Painting, performance or prose- art and it’s many forms inject a shot of courage and bravery into the artist. It
takes grit and gumption to bare your soul and be judged for your work. But who are the faces that create these
wonders? We talk to those that have mastered the arts and carved a niche for themselves
There has never been a time in Kuwaiti born, Shurooq’s life where she wasn’t sketching, writing or thinking of ways to make the world a better place with art. As she puts it, the splashes for being a future art activist were always there. “But it was around 1992 or 1993 that a gallery owner came to visit my home and found me painting while pregnant and barefoot in my kitchen, with dozens of finished art works propped up all over the space,” says Shurooq, “I must have looked a little mad, but she loved my work and gave me my first solo exhibition. And that was how I started exhibiting publically.”
In a nutshell, Shurooq can be defined as an artist, a poet and a single mother to four children. “I have been painting since I could hold a crayon and over the 23 long and arduous years that I have been exhibiting internationally, I am proud to have earned the title of artist,” she says.
The artist knows that being a female in the industry is much more challenging. Having struggled all her life to be taken seriously for her art, it has only been over the last few years that the world has taken notice of the fact that she is here to stay. She says, “For as long as I live, I will be painting and exhibiting and making sure my voice is heard loud and clear.” A situation where the world tried to stifle her spirit took place in 2012. “The Kuwait authorities shut down my show ‘It’s a Man’s World’,” she explains, “To me, it was obvious that they were trying to shut me up as a woman and a female artist. It was mortifying for them that I dared to question the blatant socio-political hypocrisy that existed in our region. They thought I would disappear after that, but I came back stronger and louder than ever.” From solo shows in London and Dubai to being the first Kuwaiti female artist to have her work auctioned at Christie’s and participate in the Venice Biennale, Shurooq is proof that believing in yourself and diligence in your mission pays off.
Her message to young female artists that are trying to make a name for themselves is simple. “Believe in your worth and in your work. Persevere no matter what society throws at you. Fall down if you must, and have a good cry about it too, but then get back up on your feet and challenge the status quo. Make sure your voice is heard.” Case in point, after four years of not being able to show her work in her own country, she has now been invited back to present her new solo exhibition. The show will be called ‘It’s a Mad World’ and will focus on regional and global taboo issues.