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Turning trash to treasure – ‘Local artist creates masterpieces from recycled materials’

Bader Al-Mansor
Bader Al-Mansor

Recycled art not only benefits the environment, but breathes new life into old objects that were once destined for the landfill. Kuwaiti artist and sculptor Bader Mansor Al-Mansor, who creates impressive works of art made from recycled materials, certainly believes that one person’s trash is another person’s treasure.

Mansor, 38, got his bachelor’s degree from the Higher Institute of Dramatic Art in theatrical decor. He works as a decor designer at Kuwait TV, and has been the only artist in Kuwait specialized in recycled art since 1994. Mansor has participated in many art exhibitions in and out of Kuwait, was a representative of Kuwait University at the Universities Forum Gulf in Oman in 1997 and a representative of Kuwait at the Forum League of Fine Arts and Calligraphy in 2003 and the Youth Salon II in Qatar in 2007.

He won the top award twice in a row at the College of Science Exhibition in 1996 and 1997. He also got the first place and a gold medal at the Designing College of Science Symbol in 1997, the Hand’s Touch For My Country exhibition in 1998, the general exhibition of KUNIV in 1999 and the Qurain Exhibition’s Essa Saqer Creative Award in 2002, 2003 and 2004 among other exhibitions. Kuwait Times spoke to Mansor to learn more about his experiences in recycled art. Some excerpts.


Kuwait Times: When did you get involved in recycled art? What inspired you?
Bader Al-Mansor: I used to create my own toys from broken wooden boxes when I was 10 years old. After that I drew caricatures and published them in local newspapers. But I stopped and went back to recycled art, because of the lack of raw materials in Kuwait, such as wood or rocks. So I went on to use the only materials that are available in my country – trash and plastic. My talent was formed during my studies in theatrical decor. I used to make the required pieces of art by recycling old stuff.

KT: Which school of art do you belong to?
Bader: I think I belong to the Art of Idea school. This school depends on the idea, then you can use this idea in any style, whether photography, sculpture, art or mechanical work.

KT: Who are your inspirations?
Bader:The artist Saud Faraj and my decor professor at the Higher Institute of Theatrical Arts Anbar Walid take great credit in how great I have become today.

KT: Did you learn about recycled art in school or are you self-taught?
Bader: I took some courses to learn some crafts, but in making my artworks, I always rely on creating creative ideas.

KT: What are the techniques or tools that you use in your art?
Bader: I use every available material that I can find, mostly from local markets, while sometimes I order online. But most of time I collect remnants from factories and workshops or buy it from the Friday market.

KT: How would you describe your style?
Bader: I’m trying to forge a simple style, by changing the concept of minimal intervention. This is the art of postmodernism according to some critics in Kuwait.

KT: Tell us more about the stages of your artwork?
Bader: First I form the idea in my mind, then make it real in my imagination. After that I get my materials and start to work in a quiet place alone.

KT:Is there a specific artist who inspires you? Why?
Bader: The famous Pablo Picasso. When I was a teenager, I used to draw in the Analytical Cubism style, but I didn’t know about Picasso at that time. After I discovered Picasso’s artworks, I felt that we had a connection over the same styles that we have, especially after seeing his “Bull’s Head”. I badly wanted to make this idea my art style.

KT: Which is your favorite piece of art? Why?
Bader: The piano piece that won the Bronze Palm award at the Gulf Forum several years ago. The idea came to me when I went to repair my car and saw the mechanical opening the hood of my vehicle put his hands on the engine – the scene looked like a pianist playing the piano. So I bought half a car and made an iron man sit in front of the open hood.

KT: Can you tell us a bit more about your philosophy in this type of art?
Bader: Recycling is tantamount to a life of the elements, converted to beneficial materials. But I like the element of surprise. Turning a car into a piano with a minimal cost makes the brain wonder if the piece is a piano or a car at the same time.

KT: How many exhibitions have you taken part in?
Bader: Four solo exhibitions and more than twenty group exhibitions.

KT: Any final words?
Bader: Recycling is the obvious solution to save a part of our environment. It is an art that is the friend of the environment, and thankfully, there is increasing awareness about the importance of recycling and investment in the field in Kuwait now. I’m happy with this awareness and ask for more.

By Faten Omar

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