It was late November, and inside Bayt Lothan proud participants displayed their work for Kuwait 2, an annual exhibition that gathers artists and crafters. In one room pictures taken by Ahmad Al Shammeri, of a baby doll in nine stages lined the wall. The doll started untouched, except for a few whimsical drawings etched around its head and under the eye. As the images progressed the doll was gradually distorted with stickers, and eventually burned. The etches around its head spin out of control and took the viewer through the stages of life as emotional chaos and stress settle deep into the doll, all done by the young, up and coming artist Thuraya Lynn.
She has created a style for herself that goes beyond the simplicity of beautiful art. Her line drawings stem from deep within her own emotional experiences, and will most probably leave you feeling uncomfortably aware of your own.
“This is like my darkest dreams and fears, my unwanted thing I want to take out,” she said. “For a lot of people my work touches them, and that gives me a push because in a way I am helping them realize what they are actually afraid of.”
Lynn, who calls herself a drawist, is minimalist in her work. She uses a ton of white space and fills spaces with light shading or grey. She distorts the eyes so that they bug out of the subject’s head or even places them on various body parts. Devils emit from other subjects heads, and there are cats everywhere. Her characters often look like children, possessed by some outside force as they imagine a world clearly removed from reality, and the narrative of innocence we have given them.
The shocking nature juxtaposed with such innocence may not be beautiful to look at, but it certainly gets viewers thinking. Lynn remembers a time when, as an English Literature student at Kuwait University she showed one of her drawings to a particularly rambunctious friend. Lynn’s piece was so forthright and honest about her own inner workings, he began to think of what lies deep within himself. He realized he wrongly blamed much of his disruptive behavior on his parents because he was afraid to face his own demons.
“To have a little goodness, you do have to have the other side,” said Lynn. “So there is a little darkness with the light. When you open a book and see a picture that terrifies you, you have to think about what it is that is scaring you and understand that fear.”
Her unique style has managed to offend traditional views by creating an uncomfortable awareness of how people can see themselves. As a freshman and member of the art club at her university, she was given leeway to use studios around campus. One day, she settled down with her sketchbook and started a drawing. Shortly after, an instructor came by and criticized her work as childish, and immature. She was told she should move into adult art by focusing on reality, not childish line drawings.
Yet, she continued to draw, albeit with a bit of time taken to self explore and develop her own style. She went deep below her fun-loving nature and huge smile, to show her true self, which hasn’t always been easy or accepted. As a child of Kuwaiti and Filippino descent, her full lips, almond eyes and round nose have dictated an exclusionary treatment by the very people she considers her peers.
“I feel like a Kuwaiti, but they want me to feel like an expat,” she said. “Your own people and sometimes your family are against you. If you don’t fit the mould in their minds than you are not part of them. Sometimes I start to feel angry towards them, but then I think why should I stress?”
Lynn chooses to fight the battle against her identity with art that is strong, unapologetic and as dark as her mood may be, however risky. When she was approached for the Out of Kuwait program that took 13 Kuwaiti artists to the Edge of Arabia gallery in London, she knew she wanted to do something big and creative. That meant she had to bring them to life through animation.
She hit a brick wall when she looked for experienced classic animators. Yet, she persisted and in the end her project came to fruition, under the general theme of landscapes. An animated Lynn walks between tall buildings, much like the ones in Kuwait City, silent, unable to communicate with the stones around her.
“I am between buildings because just like the people, I cannot talk to buildings. I wanted to focus on that,” she said.
Today, Lynn is working on the album cover for Zahed Sultan’s upcoming release in April. We are sure you will see a lot more of this strong willed, talented artist.