FA Gallery’s recent Group Art show, which ran from April 10th – 25th, gave Kuwait’s art lovers their first opportunity to view Amira Behbehani’s ‘The Cave in Realization’ (2011), which was first exhibited during the Contemporary Istanbul art fair at the end of last year. Known for her work on canvas with acrylic, as well as oils and ink, over the past years she has increasingly experimented with wood, enamels, and a variety of mixed media. It should, therefore, be unsurprising to see the artist extend her oeuvre further still and yet, because of the degree to which she has done it, surprising many.
The work, whose initial appearance is somewhat industrial in style, is a natural extension of all that has come before. It is the result of a continuing examination by the artist of herself and her surroundings.
“I wanted to find a way in which to create a cave, one that could be discovered in much the same way that I’ve explored and discovered caves myself, and had them reveal themselves to me”, she says.
To achieve this, Amira has created ‘cave-wall drawings’ showing a cityscape which includes images and icons very familiar to viewers of her work – amongst the eternal strip of buildings we find animals and people. Ink drawn, and with elements of mixed media added to good effect, the drawing is encased within a framework of industrial-grade steel.
Working closely with architect Hamad Qabazard, Amira added a lens which runs laterally and through which her cityscape can be viewed. She explains: “It would have been easy to have simply framed the cityscape and left it at that, but by adding the lens it forces the viewer to reveal the drawing piece by piece.”
Much as we may stand at the center of a cave, and look around us, a similar feeling is engendered by sliding the lens from left to right. Further adding to the mystery of the reveal, Amira fixed an arrangement of mirrors within the lens-tube – each of which gives an alternate view within her cave.
It is a work that cannot be ignored, nor one that fails to engage the viewer.
With this piece the viewer is obliged to examine the work, at close quarters and a few centimeters at a time. And yet the key to the piece is not the cityscape cave-wall drawings at all, it is in fact the process which must be followed during the act of viewing. Equally, the work illustrates that although there may be one reality, by being viewed differently and by a series of people, each will interpret their own ‘reality’ somewhat differently.
The piece currently remains the property of the artist.
First Published in Men's Passion Issue #40 May 2012