- Published on Friday, 05 August 2011 09:02
- Category: Art
Last week, the Levantine Cultural Center hosted Hybrid, an art exhibition showcasing the works of Khalid Hussein. The public and art enthusiasts alike were also treated to an interesting discussion with the artist himself at the “Art and the Arab Spring” panel discussion on July 28.
Hussein engaged in one-on-one discussions with guests to share the meaning behind his paintings, and concluded the evening with a comprehensive presentation on the “Arab Spring” and its relevance to art. He describes his work as a “political series inspired by the people of the Middle East.” Hussein started working on his collection in December 2010, but since the outbreak of revolutions in the Middle East, he has focused on studying the state of affairs of that region more deeply. The political and social references in his work relate to the ongoing political and social issues of the region, and serve to raise awareness about the trials and triumphs of people struggling for a brighter future. The fight for freedom and democracy, and the will to bring about meaningful change, are all reflected in Hussein’s paintings.
Hussein argues for the role of art in youthful uprisings, giving examples of graffiti, music, and cyber-activism used to make young voices heard despite the absence of free speech in countries like Tunisia and Egypt.
“Art has the potential to change,” he told Aslan Media. “There is convergence of art and protests happening in the Middle East.”
Referencing the case of Muhammad Al Bouazizi, the fruit seller in Tunisia who set himself on fire as a result of his frustration with poverty and unemployment, lighting the spark of revolution in that country, Hussein asserted that what Al Bouazizi did was a “public performance” because he made a statement through his behavior. “His performance achieved what art aims to,” Hussein said.
Besides making political references in his work, Hussein seeks to combine an element of fantasy, hoping to leave the meaning in his paintings open-ended for his audiences. He likes to combine global public images, such as Superman and the Coke bottle, with scenarios from the Middle East to discover new dimensions. For him, art is a form of researching images, contrasting various situations to explore the juxtaposition of eastern and western ideologies. One of his paintings, titled “What’s that Sound,” depicts the use of Coke during the uprisings in Egypt with the prominent Al Jazeera LIVE logo. He explains that protesters took to washing away the acid from their eyes with Coke to clear out the effects of the grenades that the Egyptian forces used to bring them down. His painting is also a remark about the irony of using one “Made in America” product to counter another: Arab dictators.
*The Levantine Cultural Center is the fiscal sponsor for Aslan Media Initiatives.*
By Alnas Zia, Aslan Media Contributor