Last Updated on July 5, 2023

The largest exhibition of Arab Art ever presented in London will occur from 20 July through 23 August, 2023 at Christie’s Headquarters in St. James’s, London.  “Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World” will bring together works of art across mediums in an exhibition which collectively celebrates the creativity, diversity and history of Arab Art, situated within two distinct sections, “Kawkaba: Highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation,” and “Emirati Art Reimagined: Hassan Sharif and the Contemporary Voices.” 

This will be the first time that such an extensive exhibition of Arab art will have been on view in London via a unique partnership with the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth and the Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, UAE.  The exhibition is curated by Dr. Ridha Moumni, Deputy Chairman, Christie’s Middle East and North Africa.

“‘Modern and Contemporary Art’ is a unique opportunity to bring together masterpieces by leading artists of the Arab World,” Moumni said. “The exhibition not only celebrates high-profile artists such as Hassan Sharif, but shines a light on the unparalleled creativity, diversity, and rich histories of North African and West Asian cultures. Christie’s is honoured to partner with two prestigious cultural institutions for what will be an exceptional moment for the arts and culture of the Arab World in London this summer.”

Kawkaba: Highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation

Kawkaba, ‘constellations’ in Arabic, is a loan exhibition of 100 masterpieces from the Barjeel Art Foundation which was created in 2010 by Sultan Soud Al Qassemi. This exhibition, assembled from works across the region, pays homage to the rich artistic diversity of the Arab world, resonating with a myriad of artistic voices from the Middle East and North Africa.

‘Kawkaba’, a gender-balanced exhibition, magnifies the vibrant tapestry of Modern Arab art, shedding light on both regionally celebrated and underrepresented artists. This exhibition is a window into the soul of the Arab world, revealing an exploration of the region’s richness while paying tribute to its unwavering resilience and boundless creativity.

‘Kawkaba’ invites visitors to marvel at the unique collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation and partake in a transformative artistic and cultural journey into the Arab World.

Inji Efflatoun, Egypt, 1924–1989; 
Dreams of the Detainee, 1961.
Inji Efflatoun, Egypt, 1924–1989; Dreams of the Detainee, 1961. (Kawkaba: Highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation)

“The exhibition is a rare opportunity to view in person a selection of artworks from some of the most prominent artists from West Asia and North Africa that have been collected over 20 years. The vast majority of the artworks in the exhibition have never been seen in the U.K. before,” Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, Founder, Barjeel Art Foundation, said. “The works include a gender balanced selection which allows for visitors to appreciate the role that modern women artists played in the establishment of a flourishing Modern art movement in the region. Barjeel Art Foundation is especially proud to be collaborating with Christie’s on this unique exhibition from whom many of these works have been collected over the years.”

Emirati Art Reimagined: Hassan Sharif and the Contemporary Voices

This is a selling and loan exhibition including works by pioneering Emirati artist Hassan Sharif, representing his multi-disciplinary body of work. Sharif is widely regarded as a central figure in contemporary and conceptual art in the region.

The collection showcases the breadth and depth of his practice with paintings, works on paper, sculpture,
installations and textile based works from the 1980’s to 2015, a year before the artist passed away. Sharif
lived most of his life in Dubai moving between roles as an artist, an educator and a mentor to many
contemporary artists in the UAE and also inspired many of the established and emerging talent that are
prevalent across the Gulf today where his enduring influence on the Emirati art scene continues to be
seen.

Pieces by Hassan Sharif will be presented alongside works by contemporary Emirati artists representative of youth and female practitioners, in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth. The Ministry of Culture and Youth is committed to supporting, nurturing and promoting the presence of Emirati arts globally and their collection includes works by Hussain Sharif, Mohammed Kazem, Farah Al Qasimi, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, and others.

Entry to the exhibitions is free

Author

  • Chadd Scott

    Chadd Scott is an arts contributor with Forbes and the founder of See Great Art, where he writes about his travels from big city museums to small town galleries in search of great art.

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