her subjects were more vibrant as if new energy had entered the women’s lives.

Yet, despite escaping the darkness, in this new life, her young women cannot get out of bed.

annie kurkdjian bored woman bed  #art 2013

Lying across her bed like a wet noodle, the young woman has nothing to look forward to and cannot generate the will to participate in another dull day.

annie kurkdjian #art pained woman in bed 2013

Another cannot leave her bed because her boredom has become her pain, forcing her round, healthy body into a fetal position.

annie kurkdjian #art woman in bed with black box 2013

One woman is in so much actual pain, her fingernails dig furrows in her bedcovers.  Her wasted body can barely hold her “black box” which is horribly out of place.  She waits, presumably, for death.

When a few women do get out of bed, their day is spent in intimate investigation of their bodies. Three young women, echoing their Greek sisters, the muses, discover their beautiful, long braids are really chains.

annie kurkdjian #art #albareh flight and enclosure

For the exhibit’s catalog cover, the woman is actually dressed, but not for going out in public.  The highlight of her day is gobbling her food out of a giant, dog bowl which she does without real joy.

annie kurkdjian #art frankenstein woman 2013

Perhaps the young women see a future destined to be like this mother with her dyed hair and face like a Frankenstein monster.  Her body no longer her own, she  has become a creation sewn together by some mad doctor.  Resigned to the boredom of servitude, she lifts the tray and serves us her milk cups.

The exhibit’s official description was the usual art speak and made no sense to me.  What I saw was an exhibit describing the poor state of women’s lives, particularly those who have survived war.  Kurkdjian did not title her paintings.  Perhaps she did not need to as the women’s stories were in their bodies and eyes, not in their words.

ABOUT ALBAREH

Annie Kurkdjian’s exhibit runs through December 30, 2013 at albareh gallery in Adliyah.  I highly recommend it.  Click picture below for a link to online catalog.

annie kurkdjian #art #albareh flight and enclosure brochure

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Handmade Nation

Faythe Levine created a documentary about the “new” trend in America – handmade crafts and art.

Trend is probably the appropriate word since it usually refers to what Americans are buying today.  But two generations ago Americans, like my grandmother Louisa Burns, who crafted their own food, clothes and entertainment were the norm.

Growing up in Saudi Arabia before the Rashid Mall existed, my own mother used to sew clothes for us.  Once she sewed me a bathing suit.  Granted the moment I entered the sea, I wished she had spent the $20 to buy me a suit from Sears.  The material she choose stretched, and my bikini quietly floated off my body with the same leisurely stroke as the jelly fish around me.

Although I haven’t seen this film, my guess is this is about Americans who are discovering joy and pride in making their own stuff, instead of buying cheap, mass produced goods imported from China.

Calling this trend the RISE of Do-It-Yourself Art, Craft and Design seems a bit grand.  However, if you are of Ms. Levine’s mid-30s and under generation, maybe you are unaware that it is possible to knit your own socks, can fruit and mold your own soap.

Potentially this film may highlight the fact that many Americans, including young Americans, are out of work because corporations have moved their manufacturing and service jobs outside the USA.  If Americans are not highly educated, they are having difficulty finding high-paying jobs that can support them.  And like people in developing countries who do not have the cash to buy manufactured goods, these Americans are re-learning the art and craft of handmade items.

Whatever the message it is an excuse to enjoy a short film that may inspire you.

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