London expo displays works of 11 Qatari artists

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Reconnecting Arts, an artist-led platform supporting emerging contemporary Middle Eastern creatives, opened its latest exhibition last week in the Menier Gallery in London, showcasing works by Qatari and regional artists. The exhibition will run until 2 September, 2017.

Opening night was attended by Yousef bin Ali Al Khater, Qatar's Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Fahad Mohammed Al Kuwari, Assistant Cultural Attaché of the Embassy of Qatar in the United Kingdom, Hamad Mohammed Hussein Ali Almuftah, Minister Plenipotentiary at the Embassy of Qatar in the United Kingdom, and Ali Saleh Al-Fadhala, Counsellor at the Embassy of Qatar in the United Kingdom.

Supported by Qatar Museums (QM), the exhibition, titled Transition, displays works by more than 40 emerging Middle Eastern artists, 11 of whom are Qatari. Each artist used various forms or art to express the many ways ‘transition’ played a role in their lives.

Covering a wide range of media – including fine art, calligraphy, sculpture, photography, video and installations – the exhibition highlights Arab contemporary art as a developing form of expression that enables individuals to reflect on their personal experiences. It showcases a diverse and fresh selection of work that encourages dialogue about the power of connection and the complexities of change geographically, personally and artistically.

Amongst the rich and varied topics addressed are the effect of urbanisation and displacement, the impact of balancing different cultures within one’s own identity, as well as gender roles, embracing faith and the future of the Middle East.

Yousef bin Ali Al Khater, Qatar's Ambassador to the United Kingdom, said:

“I’m delighted to witness the unique talent produced from this generation of Arab artists. They presented a mix of works inspired by Arabian art, heritage, and cultural traditions, and found a way to preserve our identify by infusing it in contemporary and modern art, the language of the current world.”

Khalid Al-Ibrahim, Chief Strategic Planning Office at Qatar Museums, said:

“This artist-led initiative perfectly reflects our commitment to giving young and emerging artists a space to grow and flourish. This exhibition is further proof of just how much the artistic community in Qatar is growing, and the richness of Arab artistic voices that are taking shape across the wider region. We are very proud of the talented local artists that have contributed so much for this exhibition, and encourage as many people as possible to visit the show and celebrate their success.”

As part of its commitment to facilitate cross-cultural dialogue, Reconnecting Arts organises an annual exhibition to increase visibility and appreciation for emerging Arab artists in the region and internationally. Reconnecting Arts also promotes its mission through workshops that take place on the sidelines of the exhibition.

The Qatari artists featured in this exhibition are:

·      Abdulaziz Yousef (Qatar) is an artist with a passion for cartoons. He believes that cartoons unleash our imaginations and therefore have the power to challenge our ties and limitations. His cartoons represent the world of wonders he lives in and strive to celebrate life.

·      Ahmed Al Jufairi (Qatar) is a graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar, majoring in painting and print-making. He infuses his sole inspiration – Beyoncé – with his surrounding culture. The essence of his work revolves around the idea of hope and endless possibilities.

·      Amna Al Baker (Qatar) She uses film, instant photography and art to express herself and explore the world around her. Her past works include a documentary short It’s About Women on the topic of women’s rights in Qatar.

·      Farah Altaweel (Qatar) She develops creative learning opportunities for children and uses photography to explore spaces and document people’s interactions with each other and the context they are in as well as raising awareness on topics including children’s rights, social justice and accessibility.

·      Fatima Mohammed (Qatar) an artist who works in mixed media, printmaking and installation art. Her work is focused on the social anatomy of the Arabian Gulf and how it changes over time the through the perspective of her fictional world of 3naj (Anaj).

·      Hessa Al-Ali (Qatar). Hessa Al Ali is a Qatari Designer, graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar with a degree in Graphic Design. She has been working in Qatar Museums since 2007 where she has been involved in branding, advertising, and product design. She is influenced by arts and every form of design, from fashion to interior to product design. Most of her design creations tend to carry the Qatari identity strongly in a contemporary way. She aims to reintroduce her culture in a new light to local audience and export it to an international audience.

·      Maryam Yousuf Al-Homaid (Qatar) is an interdisciplinary designer, the youngest generation in a family of artists. She mixes physical media with digital techniques to create series of installations and products that communicate the concept of change.

·      Nada Abdulkareem Baker (Qatar) An illustrator and concept designer, she creates narratives and characters inspired by Islamic folktales, video games and animation.

·      Nasser Al-Attiyah (Qatar) A self-taught artist, his work is based on stories from Qatari culture and myths that have been shared since the country’s pearl-diving past.

·      Sara Khalid Al-Buainain (Qatar) is a recent graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University with a BFA in fine arts, with a focus on painting and printmaking. She works with a variety of mediums and themes, focused on the idea of authenticity and identity.