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Paris Biennale: 6 artists to discover

The Paris Biennale 2019 is opened from September 13th to 17th, under the glass roofed Grand Palais. And this year, Bahrain is under the spotlight through a dedicated pavilion. The opportunity to discover promising young artists.

Meaning “two seas” in Arabic, Bahrain is one of the oldest lands in the Middle East. This archipelago of 33 islands is famous for its freshwaters and palm trees. The artists and photographers represented during the biennale, pay tribute to this culture where the old flirts with the new…

Abdulla Buhijji

Abdulla Buhijji is a visual artist and designer based in Bahrain. His creations mix playful and provocative artistic installations which take a critical look at the society. Exhibited in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Buhijji has already been awarded the second prize at the Bahrain Fine Art Exhibition in 2019 for his collaborative work. As part of the Biennial, it presents three pieces with very pop colors composed of blue or pink gradient lines incorporating repainted metal scales. “In Bahrain, parents often want to lead us in one direction and think they know what is good for us, rather than listen to what we want. This installation contradicts this. 


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I was honoured to be part of the @labiennaleparis this year, representing the Kingdom of Bahrain under the contemporary art section with my new mixed media series, titled ‘Mirage’ . Thanks to all those who made it happen 💫 • ‘Mirage’ questions viewer’s agency in choice making and encourages them to reflect upon their journey by using the stairs and lines visuals as an allegory that references the system’s deception techniques. It sheds light on how the system could mislead us by blurring the lines between success and standards; convincing us with certain ideas for success ‘ideal life’ and painting those journeys in inviting ways that appeals for the masses. The artwork starts a conversation about how we can be radically mistaken with our choices in life because of the false perception resulted from the social pressure.

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Jaafar Haddad

An architect by training, Jaafar el Haddad enjoys roaming the streets of Manama to capture the spirit of the city’s old buildings. In a desire to document the heritage but also to reconnect Manama with its inhabitants, he highlights the urban development of the city by confronting the old and the modern. In his picture Historical Turning Point, presented during the Biennale, we can see a part of the local souk of Manana with the rather traditional architecture, followed by the twin iconic towers of Bahrain (the World Trade Center) at the corner of the street. 

In Multiple Exposure, a project exhibited in his country and accessible on his blog, he superimposes photos of buildings on portraits of local residents. As this Indian migrant worker “Every week I photograph different parts of the city. What is interesting for me is to look at how people are connected to their city. Each building has a story in it, there is a story in every crack 

Khalid Aljabri

In his series of photographs entitled Danse Macabre, Khalid Aljabri explores the remains of wilderness in Bahrain. Exhibited here is a triptych in which one sees an isolated tree in the middle of the desert on a blurry background of blue, his series recalls the roots of the country and its insular origin. An aspect sometimes forgotten by its inhabitants, lost between the modern and climbing glass towers “Although surrounded by the sea, the Bahrainis have very little connection to it. For this series, I went to a beach very far away from where people never go. That’s where I found this tree, dying. What I want is to remind people of their heritage and to raise awareness of the natural beauty of their country. 


Maryam Al Noaimi

Also an architect, Maryam uses photography to capture the details that people no longer notice in a world where everything changes so fast. She has already participated in two exhibitions organized by Bahrain’s Culture and Antiquities Authority: “Manama through the lens” and “Doors of Muharraq”. At the Biennial, she presents three photos: When in Manama 1, When in Manama 2 and When in abandoned hotel 1. Three pictures where she depicts old neighborhoods of her city, through poetic details and traces of urban changes.

Mattar jewelers

Born from a large family of pearl merchants, Reem and Lubna Mattar are jewelry designers from Bahrain. Among their creations: different jewels and items (comb, crown, necklace…) which have all in common to be made of pearls from Bahrain. A tribute to a long national tradition and to their ancestors, both known for pearl fishing. A very sophisticated work, each pearl being different in size and colors. “With pearls, we work differently than other creators. We collect first, then we try to create a jewel from what we have. While other designers will think of their creation first, then order the raw material. “

See also

A tribute to women at the first Rabat Art Biennale

Maryam Allami

Young graphic designer freshly graduated from the Chelsea Art School in interior and spatial decoration, followed by a Master’s in theater and design production. She presents at the Biennale two works very inspired by pop art that mix aesthetic kitsch and reference to the society of consumption.

Published on 17 September 2019


#Paris Biennale