Avahteri Gallery launched its ‘Vee Vaal’ art exhibit featuring work by Fuvahmulah native and veteran artist Ahmed Badeeu, on Saturday at Bread Matters Green in the reclaimed suburb Hulhumale.
Vee Vaal is a collection of over 70 ‘caricatures’ of high-profile contemporary members of society and the first public event of its kind that showcases caricature as an art form. The showing will proceed until February 17 at the Avahteri Gallery located in Hulhumale.
Caricature as artistic expression is the portrayal of people overtly enhancing and exaggerating their distinct features and characteristics, often in order to make social and political commentary about them.
The event defines the expressive art form as to depict the ‘Idea of Someone’, opining that the viewer would hold an adapting concept of an individual rather than the essence of the real person.
As curated by Ali Saeed, “The linguist Faarooq Hassan described Vee Vaal as a folk term from Fuvahmulah, to personify the response to a call out from the community. ‘Vaal’ in Fuvahmulah dialect refers to persons. The word is akin to ‘Vee Varu’, and can be defined in English as ‘whom we were able to gather, those who answered our call.”
The art exhibition was inaugurated by Minister of Arts, Culture, and Heritage Yumna Maumoon, who in her opening ceremony speech expressed gratitude to Avahteri Gallery and Badeeu for the opportunity to launch the event and to view the artworks.
The guest of honour also highlighted the importance of work done by independent collectives like Avahteri Gallery in leading such movements to provide platforms for talents and artists to display their creations.
Minister Yumna further commented that bringing together artists of all ages in forums to discuss their thoughts and opinions is vital to nurture the field of creativity and that the government would always encourage and aid initiatives targeting the development of these skills.
Speaking on behalf of Avahteri Gallery, Aisha Lulua Hassan stated that they are working to expand the role of artists in society.
According to Badeeu, all the artworks were placed strategically in chronological order from his first to the last pencil on paper drawing. It took the artist over three years to complete the series.
Galolhu North MP Eva Abdulla, Minister of Tourism Ali Waheed, Minister of Youth, Sports and Community Development Ahmed Mahloof, former First Lady Fathimath Ibrahim, Speaker of Parliament and Jumhooree Party Leader Gasim Ibrahim and other prominent figures such as Chairperson of Tiny Hearts of Maldives Dr Mohamed Aseel Jaleel, renowned footballer Ali Ashfaq and musician Zara Mujthaba.
Badeeu exudes creativity in his skilful mastery of the art form, as all portraits bear resemblances to the depicted with only deliberate exaggerations and not a single pencil stroke astray on his grainy white backdrops.
The artist's work clearly received the intended positive reception as all attendees were immersed in the enthused dialogue over the concept Badeeu wished to impart them with.
In an interview, Badeeu described that his work is not linked to satire and there are distinctions in his art, saying that “…in some pictures you will see the full body where some people are holding different objects and so on, that is where I actually wanted to tell the viewer about a portion of their social or political lives that viewers can connect that to their lives.”
Elaborating on his statement, Badeeu stated that as there are very few caricature artists in Maldives, he felt that the high-profile figures in the country deserve to be captured in this art form, as foreign public figures are often seen portrayed.
Moreover, he explained that the people portrayed had granted permission to be included in his exbihition, emphasizing that his intent was never to ridicule but to praise and showcase the personas in a positive light. He also stated that some had even volunteered to be portrayed and that he was also commissioned to create caricatures.
In contrast to caricatures being perceived in the past as a way to diminish authority, Badeeu takes great pride in the fact that the style is now recognized as a form of decoration and celebration as well.
Badeeu also hopes that his work will inspire other artists to take up caricature as an artistic expression.
Admission to view the artworks is free of charge.