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Art centre with a surprise

August 19, 2014

Bahraini artist Mohamed Al Raeesi is planning to bring some international flare and a big surprise for the kingdom's art community when he opens his new gallery/cafe in December.The 23-year-old globetrotting painter says the centre will offer workshops, a place to pick up supplies, grab a coffee and admire his latest creations, which are currently available to view on his Instagram account.Mohamed said: "I have been dreaming about opening an art centre in Bahrain for a very long time. It's hard to purchase art equipment in Bahrain and supplies are sometimes limited or not of good quality, in my opinion. "I will be ordering brushes and paint from different companies in London, Italy and Paris."The idea to open his own gallery came naturally to Mohamed as his work has been in high demand from the kingdom's art aficionados. Aside from drawing scenery, he also creates personalised paintings for customers.He said: "I love drawing individuals and I tend to get many requests and orders for personalised paintings to be used as birthday gifts, for anniversaries, for Eid and so on."I even get requests for paintings of nature, food and traditional Bahrain folk art. I'm very open when it comes to listening to my clients and customers about any theme or object they want, from size to colour. "I was surprised to find such a high-demand from customers in Bahrain and across the region. I get orders every day through phone calls, messages or emails. I used to complete two paintings per week and now I have to work on 10 to 15 painting orders per week. The number is increasing rapidly."Not only will the gallery feature his catalogue of work, it will also boast an art bookshop with a cafÉ, which Mohamed says will be a big surprise."It will feature one of the most famous and elegant cafÉs franchised around the world. I can't announce the name of it now, but it will definitely be a surprise," he said.Mohamed is in negotiations to open the centre, Raeesi Gallery, at one of the kingdom's most popular malls and claims it will be the largest venue in the kingdom to host such a variety of activities for artists. He said: "There are many people that want to learn how to draw and paint as well as take part in art sessions with artists. "I hope this centre will change the way some people think about arts and crafts in Bahrain as well as the importance of having art in our society. "Unfortunately, we live in a society that still underestimates the worth of an artist. Being an artist is a job just like any other in the market such as a banker, engineer, doctor or chef."Although Mohamed is still finalising the venue, he is still confident about the upcoming venture and sees it as an opportunity to encourage other artists to pursue their dreams.He said: "I want everyone to know that art is not just a hobby and that you can make a good living out of it. I'm very proud of my job, I never expected to reach were I am today. I'd like to thank God, my family, my amazing loyal customers and their constant positive feedback for the success I see today."Mohamed, who was bitten by the art bug when he was 10, has featured his colourful creations in more than 80 art shows in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Dubai, Egypt, Jordan, London, Vienna, Paris, Spain, Italy, and Portugal. He also attracted more than 400 art aficionados to his recent exhibition staged in New York City's Four Season's Hotel. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree as his mother, Shahnaz Ashrafi, is a well-known artist as well. She motivated Mohamed to pursue his artistic career along with his dad, Abdulla Al Raeesi, the deputy chief executive officer of retail banking at Ahli United Bank, in Bahrain and across the region.Mohamed said: "Both my mum and dad are very supportive of my journey. They are also helping me with ample amounts of issues regarding my centre including contacting suppliers for art products and cafe equipment, managing contacts with the interior designers as well as dealing with the legal requirements, and much more."For further details, follow Mohamed on @raeesi99 or email

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Source: Gulf Weekly (Bahrain)

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