Jamal A. Rahim was born in Al Muharraq in Bahrain on 3 February 1965, brought up in its old alleys. He still lives in Al Muharraq where he has built his own house and studio.

A. Rahim began life as a feisty individual in a Muharraqi environment. He was strongly attached to the sea after spending most of his childhood enjoying its beauty.

His story with art started when he returned from India in 1984. Towards the end of 1979 he decided to go to India where he took a course in drafting. He would stay in India for four years before returning to Bahrain with a diploma in engineering drawing.

At the time, A. Rahim saw drawing as simply a hobby. He participated in his first joint exhibition at Al Hala club in Al Muharraq in 1987. During the exhibition A. Rahim was introduced to the eminent Bahraini artist Ibrahim Busaad who encouraged him to take art up seriously. Busaad agreed to supervise Jamal’s initial studies in drawing, anatomy and prospective, in addition to sketching and painting.

A. Rahim became a member of The Bahrain Arts Society (BAS) in 1988 when he was introduced to the distinguished Bahraini artist A. Jabbar Ghadban. A. Rahim was fascinated by Ghadban's techniques in etching and printing. Their relationship developed into a strong friendship after which A. Rahim decided to learn the basics of such skills, and immediately started work in BAS studios. His first solo exhibition was held on 3 February 1990 at the BAS exhibition hall where he put on display some of his sketches, oil paintings and etchings. A. Rahim considers the date his rebirth.

His work:
Jamal A. Rahim's artistic works express close ties between man and the universe through understanding his identity as a Bahraini Arab artist, the city where he was brought up and his close ties with the sea.

As Frederick Niche says: “I will descend to you… dark sea, you are my night which is full of sadness and you are my fate… Oh you my far opponent." A. Rahim learned from the sea the philosophy of fishing and patience. Seeing the light shimmering on the surface of the water, the sun set and all the scenes of nature surrounding him enriched his power of imagination and formed the first natural colours A. Rahim would use in his works.

A. Rahim's environment plays a very important role in his life due to its geography and simple folkloric architecture which possess a philosophical dimension which appears clearly in the shapes of the houses and the narrow, twisted alleyways which are characteristic of the old town of Al Muharraq.

Between the sea and the city, there is a rich history full of myths starting from Gilgamesh to Delmon (Bahrain in the past) and from the Greek legends to verbal folklore stories. Being the origin of the heavenly religions has had a tremendous impact on the artist in weaving a rich imagination by conjuring up such images and reforming them in an artistic manner.

The Arabic language can be viewed as the main theme in the construction of art. The letters are a composition in themselves and a crucial item which completes the artistic work. The Arabic language is rich and captivating, and has profound, endless beauty in its letters and words which man can never have enough of.

In the middle of all this comes the artist who works on human values and the ways of understanding them despite an intricate mélange with life. The struggle between life and death is based on understanding others by entering their soul. Al Neffari, an Arab poet in the mid-fourth century Hijri, says, “Steady knowledge is steady ignorance.” An artist is just a child; art, though, can turn him into a warrior.

Thus molding all the things surrounding the artist in artistic works (drawing and painting, etching, print making and sculpture), is based on artistic rules and the ability to form a language which, while not following any particular technique or school, goes directly to the heart, through the eyes of the artist; an artist who loves delving into matters which challenge him.

Jamal A Rahim
Jamal A Rahim,
Sep 3, 2012, 8:48 AM