Thursday, September 24, 2009

Public Sculpture in Kuwait - Rumaithiya



This is the initial posting of public sculpture in Kuwait, the aim being to provide, semi-regular (whenever interesting pieces are encountered) photographic submissions accompanied by a morsel of personal impressions.


'Kuwait' spelled in Arabic along the spine of the sculpture...


This initial sculpture is located in Rumaithiya, just off the Gulf Road, a stone throw from the Hardees fast-food restaurant, across the street from the Movenpick complex. Living in Salwa, I drive by this sculpture almost daily, however, this was the first time I'd had a chance to visit it in person. Location wise the sculpture is somewhat inaccessible, placed in the centre of a small, fenced in, roundabout with a number of permanent steel-frame seating on four sides. These benches must have been included already during the original installation, as they now are all snugly facing the surrounding hedge. The sculpture itself, which can be accessed through four equidistant gaps in the hedge, is in an unfortunately dilapidated state, with some of the white marble tiles of its quadrophonic base broken off and scattered across the adjacent paving. The sculpture itself, made predominantly of painted steel, is also showing its age, with rust being the norm rather than the exception on its skyward thrusting oblique torso, a flat piece which is pierced by a set of assembled vertical rods approximately one quarter length from its eastward facing tip. The assembly of these three units (the base, the oblique surface and the vertical rods) form, however, a surprisingly dynamic composition, suggestive of some constructivist or futurist sculpture, something which is unfortunately not apparent when viewed from the Gulf Road (too far away, too quickly passed by) nor from the surrounding roundabout (hidden by the hedge).


An assembly of vertical rods pierce the sculpture's oblique main unit...


Regrettably there is no apparent plaque remaining to tell who the sculptor is and what his/ her intention in designing the assemblage might have been. Along its spine the word 'Kuwait' is spelled out in Arabic, so one can assume it might be suggestive of the nations aspirations and hopes for the future, but, without additional info, that remains only a guesstimate.


East elevation...


Still, as a composition this 'Kuwait' sculpture in Rumaithiya has some inherent figurative and suggestive kinaesthetic qualities even in its bedraggled state to merit a visit, something that not many of the more recent (mostly roundabout) sculptures do, which largely fall into the category of poor, too literal and sentimental metaphors and pastiche of past trades and craft related paraphernalia.


West elevation...


South elevation...


Extended approach to the sculpture...


The somewhat discordant permanent benches placed around the small sculpture plaza - almost all facing a hedge...


View up the spine of the sculpture...

2 comments:

sarah said...

Yes, we've seen this sculpture, but never so close.
will you do a comparison study on old and new public sculptures?

Thomas said...

Hi Sarah,

I haven't come across much new public sculpture in Kuwait (beyond the somewhat trivial, examples next to the 50 on the way to the airport). If you have any suggestions for some worthwhile examples, both old and new, let me know...

Tom