The modern Bahraini art movement emerged in the 1950s, with the establishment of an Arts and Literature club in 1952. The club served as an umbrella group for professional and amateur artists, musicians, and actors in Bahrain.
In 1956, the first art exhibition was held in the Bahraini capital, Manama. Expressionism and surrealism, as well as calligraphic art are the popular forms of art in the country. Abstract expressionism has gained popularity in recent decades.
In 1983, the Bahrain Arts Society was founded when a group of 34 Bahraini artists approached the government and asked for a non-profit cultural organisation to be established. The society hosted multiple exhibitions in and out of the country and offered training in the arts of sculpting, pottery, Arabic calligraphy, painting, interior designing and photography. Most Bahraini artists in the 20th century were trained in Cairo or Baghdad, the cultural art capitals of the Arab world. It was in this period that expressionism and surrealism became widely popular in the country. Arabic calligraphy grew in popularity as the Bahraini government was an active patron in Islamic art, culminating in the establishment of an Islamic museum, Beit Al Quran. The Bahrain national museum houses a permanent contemporary art exhibition.
Traditional Bahraini architecture is similar to that of its Gulf neighbours. The wind tower, which generates natural ventilation in a house, is a common site on old buildings, particularly in the old districts of Manama and Muharraq.
The Bahrain hosts six art galleries:
- Albareh Art Gallery, in Adliya
- Al Riwaq Gallery, in Adliya
- Ella Art Gallery, in Hoora
- The La fontaine centre of contemporary art, in Hoora
- Nadine Gallery, in Umm Al Hassam
- Seana Mercedes Mallen, in Awali