Um Kulthum

i'm in love with it, but it isn't over until she sings

I FINALLY started this painting. It’s been a long time coming now. I listened to some her music, watched some videos on youtube and printed some photos. I avoided the sunglasses because of two reasons: the first is that it’s been overdone and somehow the glasses came to represent her more than her voice. Secondly is: I’m a bit of a masochist. I think that I can accomplish it without the iconic glasses because I have faith in myself (crossing my fingers, mashallah mashallah mashallah and hope to die [rather, NOT to die]) and I like to give myself a bit of a challenge. Mind you the hanky is still there. My eleven year old son recognized the sketch as Um Kulthum. My daughter thought it was Mama Fatma (my granny).

New Sketchbook 2010 Pages 15-20

page 15. just a little kneady

page 16. hide and go seek

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Breakfast Madness

I was commissioned by The Early Bird‘s Bianca Simonian to create two to three drawings/pictures for her new Jabriya branch. This project really inspired me and I could have gone on and on with it. I was doubly inspired by a new batch of decopatch paper I got for my friends Bettina and Lubna’s bead shop, Lb o J’zazz. I just feel like I got some of my Mojo back. Thanks, girls!

I have posted scanned images of the drawings. I’m sorry to say that the paper, because it was doused in decopatch glue, appears more warped in the pictures than in real life. So please use your imagination’s eraser and rub those crinkles out! Read More

A New Painting

A few days ago I started a painting in oils. Oils proved to be more challenging than I remember, because I’m more accustomed to using acrylics. But I know I’ll adapt. I started this painting with the figure facing the viewer. Then I added another woman embracing the first. I rarely paint people interacting with one another but somehow this happened. And I have no idea what’s going to happen with the painting and if these two will be the only characters in my story. We’ll just have to wait and see.
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Cultural Re-Expressions 101

sharbika, 2003, acrylic on canvas, 185x325 cm

I loved painting the qutras (headscarves) on these men. The main character in the white, summer dishdasha is a little like the eating boy. He’s in his own world, sitting on his throne atop a hill, oblivious to all. In fact, it’s funny because this man in all his arrogance was based on someone I know; and who is the father of the boy who inspired boy eating. Again, this painting has little bits here and there that are influenced by my childhood memories of seeing these singers on Kuwait TV. The guy with the glass eye, the tantric state of these men. The painting is very nostalgic and is as much about the ashtray and matchbox as it is about these singing men.

My only regret about this painting (and a few others in the same series) is not stretching it myself.

Added February 4th, 2010: I had an e-mail complaint today that by ‘criticizing’ my painting (re: last line), I have ‘lower[ed] the artistic and physical value of the painting’. In what way is it ‘criticizing’ when I am ruing the fact that I didn’t personally handle the stretching of the painting-which was, incidentally, stretched AFTER completion? It’s such a shame when people read sloppily through my words. I am EXTREMELY fanatic about not only what and how I deliver my thoughts, but about the specific words I use. I write thoughtfully and deliberately. So please use great thought and deliberation when reading what I write. I would appreciate it, and it would save me a lot of trouble and heartache.

New Sketchbook 2010 Pages 13 & 14

page 13

page 14

Cultural Re-Expressions 101

boy eating, 2003, acrylic on canvas, 190x200 cm

In 2004, my brother Tareq and I collaborated on an exhibition of his conception and design which he used ‘Cultural Re-Expressions 101’ as a working title for. Soon, that title disappeared and it became ‘that show you did with your brother Tareq at the Life Shopping Center’. Basically, he had this idea to present a collection of paintings which depicted traditional Kuwaiti life through the eyes of a contemporary artist (me). It was very challenging for me because any time I work on something that is a ‘project’, I buckle up and I start churning up shit. So I had to be very careful not to be too literal and not to lose myself in the process. So for each painting, to keep myself sane and stay on the path which is truly Ghadah, I decided to ravel some kind of a storyline that related to me and my memories somehow. Another challenge was painting men. I can paint a man but I don’t enjoy it. It just goes against my natural flow of things.

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New Sketchbook 2010 Page 12

page 12. she needs to lighten up

My New Sketchbook 2010 Pages 9-11

page nine. dictated by the sit

page ten. ghost

page eleven. complete, but disjointed

My New Sketchbook 2010 Pages 1-8

page one. the first sketch is always the hardest and not particularly the best

I bought myself a new sketchbook. The last time I purchased a sketchbook of this sort was probably five years ago. I ordered two online because I couldn’t find the hard covered ones here. This time, however, I bought an A5 size because of my scanner and I do plan to take it with me. I also plan to document every single page. New year, new, organized me. It won’t matter whether the sketch is fine or not, it’s going to be blogged. I also bought a new pen, a Rotring .25 Isograph. I’ve been using this pen since high school back in the late eighties. If they discontinue this pen, I will die. Read More


This is a three panel painting I did in 2006. It was part of a collection of paintings I showed at Dar Al-Funoon Gallery that same year. I don’t remember the title or dimensions. I don’t even remember the title of that exhibition. Yes, I’m shit I know. This particular painting I love because it’s not just merely a portrait of a woman gazing out at the viewer. There’s more happening and I enjoyed working on the panoramic composition. Also, the fact that the bowl of apples is in the corner feels like it is being punished for being a bad, bad bowl. Lastly, there is a brother among these sisters. And despite being quite effeminate, reminds me of one of my brothers.

Portrait of a Dysfunctioning Family

Portrait of a Dysfunctioning Family, 2005, acrylic on canvas

the fly

The Fly, 2005, acrylic on canvas

Reuse 3.0

one of bassem mansour's installations. i love artwork that lends itself to reinterpretation.


I went to Reuse 3.0 last night and really loved it. I was supposed to stay for fifteen minutes, thirty tops, but ended up staying for almost two hours. I had forgotten what the buzz was like last year, so last night I was reminded. I’ll certainly think about doing it next year (if I’m asked on time, ahem ahem. Not being a diva here, but despite being an artist-or so I like to consider myself to be-I do believe in a degree of professionalism. There I said it!) Anyway, don’t miss it! If not for the innovative and inspiring works, then for the eccentric cluster of people under one parking lot roof. Read More


what shall i wear tonight?

Things That People Do With My Postcards: Amani Baqer

Weeks and weeks ago I got an itch to send off postcards to friends, acquaintances and would-be friends. Then I got this and was newly filled with excitement that not only does the Kuwaiti Post Office do its job, but that I know some pretty inspiring people. Above is the original postcard sent to (perhaps reluctant to be officially recognized in this country as such) artist and architect Amani Baqer. Below is what she did with it. Take two, take four, take six. Kert!

From The Yellow Tape Portraits. Eleven

eleven, 2009, acrylic and oil pastels on canvas, 91×152 cm

It’s funny. I almost didn’t include this one in the show. But it was a favorite among the gallery visitors and eventually found a home.

From The Yellow Tape Portraits. Four, Thirteen, Six

four, 2008, acrylic and oil pastels on canvas, 91x152 cm

Yes, yes, they’re not in order here, but Thirteen was indeed painted after Four. I titled them after they were all complete and hanging in the gallery. I added two bows to the one above, right before the show. She’s wearing her skin on the outside rather than covering it up. Read More

Bow Doodlies

The Famouses

maradona, 2008, acrylic on canvas, 130x195 cm

These are my paintings of iconic people, all of which were commissioned by my brother, Mohammed. And all of which reside with him and Jana (visit them here). Read More

Si’s Girl

Si’s Girl, 2007

Acrylic on canvas

91×152 cm

In 2007, just out of the blue, I decided to paint a picture using dark, dark colors. I can safely say that this is the darkest painting I’ve ever done. It was painted at a time when I felt my happiest in a long while. I usually hide behind bright colors, but I felt safe enough to leave this woman enshrouded in the dark. I only ever did three more ‘dark’ paintings, one of which is The Note.

No Passing Notes

The Note, 2007

Acrylic on canvas

91×152 cm

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