When I dropped by at the Stal Galley to review the summer art collection, I walked into a beehive of activity. In the gallery space, workers were busy installing sets and bringing in racks of gowns for a fashion show on the theme of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Downstairs, seven young teenagers were participating in a photography workshop; and, upstairs, Catherine Abbot, the Manager of the Gallery, was at work.
Catherine and I went on tour of the paintings amid mannequins, fashions, potted palms and a tree festooned with flowers. This was not distracting - quite the opposite. In a Dadaist kind of way, it made the art more exciting. Juxtaposed with a rack of gowns, a huge Andy Warhol-style portrait of Marilyn Munro by Bahraini Artist Jamal Abdul Rahim served to emphasize the movie star's status as a fashion icon.
Also not disturbed by the intrusion of fashion were Alia Al Farsi's new, almost life-size paintings of women at leisure and in conversation. Coincidentally, Alia's painted clothes include pieces of real fabric. These canvases are characterized by strong lines, sharp colour definition and enigmatic meanings. As if torn from letters, patches of writing are pasted on the faces and hands of the figures. And so the ladies' conversation is caught and kept as if such moments can become eternal in art.