Kuwaiti Artist Shurooq Amin: It’s a Mad World

Provocative, visually seductive and “anti-Islamic” are some of the many emphatic adjectives used to describe the work of Kuwaiti-born, internationally renowned artist Shurooq Amin.

It’s been 4 years since the artist was banned from exhibiting in her home country due to artwork which was considered too racially charged and inappropriate. Shurooq’s 2012 exhibition entitled “It’s A Man’s World” was notoriously shutdown after a mere three hours of opening for being “pornographic” and “anti-Islamic”.

The paintings captured local Kuwaitis consuming alcohol, homosexual activity and drug abuse. Shurooq recalls how her fellow artists resented her for bringing them into the spotlight alongside her, but she insists that it wasn’t intentional. She pushed the boundaries of art in Kuwait as well as opened to the dialogue around censorship.

“Stifling Creativity Is Not Part Of The Country’s Ethos”

Insists Khalid Alhamad, a member of the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters in Kuwait, the problem lies in the establishment of boundaries of offensiveness; if artists do not know the boundaries they will never know to what extent they are transgressing them. But then it calls into the question of art within boundaries anyway, surely an archaic notion for the concept modern creativity?

Fortunately with the establishment of global arts organisations promoting the work of artists from the Middle East, like the Ayyam Gallery, Edge of Arabia (London), the Crossway Foundation (London) and The Mosaic Rooms; their creative statements are able to transcend the physical and artistic boundaries of their countries and reach a wider, international audience.

Out Of Kuwait: Debut in London

Back in 2014, The British Council organised the “Out of Kuwait” exhibition along with the support of Edge of Arabia. The exhibition debuted the work of 13 emerging Kuwaiti artists whose work explores the social, economic and cultural aspects of life in Kuwait. This was the first time their work was showcased in the United Kingdom.

Abdulaziz Alhumaidhi, one of the 13 artists represented at the exhibition moved to London after graduating to work with MAKE architects. He has since returned to Kuwait where he owns his own architecture firm.

Alhumaidhi expressed his gratitude to the organisation of the exhibition: “it's a wonderful platform to move these thoughts forward by exposing them to an international audience”. His works expresses the concerns he has for the limitations on the aspirations of the younger generation in his country.