“It’s ok to be uninspired this year, if you find beauty and inspiration in any of this, you are literally unhinged.”
Aidha Badr is an artist from Brooklyn, currently living and working in Kuwait. She graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree, with a concentration in studio arts and painting. Aidha believes that there is probably no greater waste of time than painting, but also the greatest potential for true beauty. According the Aidha, her paintings are more about me and my own process of learning about myself and my own catharsis. We are honored to have one of her great art as one of our three covers for this month.
Read our exclusive interview with her to know more about Aidha.
What got you interested in arts?
From observing my mother who constantly had a sketchpad and a pencil, as a child I was always astounded and intrigued by her talent to the point of complete and utter admiration and obsession with her and everything she did, I wanted to become everything that she was. Growing up we had a very intimate relationship that I cherished and still do. I have very vivid memories of my mom staying up late at night and creating a hyper realistic rendition of Cleopatra, which to this day still feels like the most beautiful and remarkable work of art I have ever seen. Growing up I felt as though there was no other path for me besides art, I felt as though it was a lifelong passion that needed to be exercised. When I paint, it keeps me centered as a human being.
Are you a self-taught artist or did you take formal training?
A little bit of both, I was formally trained as a portrait painter, which is something I still do, but more often than not I would find myself more drawn to a more honest style of painting and that’s when I start to explore styles outside of traditional portrait painting.
How would you best describe your style of art?
I would describe the essence of my portraits as confrontational or introspective.
What are your favourite materials to use?
Oil paint, primarily.
What is the message that you like to convey through your art?
To me, painting is both degenerate and extremely aristocratic, there is probably no greater waste of time than painting, but also the greatest potential for true beauty. When I paint it’s all about beauty, vanity, allure and desire. There really aren’t any enigmatic statements or messages that I try to convey when I paint. My paintings are more about me and my own process of learning about myself and my own catharsis.
Where do you take the inspiration for your work?
Mostly my inspiration is internally driven, from my innermost desires, my vulnerabilities and the shame and discomfort that comes along with making a painting. All of these emotions, which can sometimes be overwhelming especially at times when felt all at once, inspire my paintings. I like the idea of feeling or trying something for the first time and the childlike excitement that comes along with it. When I used to teach, I had a student in the 1st grade who ran towards me one day and told me “I tried a tomato for the first time yesterday” and that struck a chord with me and inspired an entire body of work centered around innocence and the idea of being open. Some of my recent works carry heavy religious and mythological motifs, the overall idea of beauty and purity in everything. I believe that it is essential to detach ourselves from outwardly appearances in order to prepare ourselves for heaven, so I would depict some of my figures in heaven playing UNO, waiting for laundry or simply unwinding. The notion of incorporating the mundane into this unknown realm and allowing for it to be more familiar and easily accessible. I try to paint a universe made of childhood or endless sunrises and although my subjects feel everything I do, my paintings are not about romantic sentimentality.
What is your process of completing a piece from start to finish?
I’ve been trying to be more pragmatic about my paintings, I start to work out themes or ideas more carefully and it is much more concise. But it’s hard for me to sit with an idea or a concept, the composition for me tends to lead the work. The recurring figures or objects I use hold very specific meaning to me so their place on the canvas and their size and colors play with the tension of their own meanings. To put all my shame and insecurities aside, at some point I have to trust that this is something I’ve been doing for a while, and being familiar with my own capabilities and relying on my mind to construct and deconstruct a painting until it almost feels right. It’s a different process when it comes to my portraits, I find that my process tends to be more impulsive and comes more natural to me because it’s more structured and safe, once I know what the eyes of my subjects are saying, the rest of the process is simply autopilot.
How has your professional life been affected by the pandemic, the ongoing issues with corona virus?
My professional life has not been affected by the pandemic, in a perfect world, nobody’s life, professional or not, should be affected by the pandemic, and the fact that I can move forward unaffected is a privilege that I recognize.
What was it like where you are during the early days of Covid-19 and Lockdown?
It didn’t feel that much different than.
In my head, it felt calm. Just because every time I looked out the window, everything was so stationary. It was hard for me to grasp at first, the sense of collective urgency everyone experienced, it was dystopian, fear is truly the one universal emotion that drives us all to be impulsive and uninhibited.
What does an average day look like for you these days?
My days have been more or less repetitive and mundane, which I enjoy. Every day I would wake up, make coffee and drink it in the same spot I always do, listen to the same playlist, have a zoom meeting with the same people, have the same conversations with my friends, there’s a lot of selfish comfort and safety in that. I love consistency, I have no complaints.
How are you dealing with this sudden change in lifestyle?
It really wasn’t difficult for me to adapt, I could imagine it would be a lot more difficult for people who have much more at stake than I do, people who have mouths to feed and people who lack a safety net and resources. I haven’t made a painting in three months, so if it’s an artist block that I have to deal with, I’ll survive.
What are the important lessons you have learned during this time?
How fragile life can be, and how in a matter of seconds something could be taken away from anyone, suffering, fear, and grief are all universal experiences and nothing is ever linear.
What are you doing now that’s ultimately constructive to your life and/or career?
Giving myself the time and space to reflect on all of my previous works, to think of them as building blocks for a future body of work or as works in progress. Nothing is ever finished and nothing is ever perfect, to think of my work as anything other than a “work in progress” would be delusional.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve realized during this period of social distancing?
That my true essence lies in my solitude.
Did you develop any new interest or hobby or learned a new skill during this time?
I launched my online magazine LOS GATOS MAG. The magazine goes beyond aesthetics and beauty, it fosters saying and sharing anything as though things lacking certain meaning have never been more loud. Despite the eccentric nature of the magazine, it aspires to build a less contrived platform, where even verbosity is welcomed. It aims to create a space that goes from tolerance to acceptance of one another. This exchange then allows us to identify with one another and expand our own notions of “we”. LOS GATOS MAG features content by people who have the willingness to be vulnerable, the willingness to present, to be human, people who don’t launder their narcissism in the name of art or culture or activism. This openness can be felt, in an ambient way, through a screen, a white light, when you consume the content on LOS GATOS MAG, you feel it, and it helps you better understand yourself, and what it means to be human. LOS GATOS MAG becomes a vessel for all these emotions, everything felt all at once, you feel overwhelmed by it, cathartic even.
What’s your favourite music/songs for the moment?
Welcome Home by Hannah Cohen, perfect album, no skips. And the entire Pop Smoke discography, RIP poppy.
Any advice on staying sane & relatively positive through this situation?
My advice is for people to find positivity in the endless resources that are open for them to learn about why things never work out in a crisis, and why people are that much more in danger. There are millions of resources to learn about different ways to help or to simply become aware, that’s the most positive thing you can do, taking the time to understand what’s going on instead of indulging in self-centered, superficial and escapist attitudes to life, find yourself actually in a collective, you don’t have to trauma-bond with the world to understand that this is a human race struggle, it’s not negativity, stress or just pure chaos, it’s not a hoax, it’s real life, the ability to pass it off as negative is at best condescending, and at worst, tone deaf. My advice is to practice compassion and empathy, to become more aware and recognize the privilege in your ability to simply reflect and learn about times like these while not directly being affected by any of it.
What 3 things could you not live without under lockdown?
Anne Carson, a stable internet connection, and Spotify
What are you missing most about the outside world?
What are you most looking forward to doing once the lockdown is over?
To continue to move forward with a more clarity and understanding of the world around me
How do you think life will be after Covid-19?
It’s difficult for me to visualize what life will be post-pandemic, it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to disregard their previous notions of normalcy. This year has shown us how ugly and unforgiving the world can be in times of a crisis, so my hopes would be for us to create a stronger sense of community, to respect each other’s boundaries, to lead with more compassion and acceptance of one-another. Overall, there needs to be a shift in attitude and a collective ego death.
All paintings are “courtesy the artist”
Artist Photos by: @dowmut< Back