Heidi Leupi (centre), from the AB Gallery. She will be organising an exhibition of Qatari artists in Switzerland this year. Dr Mohamed Abou El Naga, Curator of the exhibition and General Coordinator of the visual art centre at Katara.
Between two cultures exhibition at Katara shows paintings by seven artists that have in common the fact of living on the edge between two different countries and cultures. Born in a country, studied in another one and often lived in a number of countries in between, is the background shared by these artists.
“Every artists in this exhibition has two cultures inside and is in between two cultures,” said Dr Mohamed Abou El Naga, General Coordinator of the Visual Art Center and Curator of the exhibition. Iman Mahmud, for example, was born in Bagdad and lived for over 10 years in Germany.
Halim Al Karim was born in Iraq, graduated at Gerrit Reitveld Academy in Amsterdam and lived in the United States for many years. The curator himself is an Egyptian who has studied and lived in Japan.
“If you want to have a strong identity, you have to open to other cultures and travel, not for tourism, but for knowledge,” El Nega told The Peninsula.
“Strong nationalism is the degeneration of a weak identity closed in itself, while strong identities are open to other cultures, that are curious and that know the world by experiencing it,” he said.
The artists of this exhibition have all been living abroad from their home country and studying Fine Arts Academies and Universities of Fine Arts of different countries going from Salzburg to Tehran, showing that inspiration finds a way of expression only through knowledge.
As El Nega explained, if a country wants to turn into the centre of art, first of all it has to develop art knowledge in its population. “Qatar needs more workshops and Fine art universities. History of art should be introduced in schools as mandatory, as a normal subject to study that enriches your life and personality,” said El Nega.
This exhibition is also an auction as the AB Gallery is selling the paintings and the price range shows that high-middle class business of art is finally coming to Qatar. Going from $1,900 to $20,500, visitors can also buy the paintings that are sold by AB Gallery, which AB stands for Across Borders because the gallery works with the aim of exchanging art between Europe and the Gulf.
“We focus in this region because there is such an interesting art scene over here ignored by the West. So now we concentrate in taking artists from the Gulf to Europe,” Heidi Leupi from the AB Gallery said. She is organising an exhibition of Qatari artists in Switzerland that will take place between 2012 and 2013.
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