Photo: Neil van der Linden

Al Riwaq Art Space Manama, interior. Photo NeilvdL.

The Al Riwaq Art Space is a residency venue, rather than a gallery, although there are objects on sale as well.

The place was started by Bayan Kanoo, herself an Iraqi, her husband being a member of the influential Bahraini Kanoo family.

In many ways, the Al Riwaq Art Space reflects the situation of Bahrain, which could have been the best place in the region, but for now its position is tainted. The same goes for Al Riwaq Art Space: it has everything to be one of the most enjoyable art venues in the entire region, but its position is problematic. Al Riwaq cooperates with, for instance, the Townhouse Gallery in Cairo, Ashkalalwan in Beirut and with the Delphina Foundation, all illustrious partners. The design of the place and its website are impeccable. It is spending a lot of effort to remain on par with the international level with its partners, and it tries to bypass the situation the country is in. But this leads to a feeling of a state of denial rather than of a sound engagement at a certain distance, which might give the place a useful critical position. Moreover, Al Riwaq Art Space has continuously invited some of the most interesting artists from the region; it has supported them and enabled them to interact with other international and local artists, and young arts managers. But, now there is a feeling that it is not the most widely accessible venue to locals from all walks of life and all sections of society.

Some of the artists in residence have included: Tarek Atoui (Lebanon), Susan Hefuna (Egypt/Germany), Munira Al Solh (Lebanon/Netherlands) and Amirali Navaei (Iran; noteworthy) participated.

In 2010, Al Riwaq Art Space opened its current venue with an ambitious exhibition, ‘As The Land Expands’, where among others Wael Shawky, Basim Magdy, Mounir Fatmi, Fayçal Baghriche, Can Altay and Munira Al Solh participated or were presented.

Visiting Dutch-Kuwaiti artist Mo Reda collaborated with artists from Bahrain on an exhibition that takes place in an abandoned restaurant near the Al-Riwaq venue.

Al Riwaq Art Space has a section where some works are on sale.





Written by: Neil Last modified: 17th Nov 2012
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