The Treasured Art of Huda Al Bakri
Accepting a job offer, I moved to Saudi Arabia, a country about whose culture I knew little. The first thing that surprised and amazed me was the widespread creativity of the people I met and the growing art world here, both private and well supported by the government. There are, in fact, Saudi artists who have been exhibiting internationally in recent years, as well as growing generations of multimedia artists launching their careers within the country. In short, art and creativity are widespread and well recognized as important.
The first young artist whose artworks I fell in love with were those of the painter Huda al Bakri. Her expressive paintings are extremely aesthetically appealing. They are also multimedia as she adds linoleum, ice cream sticks, cotton, sand, glitter and sometimes some different accessories to her paintings. The reason I can never see enough of her work is because one senses immediately when an artist possesses an authentic connection between their inner life, emotions, and subconscious and the work that comes out through their paintbrushes, pastels, cameras, digital media, sculptural media, etc. It is this connection that brings depth and multi-layeredness to art. Huda’s paintings also appear to me to integrate storytelling, another powerful medium and dimension; the stories that are evoked are covert and mysterious, leading viewers to look even more at her work and ponder over their interpretation, raising many questions as the paintings above evince. For example, who and where is the bird and what is the meaning of the focus on his foot? Her expressive dream series of paintings does the same and also offers a good synthesis between the figurative and the abstract. In her more realistic images of women, their faces and bodies clearly reveal that they are feeling and thinking something as viewers wonder about what.
A graduate of fine arts from a university in Riyadh, Huda has exhibited her work at the well-known Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall and will undoubtedly exhibit in many more places both within her country and abroad. Her art offers a new way of looking at oneself and the world.
Written by Valerie Behiery, Islamic Art historian, Ph.D