Albareh Art Gallery is an independent gallery founded in 1998 and managed by Hayfa Al Jishi. Albareh is a fully curated art space committed to presenting a broad range of international artists, with an emphasis on contemporary art from the Middle East, and provides alternative spaces for art education and workshops.
The gallery represents a number of mid-career artists from Bahrain and elsewhere, but also represents artists such as the Sudanese painter Mohammed Omar Khalil, Lebanese photographer Camille Zakharia, or the legacy of pioneer Bahraini painter Nasser Al Yousif. All the shows at the gallery are curated by Mrs. Al Jishi, an art patron and collector, putting an emphasis on patronage and development for artists, going beyond the purely commercial gallery.
Conceived as a multifunctional art space, the gallery has a rich calendar of exhibitions and events, with a large portfolio of works for sale; there are also opportunities available for artistic residencies. In addition the gallery runs the ABCAD Art Center, hosted in an adjacent building, which is an attempt to bridge the gap between art, design and entrepreneurship through a variety of programs. ABCAD stands for Albareh Centre for Art, Design and Visual Culture. It offers different educational programs which make up for the lack of formal art education in Bahrain among children, young people and adults. This helps young artists from Bahrain to achieve their goals through for example the Artist Leadership program and the artistic residencies.
Albareh participates in international fairs and produces a large variety of catalogs and publications about visual arts in Bahrain and the larger region, most of which are available for consultation and purchase on-site.
For all its achievements and early pioneering in the Gulf art world, Albareh has not reached a level of visibility on the par with its extensive offer, partly due to the rise of Dubai in the mid-2000s, lack of opportunities for international cooperation and the complex geo-politics of the Gulf.
Nevertheless, the gallery has continued advancing its agenda of promoting contemporary art from the Middle East, exhibiting artists from Bahrain, empowering youth through art education and filling a gap in the local art scene by providing curatorship, guidance and professional opportunities for artists. In the end of 2013 the gallery will also add a new series of publications to their portfolio of activities. Albareh is thus one of the most dynamic elements of Bahrain’s art world, and an important place of call for anybody interested in getting to know the small kingdom’s art scene.
(thanks to Ari Amaya Akkermans for his input)
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