When we look at the artworks of Hamad Al Saab & Ali Sultan (Hamad & Ali) we can’t ignore the sense of harmony to the past, the “beautiful” past! Not in the Italian or French art history. But in Kuwait & Arab history in the fasinating age of 1950’s & 1960’s.
In an exclusive interview with Ladashia, Hamad Al Saab talks to us about Pop Art, (Public Communications) in MENASART Fair 2011, challenges they faced and much more surprises!
Al Maha: Many people wonder what is Pop Art; can you tell us about it?
Hamad Al Saab: Pop Art is a contemporary art, appeared in 1950s &1960s. One of it’s most popluar icons is Andy Warhol.
The word Pop comes from Popular. When Pop Art first started it focused on popular people A.K.A celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe. Then it expanded to include everything popular from habits to music & social icons! You will find Pepsi in pop art.
Al Maha: What makes Hamad & Ali Pop Art unique?!
Hamad Al Saab: Our Pop Art is based on vintage popular people & habits in the Arab world. We started with Arab celebrities in their glamour days, such as Roshdi Abatha, Hend Rostom, Fayroz. Our goal is to bring back the beauty of Arabic cultural and educated new generation about the forgotten yet rich & original history.
Al Maha: Tell us about your participation in MENASART FAIR 2011 in Beirut..
Hamad Al Saab: We are participating with (Public Communication) from our collection (Reminiscing in Kuwait). It features a man using the public telephone and right next to him is a mail box.
This particular artwork is originally a black & white image we found in a 1963 magazine; represents the first mail box & public telephone installed in Kuwait.
It rises the questions of where are the public communications nowadays?!They disappeared! You don’t see any public phones or mail boxes in Kuwait anymore; although in countries like Britain & USA they still use them. They are part of our history that’s been neglected.
Another question we ask here is what happened to human communication?! It is so sad to see it weakening because of the wrong usage of new technologies; that are suppose to to bring us closer not expand the distance.
Al Maha: Tell us more about (Reminiscing in Kuwait) Collection…
Hamad Al Saab: Well, (Reminiscing in Kuwait) focus on Kuwait traditions & cultural. This collection is based on a vintage magazines we collected called (Arab Observer), it dedicated its February, 25th 1963 issue to talk about Kuwait as a “land of promise” quoting the magazine.
All the articles in that issue were breathtaking! Pointing out Kuwait as a pioneer rising country in the Middle East in education, cultural, economics, social, political fields. The articles made us wonder “what happened?!” “where were we… and where are we now?!” translating these question into artworks that includes images & words; emphasizing the viewer to ask questions & have the final judgment in our present.
Take the Education sector in Kuwait for example; one of our artworks shows a classroom in an old Kuwaiti school & says: “when a child holds a pen he draws a path .. But when an adult holds a pen with a particular agenda, he creats a web that prevents the cild from pursuing his path”.
Through our artworks; we raise up essential questions in an indirect way.
Al Maha: Hamad&Ali are the first to introduce Pop Art in Kuwait; what are the challenges you faced in the beginning?!
Hamad Al Saab: The challenge was to find a sponsor to exhibit our artwork & present us to the cultural community. Our 1st four exhibitions were all on own expenses. Thankfully we successed with the large support we got. But there are a lot of creativities that are hidden because they don’t get the push they need in the beginning.
Al Maha: what are your upcoming projects?!
Hamad Al Saab: We proudly announce that we are in the process of creating our own digital archive for Kuwait’s culture & history from the vintage magazine we collected. We have magazines & articles about Kuwait that goes back to the 1930s 1940s 1950s & 1960s! They all reflect the beautiful history of Kuwait. We will dedicate it to American University in Kuwait (AUK).
We will showcase in Dar Al Fonon soon & we are focusing on participating in regional international art fairs & exhibitions to capture the eyes on Kuwait contemporary art & bring Kuwait back to the map art.
Al Maha: A piece of advice for the young artists..
Hamad Al Saab: The potential is very big! We have a lot of creative talents. But unfortunately there’s no support for the upcoming artists!
Kuwait National Council for Culture, Art & Literature is suppose to play a bigger role in providing support & sponsor young Kuwaiti artists; give them the chance to prove themselves & shine!
We also need a new “art rhythm” to enrich Kuwait contemporary art movement, it is not hard to find them. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank FA Gallery for bringing out Kuwait to the art community by participating for the 1st time in MENASART Fair 2011 in Beirut; a lot of art collectors and international artists praised our work, this gives us motivation to move forward & expand further in the art community.
When I saw (Public Communication) I felt harmony to the past, a past I was never exposed to and rarely saw in pictures.
The artwork features a man wearing Dishdasha -a long traditional dress worn by men in the Gulf, his Qitra – a head cover worn also by men- is worn in a reckless funky way, and sunglasses. Calling someone and holding a cigarette in the other hand.
His “funky” look shows how easy going life was back in the days, when people judge less on one’s appearance, cared about the social harmony and communication between each other. Back in the days when art was seen as a cultural message not just paintings & brushes.
Hamad & Ali use strong colors to grab your attention & catch your eyes. Each artwork in their latest collection (Reminiscing in Kuwait) delivers a strong message that is too hard to ignore.