Paint to Freedom

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Shurooq Amin had her gallery “It’s A Man’s World” at Al Salhiya tonight, and was surprised to find that someone had reported her artworks to be ‘inappropriate’. Police received complaints of people feeling ‘insulted’ by her artworks, and around 10 PM headed there to notify Shurooq that her gallery would be shut down, and if she didn’t comply she would have to pay a fine. They referred to her artwork as “pornographic” and مخلة. They took photos of her artworks, saying that they would be sending them to the ministry.

This is exactly why we’re always either stuck in limbo or in a constant state of regression rather than progress. We can’t find proper books in our own country anymore, now with Virgin being shut down and all the good writers banned in the other bookstores. Our movies are censored, and instead we’re fed a bunch of media advertisements to turn us into consumerist robots during those 15 minutes that the cinema had cut out. Our writings are censored, it’s inappropriate to write about love and inappropriate to address the endless issues our society is facing. How does denial help anyone? Why is it believed that if we pretend a problem doesn’t exist, it’ll go away? It only gets worse the more it’s ignored. Shurooq addressed those issues in her paintings and I for one am glad she did, someone needed to speak up. As a writer I relate to her, because I know how frustrating it is to constantly be forced to bite my tongue and mute my voice when I know that what I’m seeing is wrong – yet, pointing out the wrongs of society is apparently wrong in itself.

I say it needs to end. The intellectuals of the Arab society need to unite to fight censorship and ignorance and regression. I really wouldn’t be surprised if this regression was planned. Why would higher powers want ‘the public’ to enlighten and liberate themselves from their own shackles? Better to make them love those shackles and brainwash them well enough to have them enforce your ideologies on others too. That way, it won’t just be your security forces imposing your beliefs on others. It’ll be the monsters you created too.

Please hashtag #painttofreedom with any tweets regarding Shurooq Amin’s gallery or art/writing censorship in the Gulf.

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30 responses »

  1. Thank you for the support. I’m overwhelmed at the amount of people who have so much to say but are afraid to say it, and who are now speaking up because of this incident. I won’t write details about what happened tonight at the gallery with the authorities here in case I get into some legal mumbo jumbo that they can use against me for investigation, but I will say this: I will keep on painting to change society, and nothing can stop me. This is my mission. I attended the opening of my exhibition with a neck brace on, having undergone a 5 car collision that left me with whiplash and a completely destroyed car, and after my son had also been through a car crash this very same morning on his way to school! Nothing and nobody will stop me from desiring a better Kuwait and helping to make it happen. It takes time. We are making history. Don’t give up. If not in our time, then in our kids or grandkids time. But we will always be remembered as the instigators. God bless you all for supporting me.

    • Reading this is really uplifting. I really got depressed after i heard the news. I hate seeing people losing hope in Kuwait ;( And I hate seeing intellectuals suppressed by close-minded folks. I hope Kuwait will continue to be the liberal state it truly is!

  2. Clearly it shows that some people have no appreciation,understanding, nor value of what art is all about. Simply i’d like to say, “If you don’t like the music, change the channel!”

    God Bless Kuwait.

    • I think so too! I was thinking the same thing today. So what you didn’t like the paintings you saw? Just leave and don’t come back again. Worst case senario, go “warn” your close-minded friends and tell them not to visit the exhibition. Reporting it to the police is extremely evil!

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    • Thank you for writing about it, we all need to spread the word about this. I think this is going to trigger a great response from the liberals and intellectuals, might be the wake-up call that’s needed for us to rise up. Please encourage other writers and painters to do the same.

  4. So the government is OK with teaching the history of art in schools, but not is not OK with our local talents exhibiting artwork that DOESN’T have ANY nudes?!

    I can name hundreds of nude paintings and sculptors that I have seen in photographs & books in Kuwait. Why not ban those?

    Seriously, the Kuwaiti government needs to have it’s priorities reexamined and stop stamping out the local talent.

    • I don’t think that art history is taught in schools, that’s why art appreciation is so weak in Kuwait. I personally think that no art should be banned, whether in books or in galleries. Art is art and beauty is beauty. I didn’t like how quickly they shut down an art gallery and how long it takes them to fix more important matters like education.

      • (Start Rant) As I have stated before, “Brains atrophied and creativity is dying in Kuwait. Today’s Islamist is afflicted by selective amnesia and myopia when it comes to what has been taught.”

        In other words, the modern Islamist has forgotten that our predecessors didn’t destroy anything during the historical conquests? Muslims are commanded to protect and preserve the heritage and cultures of other civilizations, but them knuckleheads today are ignoring that fact. (End Rant – did I make any sense?)

        Cheers to you, Shurooq I’m one of your silent fans. Keep up the fantastic work! :)

      • Thanks R. yes, You made sense. This is a crucial time in Kuwait’s history and I hope all other local artists & writers support me and unify to end this new wave of regression in Kuwait. It’s up to us to ride this wave and stop the attack on human intellectual rights. It’s my country & I love it, but it has a disease. We can treat it & make it better. A better Kuwait.

    • I agree with R.

      Even if the art contained nudes, it would STILL be considered beautiful ART WORK. I HATE it when people consider a work of art “pornographic” just because it contains a nude figure. They need to take their minds out of the gutter and stop thinking so much about porn (since it’s obviously the first thing that comes to THEIR dirty minds– who’s the pervert now??). Take into example the fantastic works of masters Modigliani, Michelangelo, etc. These closed-minded idiotic “authorities” simply have nothing better to do than to destroy society with their ignorance– err, STUPIDITY.

      What’s next?? Ban the cinema?? I saw more leg flesh & cleavages in “The Expendables” or in Bollywood films where you can see a woman’s belly due to the cut/style of her sari… *sigh*

      • I couldn’t have said it better. But I really don’t want to wonder “what’s next?” I would really like it if Paint to Freedom put an end to that, because this isn’t what Kuwait stands for.

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  6. Art is Art. There is no wrong or right way. It’s a way of expression, Those who feel offended need to be cultured and be acceptable of other people’s self expression. It’s so sad to see that her exhibition had to be shut down due to complaints from ignorant uncultured people.
    It’s simple, if you don’t like the work, don’t go!

  7. The irony: Dr. Foz is on TV talking about sex & relationships (have any of you heard those callers?!), lame self-help books about sex & relationships being SOLD OUT in bookstores.

    While banning artwork depicting LOVE & relationships. Erm, what?

    • I personally don’t see anything wrong with what Dr. Foz discusses, nor do I see anything wrong with what Shurooq Amin paints. All falls under the same category of freedom of expression.

  8. Dear Shurooq: heads up and keep going strong! Your artwork is truly amazing and that’s what counts.The proof that it’s good is in the strong reactions people have had to it, whether positive or negative. I’m really sorry to hear about the car crashes and hope your neck gets better soon, because you’re going to need to keep your head up high!

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