Acclaimed artist and member of the Bahrain royal family, Sheikh Rashid Al Khalifa recently showcased his works at an exhibition titled In Parallel at Bait Muzna Gallery in Muscat. Signature meets the artist who loves to push the boundaries of creativity

Renowned Bahraini artist and member of the royal family, Sheikh Rashid Al Khalifa takes art lovers through a mesmerising journey that portrays the evolution of his artistic style over the decades. Titled ‘In Parallel’, the exhibition was hosted at Bait Muzna Gallery in Muscat by Sayyida Susan Al Said.

The artist who started his artistic journey at a very young age did his formal training at Brighton University and Hastings Art College in Sussex. Sheikh Rashid has showcased his works in many solo exhibitions and biennials.

For the latest exhibition, Sheikh Rashid goes on an artistic voyage in time beginning with the 1970s and come to the later years on 2012 and ahead. Starting with landscape paintings that have a distinctive appeal to installations that make one stop and ponder over the colours and materials, the exhibition is a reflective journey of Sheikh Rashid’s evolving styles.

We met with Sheikh Rashid Al Khalifa on the sidelines of the exhibition for a quick chat to learn more about his work, his evolving styles of art and more.

Welcome to Oman. Has the Sultanate been on your countries to showcase your works in?

Thank you! I am very happy to finally exhibit my works in Oman. I feel disappointed for not coming here sooner. I am thankful to Sayyida Susan Al Said for organizing this exhibition and for inviting me here. This [Bait Muzna] is a lovely space to exhibit. I have always wanted to visit Oman and exhibit my artworks – I am happy it has finally happened. I am grateful to my curator, Yasmin Sharabi for helping with the works.

Please tell us about ‘In Parallel’.

In Parallel compares paintings and styles from different periods of the journey as an artist. There are works from the late 70s, early 80s as well as my latest works. This exhibition is a comparison and reflection on the work I have done with an emphasis on colours and effects. It is also a view into the different materials I have used and transitional periods of my life.

How has your work and style evolved over the years?

As an artist, one learns and move with time. I have experimented with styles, colours, textures and materials over the years. This has evolved me as an artist. One always needs to evolve as an artist. If you stop at a certain style or way of creating art, then I feel you have exhausted your knowledge and inspiration. We have so much more to learn from what we had, say, 40 years ago. We need to make use of this and let it inspire us as artists to create as well as evolve. There has been some change in the world and the art industry – we must adapt and change too for creativity.

How can one be creative in an era where galleries, critics or reviews matter as well?

If you let yourself be controlled by galleries, art critics, or reviews, then you will be restricted in your creativity. In my view you have to do whatever you think is right; whatever style makes you happy. Every artist should experiment with different styles and not restrict themselves to a particular style. While you may have to create a specific style for a gallery or exhibition, do not let that stop you from exploring your unique creative style. When there are restrictions placed on art, creative freedom gets hampered. And do not just create only for exhibitions or galleries – let your creative side work freely. Create for yourself as well.

What is your advice to aspiring artists?

As an artist, one should never give up. And never stop experimenting. Try different styles, mediums, materials…work with all possibilities till you find what you are most comfortable with. And even then, do not stop at that. Also, it’s important to get training in art. I wouldn’t say education but training.

I think it’s important for parents of aspiring artists to understand and encourage their children’s interest and passion for art. That’s where we need to begin. Even teachers need to encourage students to pursue art if that is where their interest lies. The encouragement from home and school is very important for any student who has an interest in art.

Your art has transformed over the years- from traditional to 3D and more. What inspires you to explore different forms?

Like I said before, one should never restrict to a particular style. As an artist, I feel art should not be limited to one style but it must evolve and thereby challenge the artist to explore new realms of creativity. I like to work with different textures, colours, materials…I don’t like to be restricted to a singular style of art.