Director’s Statement

Director’s Statement

If art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed, as the great Gibran Khalil Gibran would have us believe, then artists must be those guides who hold our hand and lead us through the meandering path to life’s ultimate understanding.

Artists have always shone that light. Opened our eyes. Made us look at things in different ways and empowered us to ask daring questions to seek further knowledge. Through their insight, they have uncovered hidden truths and showed us that those truths are never clear-cut or simple black or white.

Artists are the guardians of humanity’s culture and intellect. They are the narrators of immortal stories which impart wisdoms. And their storytelling tools are their brushes, canvases and chisels.

It is through their offered insights that we live richer and more understanding lives. Art is truly the only ubiquitous and universal language that transcend ages and geographies.

Bahraini artist Nasser Al-Yousif was one of those who had shone his insight to light the path. Through his works, he shared a world unbeknown to us. He uncovered a bygone era rich with customs and traditions. He’d shone the light on personalities and their stories in an era that saw tremendous growth and seismic change.

Intrigued by his neighborhood’s building ornamental designs at a very early age, he was insistent to understand more. The love of patterns and design had taken hold then, never to leave his imagination. He endeavored to integrate those remembered patterns and designs into his art. Patterns he observed in buildings, in the intricate embroidery of men’s cloaks – which was his family’s main enterprise – through to the colours and patterns of women’s clothing.

The environment he grew up in was supportive. The Muharraq of the 1940s and 50s was a verdant and safe incubator. No door was ever locked. Children meandered with friends from one door to the next, openly welcomed and protected. When pearl divers returned, they brought with them fantastic lores of the sea. Those were readily absorbed by wide-eyed boys and girls hungry for adventure. Their rituals, songs, dances, marriages and festivities and even solemn deaths inculcated within the children’s fibre the deep love of their environment. Most forgot them as they grew. Others, like Nasser Al-Yousif, held fast on to them, and enshrined them in their art, thus saving them for posterity.

The film will shed light on life lived true for art, and how this pioneering artist preserved those moments, visions and scenes and told those stories through his art to preserve  that rich culture.

This film will celebrate the life and art of Nasser Al-Yousif, the leading Arab artist and founding member of the contemporary art scene in Bahrain. It will explore his art and the phases it went through as well as the challenges he faced through his artistic journey.

It will explore the art he produced after he had lost his sight and how he coped with this loss, especially for an artist, and how he overcame that debilitating sensory loss through sheer determination producing arguably some of his best work even after he had lost his sight.

This documentary film will be an inspiration for generations of artists. It will show them how the determination to succeed in any pursuit in life is possible, and that if they live true to their art, that their insight will overcome even the loss of sight.

Mahmood Nasser Al-Yousif