Best of the Maldives: Artist-in-Residence – Kandima

Kandima - artist in residence 1

Aima Musko and I got way back. When I had just started Maldives Complete and she had just started her career in art. She’s helped me with the website (doing the new logo this past year) and I guess you could say that I helped her as her first customer. I knew that she had been a part of the featured artist series at Kandima, but I hadn’t realised that she had stayed on as an artist-in-residence at the resort until we visited there in July. She caught me up on all the latest and greatest in her artistic exploits as well as her exciting plans for the future. And here in a Maldives Complete exclusive, she is sharing a bit of her creative life on the island of Kandima…

  • Which atoll are you from?
    G.Dh. Fiyoari (Huvadhoo Atoll) but have always lived in Malè
      
  • What art training have you had?
  • Visual Arts in High School at Mahindra United World College of India and Foundation in Visual Communications at The One Academy in Malaysia.
      
  • What is your big frustration as an artist?
  • Other than getting easily frustrated as a perfectionist, being limited and restricted as to what can be exhibited here.
      
  • What was the first painting you ever sold (tell us your side of the story)?
  • While working at Transparency Maldives in 2011, I was asked to be the artist on a video that was celebrating women and had to make a painting for it. The video “Salhi Anhenun” (Cool Women) was uploaded to YouTube and after a few days I was contacted by the production team saying that they had someone interested in purchasing my painting. I met Bruce at a Cafe in Malè and since that day, I’m so happy to know that my painting has been hanging in his house all the way in UK for the past 7 years!
      
  • What artists have influenced you?
  • With Social Media like Instagram, I’m following various artists from all over the world with different mediums and techniques and have been continuously influenced by their styles. However I would say visiting the Art Exhibitions in Malè when I was younger and seeing the works of Artists from Maldives (Afu, Ika and Eagan to name a few) really left a lasting impression on me. Having creative friends and drawing together in school, working in different creative fields.. I’m constantly inspired and influenced.
      
  • What is the biggest misconception about art that you face?
    That good art is how realistic you can draw. Also that if you are an artist, you will be good in every aspect of art and the mediums.
      
  • If you could buy one piece of art in the world (money is no object, it could be millions), which one would it be?
    A painting by Ika of a Blue lady holding a cigarette that I saw in a house I visited with a friend about a decade ago. It just always stuck with me and I would love to own it for the impact it had on me. The second would be “The Kiss” by Gustavo Klimt. Smile
      

You can check out her personal online gallery here.

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Kandima - Artist in residence 4

Best of the Maldives: Artistic CSR – Kandima

Kandima - artistic CSR

Kandima supports the arts beyond their resort and in the community itself with their KUL Initiative:

  • “The KULA art initiative was launched on the 5th of October 2017, with a vision to promote and nurture local artistic talent and creativity and essentially open up new horizons for the local art community in the Maldives…The KULA Initiative will also support local schools and artists with equipment, grants and master/classes… With its key component, The KULA Art Festival is the first of its kind annual event to be ever hosted in any resort in the island nation at such a large scale, turning the entire resort into the trendiest, most happening art centre in the Indian Ocean. Every year Kandima Maldives invites over 20 local artists specializing in various mediums including digital, coffee, acrylic, henna, spray paint and local crafts, to unleash their inner Picasso! KULA means ‘colours’ in Dhivehi, the Maldivian language.”

And Kandima is setting out to break the Bohemian “starving artist” caricature by putting money where its mouth is to support these artists with tangible benefits:

  • “Kandima will give $1 per occupied room night to the KULA Fund and guests can also make their own donations. The KULA fund will also prosper and increase from the artists themselves. When a piece of art is sold, the artist will contribute a small percentage of the sale to the KULA fund to help it grow. The remainder goes personally to the artist, with no profit to Kandima. “

The artistic community in the Maldives has blossomed in recent years. Far beyond the Bob Ross-style painted coconut husks and tarted up imports from China, Maldives art has become gallery quality with a generation on the vanguard of the Maldivian art scene creating stunning depictions and interpretations of the paradise in which they live and in which the rest of the world is enthralled.

And the showcase for these works is the “Unveiling Visions” exhibits sponsored by Kandima which is taking place right now in the capital Male:

  • Kandima Maldives is hosting host regular exhibitions and exciting art performances by local artists in the in-house Aroma Art Studio, which is set on the edge of a natural lake inside the island. The venue gives both guests and artists the inspiration and calm space they need to create their masterpieces. The exhibition will feature works by 50 Maldivian artists of ages 18-35; under 6 main categories – painting, drawing, calligraphy art, 3d installation, digital installation and sculpture. Launched in 2017, ‘Unveiling Visions’ will offer live art sessions, workshops, artist talks and fun-filled events for children. Unveiling Visions’ will offer live art sessions, workshops, artist talks and fun-filled events for children. Kandima Maldives will invite the top 15 artists to participate in its annual KULA Art Festival to be held on 28th December 2018. The festival is a perfect marketing platform for showcasing the Maldivian talent to the international audience and will be held for the second time since the resort opening in 2017. All of the inspiring art pieces created during the event will be available for purchase at the in-house KULA Art Studio at Kandima Maldives.”

Kandima - artistic CSR 2

Kandima - artistic CSR 3

Best of the Maldives: Urban Gallery – Hotel Jen

Hotel Jen - art exhibition 1

While the Maldives are known for their low-rise terrain and thatched villas, some gems are indeed to be found in the high-rise buildings. Hotel Jen may be sequestered in the hubbub of Male, but it too is featuring some aquatic artistry at “An art exhibition renaissance for the Maldives”:

  • “MAC curates and showcases three exhibitions on a monthly basis under an agreement it has with Le Cute and Hotel Jen… Avahteri has curated six exhibitions since its creation last year and the team wants to introduce Maldivian artists to a wider audience. ‘Even we have been pleasantly surprised by the number of Maldivian artists out there and by the diversity of their work,” says Aishath. The favoured mediums are changing. ‘Oil and acrylic paintings used to dominate the Maldivian art scene,’ she says. ‘Now we see a trend towards digital, mixed media artwork. Watercolour, charcoal and even cement and coffee are becoming popular.’ Social media has transformed the scene, helping local artists overcome the barrier of the country’s geographical dispersion. Around 85 percent of MAC’s discoveries have been through social media. Avahteri says it has revolutionised the way art is promoted and connected them to new local and foreign audiences.”

Hotel Jen - art exhibition 2

Best of the Maldives: Underwater Sculpture Gallery – Sirru Fen Fushi

Sirru Fen Fushi - sculpture 1

International Sculpture Day today. And new resort Sirru Fen Fushi is launching a world class sculpture exhibit with the most distinctively Maldivian twist – it is underwater.

  • “The sculptural installation on Sirru Fen Fushi will offer visitors a unique, cultural eco-art attraction whilst creating the foundations of an artificial reef to enhance the underwater ecosystem. The centre piece will be the Coral Cube, the worlds first semi submerged art space, a portal to the underwater realm offering visitors ephemeral encounters with the natural beauty beneath the water’s surface, delivering an other worldly experience that illustrates the connectivity of man with nature, a hybrid organic form in harmony with its surroundings, a seamless link between the land and the ocean, combining two disparate wonders, one created by man and one designed by nature.”

This creative installation is another gratifying “Finally Seen” for me as I first suggested such an exhibition 4 years ago with Part 4 of my “Not Seen Yet” series (#7).

Sirru Fen Fushi - sculpture 3

Sirru Fen Fushi - sculpture 2

Best of the Maldives: Art Studio – Finolhu

Finolhu - art studio

For a heartfelt gift, you can make your own. Especially at one of the many Christmas workshops that are traditional this time of year. My church’s annual workshop was where I learned half my craft skills (straw stars, clove oranges, yuletide wreaths).  A number of resorts offer various artistic studios (pottery, painting, glass making), but Finolhu have one of the most comprehensive that I have seen with a wide variety of media.  The also have a festive Christmas workshop schedule (including ceramics) for all those budding Santa’s elves who prefer the sunny tropics to the frozen Arctic.

Best of the Maldives: Artists Collective – Kandima

Kandima - artists 1

Today’s post is also sort of a “Finally Seen”. I’ve been telling resorts for years that they should commission Aima Musko to do art pieces for their villa.  She is one of the finest artistic talents in the Maldives and I can proudly say that I was Aimee’s very first customer to buy one of her paintings. Well, finally, Aimee – and a number of other fellow Maldivian artists – are being assembled by a resort, Kandima for their KULA ‘programme’ (they refer to it as an ‘exhibition’, but it is really more like a resident festival):

  • “KULA means ‘Colours’ in Dhivehi and it is our vision that this programme will support the full spectrum of the contemporary creative arts, from local crafts, fashion, digital photography, videography to music, and open up new horizons for the local art community like never before. The entire resort will be a glorious art gallery and thanks to collaboration with MAC (Maldives Artists Community, a local art NGO with over 100 members), Kandima Maldives is set to host regular exhibitions and exciting performances by local artists. There will be live art demonstrations and guests can unleash their inner Picasso with classes at Kandima’s very own Art Studio. Set on the edge of a natural lake, it will be one of the most peaceful locations on the island, giving both guests and artists the inspiration and calm space they need to create their masterpiece!”

Colour me delighted.

Kandima - artists 2

Beaux-Arts on the Beach

Maldive artistic leap

While the fashionista army invading the Maldives usually relies on the naturally endowed beauty of the landscape and the DNA lottery for their photoshoots, some paradisarrazi put do lend an artistic hand to their posts.  Below is a top ten collection of demiurgic depictions…

  1. Blondy (Maafushi)
    Blondy (Maafushi)
  2. Rita Dahdah Fawaz (Lebanon) – JA Manafaru
    Rita Dahdah Fawaz (Lebanon) - JA Manafaru
  3. Alexey
    Alexey
  4. Esther Heesch (Germany) – Amilla Fushi
    Esther Heesch (Germany) - Amilla Fushi
  5. Tatiana (Russia) – Hulhumale
    Tatiana (Russia) - Hulhumale
  6. Catherine (Taiwan) – Adaaran Hudhuranfushi
    Catherine (Taiwan) - Adaaran Hudhuran fushi
  7. Courtney Eaton (Australia)
    Courtney Eaton (Australia)
  8. Uliana Ptash (Russia)
    Uliana Ptash (Russia)
  9. Chayada Ladmai (Thailand) – Veligandu
    Chayada Ladmai (Thailand) - Veligandu
  10. Victoria Halenarova (Czech) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
    Victoria Halenarova (Czech) – Four Seasons Kuda Huraa
  11. Alyssa Ramos (USA) – Shangri-La Vilingili
    Alyssa Ramos (USA) - Shangri-La Vilingili

Maldives Motifs

Maldives blue surgeonfish tapestry

The Maldives is an aquatic tapestry of every colour blue you could imagine punctuated by bits of shining sunshine gold and lush vibrant greens.  The most stunning beauties in the Maldives are the vistas from above, below or even right on the water.  These artistic Instagrammers have produced their own portfolio of aesthetic masterpieces which all share this mosaic quality of colourful patterns.  Including the first one above captured by yours truly, here are my top ten utopian tableaux…

  1. Blue Brigade by Maldives Complete [ABOVE]
  2. Fusiller Platoon by Meeru
    Maldives yellow back fusillier tapestry
  3. Reefer Radness by Felix Bonnert
    Maldives reef tapestry
  4. Convict Tangs by Warren Baverstock
    Maldives convict tangs tapestry
  5. Blue Lagoon by Sun Siyam Irufushi
    Maldives water tapestry
  6. Sprat School by Sidey The Shark
    Maldives fish tapestry
  7. Male Cityscape by A Life of Saturdays
    Maldives Male tapestry
  8. Coral Condos by Ender Çiçek
    Maldives coral fish tapestry
  9. Moreish Moorish by Joshua Strydom
    Maldives Moorish idol tapestry
  10. Paradise Parfait Palette by Lavender Ribbon
    Maldives lagoon tapestry

Best of the Maldives: Graffiti Art – W Retreat

W Retreat - grafitti art 1

From the other extreme of rustic simplicity, W Retreat is featuring a number of vibrant graffiti pieces painted by the Maldivian artist Sobah from @TOXI_CREW. He was also learning from Alec Monopoly who came to W Maldives to paint the walls of the “W The Store”.   He was joined by Japanese graffiti artist Shiro to give the 15BELOW underground club a facelift (see bottom).  W is always pioneering bringing a current, modern vibe to this ancient paradise for a distinctive mash up of new and natural.

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W Retreat - grafitti art 3

W Retreat - graffiti