Guest of Honour – La Biennale Paris



Kingdom is ‘Guest of Honor Country’ in prestigious international art festival with

largest pavilion


As the “Guest of Honour Country” in this year’s prestigious art show La Biennale Paris, the Kingdom of Bahrain is all set to make a strong cultural statement that combines its thriving contemporary art movement, its timeless craft heritage and a specially produced film on the Kingdom’s cultural persona. The Bahrain Pavilion at La Biennale, aims to strengthen creative links between France and Bahrain, promoting cross cultural dialogue. Celebrating Bahrain’s rich history as one of the oldest cultures in the Middle East, the pavilion is intended to introduce art collectors and enthusiasts to Bahrain’s artists and artisanal craftsmen.

With the map of Bahrain emblazoned on a panel towering over guests as they approached the pavilion, the Kingdom’s creative presence was felt by all.

“The presence of the Kingdom of Bahrain as a Guest of Honour at La Biennale Paris has given a new international dimension to the show,” said Mathias Ary Jan, President of the Syndicat National des Antiquaires, which organizes the biennale, “In a pavilion designed by Nathalie Crinière, the focus was on Bahrain’s culture and the engaging cultural vision of this Gulf country. We are delighted that this robust presence along with the excellence of contemporary Bahraini art attracted collectors from the region and also other parts of the world.”

The Gala Dinner that traditionally marks the opening of La Biennale Paris was attended by H.E. Shaikh Mohammed bin Isa Al Khalifa, Chairman of Tamkeen, the Strategic Partner of ArtBAB and by the Ambassador of Bahrain to France, H.E. Dr. Mohammed Abdulghaffar Abdulla.  There was also a high-powered VVIP opening before the art show opened to the world from September 13 to 17.

During the prestigious Gala Dinner, H.E. Shaikh Mohammed bin Isa Al Khalifa, Chairman of Tamkeen also met with the French Culture Minister H.E. Franck Reister.

“The presence of the Kingdom with 21 artists and nine artisans in a specially designed 364 square-metre ArtBAB Pavilion – which is the largest in the show –  is expected to take forward a different narrative about Bahrain on the world stage, one that will underscore the vivid cultural sensitivity and heritage of the Kingdom,” said Kaneka Subberwal, under whose direction the Biennale project has come to fruition, “This is also a double celebration, as, for the first time, nine of Bahrain’s traditional artisans too were part of the exhibitors, taking the narrative of the Kingdom’s rich legacy & heritage to an audience of art connoisseurs.”

The art exhibition was curated by noted art critic, exhibition curator and editor, Pascale Le Thorel and artist and curator Amal Khalaf, both influential and knowledgeable in the global art world.


Two unique features

Two of the unique features of the Bahrain presence at the show, were an exhibition of The Pearl Room which used rare artefacts and pearl jewellery from the House of Mattar Jewellers, to illustrate Bahrain’s pearling heritage and history. Ancient scholars, merchants and travellers wrote about the pearl fisheries of Bahrain and the exquisite Bahraini pearls. This long cultural and

economic history of pearl diving and the pearl trade how it echoes and manifests in contemporary culture, was interpreted through the exhibits in The Pearl Room.

There was also the screening of a specially produced film called “Coming of Age” written by Latifa Al Khalifa and directed by Giles Cayette. Conceptualised and curated by Kaneka Subberwal, the film is an eloquent tribute to the art heritage of Bahrain.


A curated statement

Over forty works of contemporary Bahraini art by 21 selected artists and eleven beautifully curated wood collectible pieces of The Bahrain Room project were showcased at La Biennale Paris.

The showcase of Bahraini contemporary art and the cultural narrative of the Kingdom’s handicrafts in La Biennale Paris represents a major accomplishment for the Kingdom’s artists who have established their footprint across Borders. The Bahrain Room exhibits included 2 wall art installations and furniture collectible pieces highlighting the traditional handicraft techniques of Bahrain.

La Biennale Paris has provided valuable exposure of Bahraini craft skills and their contemporary revival – we showcased intricate copper nail art, Bani Jamra weaving, gypsum panel work, woodcraft and ceramic art from The Bahrain Room project on display.


Valuable exposure

This will be the second time that Art Select has taken Bahraini artists to Paris, having organized a hugely successful Bahrain Art Week in Paris at exactly the same time last year.

Participating Artists

  • Abdulla Buhijji
  • Abdul Rahim Sharif
  • Ahmed Anan
  • Aysha Al Moayyed
  • Hamed Al Bosta
  • Hala Kaiksow
  • Somaya  Abdulghani
  • Jaafar Al Haddad
  • Balqees Fakhro
  • Ghada Khunji
  • Hesham Sharif
  • Ishaq Madan
  • Jamal Abdulrahim
  • Khalid Al Jabri
  • Lulwa Al Khalifa
  • Maryam Al Amin
  • Maryam Al Noaimi
  • Marwa Al Khalifa
  • Nabeela Al Khayer
  • Noof Alrefaei
  • Omar Al Rashed


Participating Artisans

  • Abdulhusain Yusuf Mohamed Hasan – Beni Jamra weaver
  • Wahab Taqi – wood carving
  • Ali Mohammed – wood carving
  • Najeeb Herz Rashed Alshomali – wood carving
  • Alawi Furnitures – wood carving ceramics artisan
  • Ghada AlKhuzaei – ceramics
  • Noora Fraidoon – Metal engraving
  • Jaffar A.Hussain Yaqoob Yousif – gypsum
  • Abdul-Rasool Kadhem Ahme – copper nail work



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