Who is Aidha Badr?
Aidha Badr is an incredible artist, with a maturity, talent and insight far beyond her tender years. We, at LivinQ8 had the honour to meet her during the opening of her fabulous exhibition at Artspace’s new location in Salmiya, where she took time out to answer a few questions for us to learn about who is, Aidha Badr:
Why do you do what you do?
To me painting is a lifelong passion that I felt like needed to be exercised. Painting keeps me centred as a human being.
What is your background?
I’ve been making art throughout my life but only started being consistent about it when I went to study painting at Binghamton University in Upstate NY. I had amazing professors who gave great feedback. I think having a solid basis with painting is important, it allows you to explore the art with a more calculated sort of consciousness.
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What colour would you be and why?
Those really cool 4 in one type of crayons, so I could easily switch up if I wanted to.
What does your work aim to say?
My work aims to convey truth and honesty. True and honest painting represents and reflects my interiority, honesty is visible through my work’s complications and contradictions. I would like my work to be relatable, I don't necessarily agree with the whole art has to be deep and complex to be valid, no. I think all humans experience the same emotions at one point and I want my artwork to express those common emotions we feel: fear & nostalgia are big ones for me in my current body of work. I’m not shy about being vulnerable and putting my emotions into my paintings.
What Role does the Artist have in Society?
An artist has a responsibility, which is to change the visual landscape. But on a smaller scale, we need to give people something that they can grasp onto, and hopefully relate and connect to.
How does your work comment on current social or political issues?
It doesn't. My art is fun and playful at heart even though I’ve heard them described as dark and comical too. It focuses more on humans and interpersonal relationships more than it does on society and politics.
Who are your biggest influences?
In the past, while I was doing portraits I’ve been really inspired by Gustav Klimt and the way he handles his paint so elegantly yet in such a humble way, and of course his prodigy Egon Schiele. Cy twombly, which I think is the best abstract painter of our time, he gave form to the inner states of humankind, he makes you feel like you are held on in the moment of being on the cusp of something, like we’re about to understand and I like that. But currently, or whenever I’m actively working I sort of block out any artists, I try to have a clear mind and sort of not look at a style I’m inspired by and mimic it in my own way, I don't like to be totally influenced by an artist or an art movement whenever I’m painting, I want my paintings to fully encapsulate who I am as a person as opposed to have it echo a certain artists style.
We live in a ‘conservative’ environment, what has been the biggest challenge you've faced?
I haven’t really had to face any challenges, my work is not very in your face provocative, it sorts of crosses the boundaries but in a fun playful way that you can't really put your finger on.
How have you developed your career?
To me, I’m just painting and exhibiting. I paint because I love to paint, because it makes me feel centred as a human being. I don’t paint to develop a career, or a brand like Thomas Kinkade sure, he was technically good, but there’s a point where he ceased to be good and just did whatever the market wanted. Kinkade wanted to do other art, art that was more expressive, but what he wound up making was essentially bad copies of what made him famous. And if the point in your art is to seek fame or recognition or for monetary purposes then to me that feels a big chunk of your identity as an artist is gone. The point is, ask yourself how honest is your art? Are you making your art solely to fit the whims of the marketplace, or are you being true to who you are as an artist? So, in that sense, I’m being honest and true to myself and my desires and seeing where that takes me.
What are your thoughts on the art world?
Regionally speaking, I think the art scene here is too sterile, people are so afraid of being vulnerable or afraid of being wrong, they are afraid of taking a risk, therefore the art lacks depth and process. I think it’s very important to realize that every work of art involves a process even a readymade and of course ideas and conceptual thinking are not the same thing and are not so easily interchangeable, so among today's more ambitious and practical artists you always have those who tend to look at what came immediately before, what has been shown successfully in galleries, what has been sold and resold (and at which price) and conceive ….. or rather contrive their own version that can then be identified as a brand to enter the market as quickly as possible. Getting yourself into this sped up cycle has its dangers, why should anyone be in a hurry to be discovered? Artists who rush the process though doing something risk-free help to keep running smoothly and efficiently what John Miller has termed “painting as a service industry”. And in this society, this truth has created a new imperative to be up and running as a viable commodity publicly and privately traded by the age of twenty-five. Art takes time and it cannot be hurried along.
Which current art world trends are you following?
It's hard for me to pinpoint specific trends because I’m on Instagram constantly and I’m following all these amazing artists all over the world and its strange to see that there's no one specific thing that they're doing or trying to achieve, which I like, I like the variety. I think in painting it's not really trends and its more “movements” and I guess when you are IN IT it's hard to see what umbrella you fall under. I think maybe the people who look at my art would be able to tell. But I think generally speaking, the overall feeling, or trend today is quick art, art for the moment which doesn’t care about the future or the past that I think has been characteristic of the whole century actually.
Do you believe there should be government support for the Arts & Artists (as there was in Kuwait back in the 50’s/60’s)?
I believe so yes. I think essentially the big problem is (lack of) awareness and acceptance. Without art awareness and art acceptance the people themselves won’t find comfort in art, because they don’t think its as legit as being a doctor or an engineer and that’s what they were taught to believe. With these notions in mind, as a society we won't be able to breed good artists and that essentially becomes the bigger problem, because what we keep is seeing bad copies of art that came before, rebranded and passed off into the market. The whole monetization of art has almost ruined younger artists, they do not have an imagination and are taking from something that just came before and that is somewhat feeding the system, which essentially becomes the immense problem. There has been huge progress in the country over the past 5 or 6 years, in the art world, there’s definitely more awareness now, and I hope for it to only keep progressing.
Describe the colour yellow to somebody who is blind.
The warmth of sunlight on your skin in springtime
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
A baker or cook, for sure. Observing my mom who is an amazing cook, I’ve always been inspired by her passion when it comes to her craft, I’ve always been drawn to that side of her. I do sometimes get into cooking and baking but when it comes to that I also have a theme. My theme when it comes to making food is honesty. Food that’s not posing as food, food that looks real and tastes real, food that doesn't look like it’s been touched by many people. The ugly but good food, basically the food you eat that you truly enjoy but don't think you should take a picture of to post on your Instagram. I’m drawn to honesty in everything, so it would make sense that even the food I make, is honest.
We finish the interview and you step outside, you find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?
I would pay off my student loans, and then maybe get a cappuccino with the remaining $3.75.
Is there anything you would like to add that we haven’t discussed?
I would like to give a word of advice to any budding artists, to stay honest, with themselves at least. To do what they truly feel like doing, to explore their deepest desires and do that. To not conform to the market, or the galleries, or the critics. Just do what satisfies you, and if you do it for long enough and consistently enough, you will eventually make something of it that you can truly call your own.
FOMO, Aidhas Exhibition is currently exhibiting at Artspace, Salmiya until May 20th.
You can also listen to Aidha on George Tarabays Podcast this week, just click [Here] and enjoy!