Artist painter Ghadah Alkandari is such a special gem in Kuwait. Her figurative paintings depict colourful beings seemingly conveying deep psychological truths through their quiet eyes. Her playful inclusion of iconic mundane objects from our daily lives adds an element of mythical proportion in the present tense.
Despite her extroverted sense of conversation, Ghadah seems to be extremely introspective and deeply in tune with her own genre of feminine mystique. After encountering her piece depicting a character holding up UNO cards, a game most of us have more often than none internalised as a simple and joyful memory, at the latest Cultural Narratives exhibition at CAP Kuwait, the magical sense of humour within the piece brought me to Dar el Funoon the next day, where Ghadah was still hanging her solo show entitled Hurricane PM/Life from October to October and runs from 22nd October until November 1rst.
The gallery surrounded a charming court yard. A gallery opened by Lucia Topalian 24 years ago. Ghadah and Lucia had known each other for 20 years already and this is Ghadah’s 5th show at the space. Lucia has many loving anecdotes to disclose about their friendship namely Lucia’s initial malaise at the baldness of the characters in her paintings, a choice the artist had made in merry-making.
In this show Ghadah counts a year in her life in which anxiety and depression handicapped her and the idea of herself. In her process, she perhaps had metaphysically died in her known female form and was reborn after three months of this desolation into the woman that could fit her skin more completely. Her artist statement makes the following case: “I am a woman. I’ve been some form of this since the day I was born. And you would think that by the time I have lived for almost half a century, I would become accustomed to it. But I, like half the population of the earth, haven’t. From year to year it’s a surprise. From month to month, week to week, sometimes even hour to hour. Physically, chemically, emotionally.”
Ghadah Elkandari not only is a gem in her region but a gender statement delivered with an approach that seems to be above gender all together. Her struggle and her presence within her society is avant-gardist as there is nothing fearful or pretentious about her choice of subject. It doesn’t even seem to register as circumstantially taboo.