Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art Announces Details of Its Three Opening Exhibitions

Fateh al-Moudarres, Title Unknown, 1962. Mixed media on canvas, 
69.8 x 99.7 cm © Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art.

Source: Art Daily

DOHA.- Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art revealed the
details of the three exhibitions it will present when it opens
to the public on December 30, 2010. Historic works of Arab
modernism and a multitude of new works commissioned by
Mathaf will be on view at two sites in Doha, Qatar.

The new Museum will open its 5,500-square-meter
(59,000-square-foot) building with Sajjil: A Century of Modern Art.
This will be the first in an ongoing series of exhibitions that will
survey Mathaf’s unparalleled collection of more than 6,000 works
representing major trends and sites of production of modern
Arab art, spanning the 1840s to the present. Sajjil, an Arabic word
meaning the act of recording, will feature paintings and sculptures
by more than 100 artists, representing pivotal moments in the
development of Arab modernism throughout the 20th century.
Sajjil is organized by guest curator and consultant Dr. Nada Shabout,
Associate Professor of Art History and Director of the Contemporary
Arab and Muslim Cultural Studies Institute at the University of
North Texas; Wassan Al-Khudhairi, Mathaf’s Chief Curator and
Acting Director; and Deena Chalabi, Mathaf’s Head of Strategy.

The historical exhibition Sajjil makes its own contribution to rethinking
the position of Arab artists toward modernism and within the
modernist movement. While making a space for modern art from the
Arab world within the wider history of art, Sajjil explores the multiplicity
of experiences that form modern art from the Arab world. Organised
around themes that overlap and intersect, the exhibition emphasizes
the severalcommon moments that justify the discussion of a collective
Arab identity, but at the same time acknowledges discontinuity and
rupture as part of the story.

“The creation of Mathaf has been the result of many years of
interactions with living Arab artists,” stated His Excellency Sheikh
Hassan bin Mohamed bin Ali Al-Thani, founder of Mathaf and
Vice-Chairperson of the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA).
“We have supported these artists in their work and learned about
the inspiration they take from their predecessors. Our three
inaugural exhibitions reflect Mathaf’s commitment to modern and
contemporary art from the Arab world as a living history and a
continuing exploration.”

At a new QMA exhibition space located on the grounds of the
Museum of Islamic Art, Mathaf will also present the exhibitions
Interventions and Told / Untold / Retold, which will be on view
from December 30, 2010 to May 28, 2011.

Interventions: a dialogue between the modern and the contemporary,
curated by Nada Shabout, will profile five major artists whose careers
have spanned the years from modern to contemporary art. They
are Dia Azzawi, Farid Belkahia, Ahmed Nawar, Ibrahim el-Salahi
and Hassan Sharif. A new work commissioned by Mathaf from
each of these artists will be shown in the context of existing works
by the artists from the Mathaf collection.

The exhibition honors the lives and careers of these artists, who
have forged and promoted modern art in their respective countries
and remain influential today. Because Arabism was a major factor
in the maturation of modern art from the Arab world when they
came of age, their work has sometimes manifested a search for
cultural identity and a desire to preserve cultural distinctiveness.
At the same time, these artists have never sacrificed aesthetic
growth, or abandoned the existential quest for understanding the
modern self.

In speaking of the artists, Shabout said, “All five have challenged
many social conventions and on various occasions pushed the
envelope of what was permitted publicly. We hope that Interventions
will be the first of a number of exhibitions that will recognise key
achievements in constructing the history of modern art from the
Arab world, and that will provide spaces for writing this history.”

Told / Untold / Retold: 23 stories of journeys through time and
place will present new works commissioned by Mathaf from
23 contemporary artists with roots in the Arab world. The most
ambitious museum exhibition of contemporary art ever
presented in the Arab world, Told / Untold / Retold will include
painting, sculpture, photography, video, multimedia installations
and interactive digital art. The participating artists are Adel Abidin,
Sadik Kwaish Alfraji, Buthayna Ali, Ahmed Alsoudani, Ghada Amer,
Kader Attia, Lara Baladi, Wafaa Bilal, Abdelkader Benchamma,
Mounir Fatmi, Lamia Joreige, Amal Kenawy, Jeffar Khaldi,
Hassan Khan, Youssef Nabil, Walid Raad, Khalil Rabah,
Younès Rahmoun, Steve Sabella, Marwan Sahmarani,
Zineb Sedira, Khaled Takreti, and Akram Zaatari.
Told / Untold / Retold is curated by Sam Bardouil and Till Fellrath,
\the co-founders of Art Reoriented, a curatorial platform focusing
on contemporary art from the Middle East.

Told / Untold / Retold is a collection of 23 stories each vividly
expressed in a new art work. Some stories are “Told,” evoking
autobiographical accounts and nostalgia for the things that were.
Other stories are “Untold,” anticipating an imagined future that
speaks of things that could be. And there are those that are “Retold,”
proposing an alternative narrative to the things that are. Central to
each story is the use of time as a concrete compositional element
and the reflection on the act of journeying, a condition that has come
to describe the rampant fluidity of today’s society.

In discussing the curatorial theme of the exhibition, Bardaouil and
Fellrath said, “Today’s artists are in constant transmigration across
a diversity of cities and locations, yet never escaping redundant
geographical labels through which their work is misconstrued. They
are in perpetual metamorphosis, in a state of ‘in-betweenness’.
These journeys occur not only in place, but also in time. When you
move and leave things behind, you remember, recollect and
reconstruct, but you also reorient and redirect yourself. These are
all acts into which time is intricately weaved. This explains why time
is often a significant formalistic component within contemporary
artistic practice. In that sense, Told / Untold / Retold is a subversive
confrontation, celebrating a willful act of uprooting that is reflective
of the transient condition of our world.”

Mathaf is the outgrowth of more than two decades of activity by His
Excellency Sheikh Hassan. The collection was adopted originally by
Qatar Foundation, which safeguarded it for four years before QMA
took on the Museum as a project in partnership with Qatar
Foundation. Overseeing the establishment and opening of Mathaf
is QMA Chairperson Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint
Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. 

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