HIS­TORY THROUGH ART

Qatar Today - - CULTURE > QT TAKE - BY SINDHU NAIR

Mathaf will never close its doors to art lovers for its per­ma­nent col­lec­tion is now on show. A look through art that spans re­cent his­tor­i­cal times. The mu­seum also in­tro­duces Iran's most pro­lific artist Shirin Ne­shat who touches on fem­i­nism, op­pres­sion and emo­tions of grief and loss that follow the killings dur­ing the Arab Spring.

Some of the art on dis­play at Mathaf: Arab Mu­seum of Mod­ern Art in Doha is fa­mil­iar. They had been on dis­play when the Mu­seum opened its col­lec­tion to the pub­lic in 2010. Now the mu­seum has opened a dis­play of its per­ma­nent col­lec­tion that will be ex­hib­ited through­out the year at the mu­seum on the first floor. En­ti­tled Mathaf Col­lec­tion, Sum­mary, Part 1, the ex­hi­bi­tion presents over 100 artists and has over 400 works from the mu­seum's col­lec­tion of more than 8,000 works that con­tin­ues to grow with new ac­qui­si­tions and com­mis­sions from Mathaf exhibitions. The ex­hi­bi­tion in­cludes works from Qatar and the Arab world, Iran, Turkey and other re­gions his­tor­i­cally con­nected to the Arab Penin­sula, re­flect­ing a mul­ti­tude of artis­tic di­rec­tions and con­texts. This ex­hi­bi­tion also con­trib­utes to de­vel­op­ing re­search into the col­lec­tion and its in­ter­con­nec­tions with con­tem­po­rary cul­tures that is also present on­line in the En­cy­clo­pe­dia of Mod­ern Art and the Arab World, de­vel­oped by Mathaf.

While the col­lec­tion in­cludes some of the most prom­i­nent artists in the re­gion, many of whose works are be­ing sold from auc­tion houses at ridicu­lously high prices

His­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance

IN FLIGHT hik­ing up the value of their works of art, it is a rev­e­la­tion to find so many of them housed within Qatar's own col­lec­tion houses -- a re­flec­tion of how far the coun­try is try­ing to get the best pieces pos­si­ble for its bud­ding col­lec­tion. Though for Ab­del­lah Kar­roum, Di­rec­tor of Mathaf, the col­lec­tion is, “not about the value of the art that we ex­hibit,” but about the “his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance th­ese pieces have on that par­tic­u­lar time and place of his­tory.” He says, “Through this ex­hi­bi­tion we are seek­ing to po­si­tion mod­ern and con­tem­po­rary art from Mathaf's col­lec­tion within the lo­cal and global con­text, and give mul­ti­ple en­try points into the col­lec­tion, through artis­tic re­search, his­tor­i­cal mo­ments and aes­thetic ex­per­i­men­ta­tions on the idea of an Arab moder­nity.”

“In most cases artists were the first and fore­most recorders of his­tory and their art is an im­por­tant doc­u­men­ta­tion that has helped us un­der­stand the his­tory of our re­cent era,” says Kar­roum. Like the de­pic­tion of the re­turn of Mah­mal to Cairo by George C Michelet dated 1902.

But the most strik­ing ex­hibits are show-

Sus­pended To­gether by Manal Al Dowayan, part of Mathaf's

per­ma­nent col­lec­tion.

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