For Abdullah Al Mutairi, ‘art is the reflection of the society we live in’. Not just his interpretation of the present but his own participation and contribution to it. Through his latest exhibition, Abdullah tries to make an ambitious attempt at predicting what it is that our future generations will identify us with, what will grace the museum displays 500 years from now. The making of a future history.
“We are all so are wasteful. Generally, I am interested in what’s thrown away or discarded, whether it’s physical or emotional. I was thinking about the process of perfecting an image, the question of presentation both on individual as well as on a larger cultural scale. What’s thrown away when a particular narrative is written? asks Abdullah. His second solo exhibition is a natural progression from his debut show ‘Byproducts of Development’, where he focused on environmental pollution and how it affects the way we live. Through his current show he re-evaluates how a region and time’s history is officially documented. The exhibit presents an alternate view of the future history of Kuwait through the use of second-hand materials and daily disposables while considering the physical and mental volatility resulting from development and our constant saturation with information. “Using new materials to create art has always made me uncomfortable,” says Abdullah, who is also a self proclaimed hoarder. A lot of the material he has used for his current exhibition are things he has saved for years, or bought at a flee market. He believes that these materials although not pristine or perfect, will form a greater connect with his viewer.
Art according to Abdullah is all about the first impact, the first thought that crosses a spectators mind on seeing an art piece and ‘reality seldom is perfect,’ is a statement that screams out from almost every exhibit in this show. Not one to take himself too seriously, the show also has humorous undertones. Plastic bags fused together form shapes that are left to the viewers interpretation and chemical structures that can be rearranged to form a thousand different compounds, grace the wall of his imaginary future museum. Paper bags with drawings of symbols most used today, represent pictographic equivalents of what our early ancestors might have drawn on cave walls.
From a millennial who was creating collages on Tumblr a few years ago, to a solo artist with two shows under his belt, Abdullah says what most attracts him about art is its visual nature. “I am a product of two cultures, neither of which I have been able to perfect. Having grown up speaking both English and Arabic, and not being able to master either, art gives me the opportunity to connect with others beyond the use of words,” says Abdullah.
Constantly contradicting himself in conversation, Abdullah is a near perfect reflection of this era constituted by acute clashes confusing our understanding of the price we pay for our contemporary lifestyle and how we choose to self-actualize.