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Kuwait: Art Exhibition Shut Down for “Controversial” Content

Kuwaiti artist Shurooq Amin is in shock after her exhibition of paintings was shut down without an explanation. Reports say that men walked into the show, three hours after its opening, and took the paintings down, saying they had received a complaint over the content of the paintings.

The artist tweeted in shock on the 5th of March when the incident happened saying:

@shurooqamin: They want to take down the #paintings! #art #censorship #kuwait

Over the past few days, an influx of tweets poured in, in support of the painter using the hashtag #painttofreedom. In comment on the allegations against the paintings being ‘immoral and pornographic', a Kuwaiti Twitter user wrote:

@AladdinsWife: If you don't know the definition of pornography it's not our problem! look it up in a damn dictionary!

Artwork by Kuwaiti Mohammed Sharaf against censorship

Shahd Alshammari added:

@ShahdAlshammari: This is so disappointing, when art is sentenced to death.

In an interview with Al-Qabas newspaper, Amin attacked censorship in Kuwait saying the men who closed down her show interpreted the paintings the way they wanted, saying they were disrespectful of the society's tradition and took them down. Al-Qabas indicated that this might be the first incident of its kind in the history of Kuwait. Also, the Kuwaiti leftist movement published a statement online to express their rejection to what they called ‘governmental guardianship over art.’

Meanwhile, columnist and Kuwait university professor Suad Al Mojel (@suadalmojel) tweeted [ar]:

ماحدث في معرض الفنانه شروق أمين من تعدي سافر يؤكد بأن دولة طالبان قد أصبحت قريبه
@suadalmojel: What happened in Shurooq Amin's exhibition is a clear violation and indicates that the state of ‘Taliban’ is coming soon.

Also, blogger Abrar AlShammari wrote a post entitled “Paint to Freedom”:

We can’t find proper books in our own country anymore, now with Virgin being shut down and all the good writers banned in the other bookstores. Our movies are censored, and instead we’re fed a bunch of media advertisements to turn us into consumerist robots during those 15 minutes that the cinema had cut out. Our writings are censored, it’s inappropriate to write about love and inappropriate to address the endless issues our society is facing. How does denial help anyone? Why is it believed that if we pretend a problem doesn’t exist, it’ll go away? It only gets worse the more it’s ignored

AlShammari added:

The intellectuals of the Arab society need to unite to fight censorship and ignorance and regression.

The paintings seemed controversial for some people as they tackle the sex taboo. The exhibition was entitled “It's a man's world” and this was one of the painting deemed as controversial. It was posted on Twitter:

One of Shurooq Amin's paintings, posted by May Al Najjar on Twitter

One of Shurooq Amin's paintings, posted by May Al Najjar on Twitter

In reaction to shutting down her exhibition, Amin posted her paintings on her website here.

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