Browsing 'art' News

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The Manhattan skyline

A Qatari man hoping to promote cross-cultural understanding and debunk myths about Muslims is launching a new Islamic art museum in downtown New York next month.

Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Al-Thani told Doha News that he hopes the Institute of Arab and Islamic Art (IAIA) will “challenge stereotypes and grant artist, curators and writers from the region an opportunity to engage with a broader audience.”

The institute will present three to four temporary exhibitions a year.


Photo for illustrative purposes only.

They will feature artists from the Arab and Islamic world, with the aim of “enabling them to join a broader global conversation,” the IAIA’s website states.

Its first exhibition will go live on May 3 and involve Islamic architecture and geometry, Al Thani told Doha News.

“Though there are foundations in the US that engage in Arab and Islamic Art, the narratives presented and the exhibitions curated by these foundations are not quite reflective of our societies and cultures,” he added.


A graduate of Georgetown University in Qatar’s School of Foreign Service, Al Thani has worked for the UN and Qatar Foundation.

He is currently writing a dissertation on Cezane and the advent of Fauvism and Cubism.

Cezane’s Card Players, reportedly bought by Qatar for record-breaking $250 million.

The IAIA is a non-profit organization funded by several donors from around the world, but does not have ties to governments, Al Thani said.

Qataris and Emiratis, including Mohammed Al Rabban, Sheikh Nasser Al-Thani, Sheikh Rashid Al-Thani, Safiya Al-Ghaith and Sheikha Sharifa Al-Qubaisi, are listed on the museum’s website as its founding benefactors.


In addition to exhibitions, the institute also plans to launch a residency program. This will be for artists, critics and curators who are interested in engaging with a New York audience.

Residents will be provided housing and workspace, as well as learn about different artistic movements that originated in New York. They will also present work and projects at the IAIA.

Navin Sam / Doha News

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Another goal of the institute is to increase knowledge of Islamic civilization and history.

It plans to do this by engaging writers and scholars in translations and publications, the museum’s website states.

Finally, the IAIA is planning to host an outreach program with schools and universities through collaborations with Arab cultural center across the US, Al Thani said.


All photos courtesy of Qatar Museums

More than 120 works by renowned 20th Century artists Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti will be shown in Qatar for the first time next year.

The free exhibition runs from Feb. 23 to May 21, 2017 at the Doha Fire Station. It will be the first time that pieces by these artists will be exhibited in the Middle East, Qatar Museums said.

The collection includes paintings, sculptures, sketches and photographs, as well as interviews with the artists.

Fire Station

Chantelle D'mello

Fire Station

They will all be on display in the exhibition space of the converted old Civil Defense building on Wadi Al Sail.

The exhibition will include some major works by both artists spanning decades of their careers, such as Picasso’s Self Portrait (1901), Woman Throwing a Stone (1931) and The She Goat (1950).

Meanwhile, key pieces by Giacometti include Flower in Danger (1932), Tall Woman (1960) and Walking Man (1960).

In addition to the original works, there will also be some rare and fragile casts, newly-discovered drawings and photographic archives.

Finally, the exhibition will include some replicas of Giacometti’s works for visually impaired visitors to touch, QM said in a statement yesterday.

Qatar exhibition

The exhibition follows on the heels of a bigger version of the Picasso-Giacometti show, which is currently open to the public at the Musée National Picasso in Paris.

That display contains around 200 works across eight sections and runs until Feb. 5 next year, closing just two weeks before the Doha exhibition opens.

The pieces on display in Qatar are on loan mostly from the Musée National Picasso and the Fondation Giacometti, which are both based in Paris. There will also be other works borrowed from collections internationally.

Pablo Picasso's The Bathers


Pablo Picasso\’s The Bathers

The collection will be divided into six sections. Each will cover different aspects of each artist’s work – from their early pieces as young artists to more modern ones.

It will chart “the correspondences between their works, the influence of the surrealist movement, and the return to realism during the post-war period,” QM said.

Previously, experts at the two Paris galleries spent two years researching the links between the artists.

They found documents, notebooks and sketches showing that, despite a 20-year age difference, they shared personal moments with each other.

These ranged from their first meeting in the early 1930s until after the second World War.

Catherine Grenier, director of the Fondation Giacometti, curated the Doha exhibition along with associate curators Serena Bucalo-Mussely, also from the Fondation Giacometti, and Virginie Perdrisot from the Musee National Picasso-Paris.

Artists’ hub

This is the biggest exhibition to be hosted by the Fire Station since it opened in 2015 as a gallery. It also contains a café and studio space for emerging artists.

Previous exhibitions include work from those taking part in its Artists’ in Residence program, which is now in its second year.

Installation of the artwork at the Fire Station

Qatar Museums/Twitter

Installation of artwork at the Fire Station

Although the items on display in this exhibition will all be international loans, Qatar is rumored to have bought some of its own Picasso works.

In 2013, Picasso’s Child With Dove painting sold in London for $74.5 million and left the UK after 85 years there – reportedly to travel to Qatar.

Who’s planning on going to the exhibition? Thoughts?

Discover Arabia Performing and Visual Art Center

Tara Fraiture / Doha News

Discover Arabia Performing and Visual Art Center

A new art center has opened in Qatar this month that combines creative expression with lessons about the nation’s culture and heritage.

The Discover Arabia Performing and Visual Art Center is located near Landmark Mall and offers classes in art, pottery and music for kids and adults.

It is the brainchild of Sveta Rhodes, a professional music and art teacher and longtime Doha resident.

Sveta Rhodes

Tara Fraiture / Doha News

Sveta Rhodes

Speaking to Doha News recently, Rhodes said she’s been dreaming of opening the center for years.

“I’ve been living in Doha for 10 years now, and there was never a place for adults and children to express themselves in an artistic way. We want to inspire everyone to find their love for the arts, no matter what age they are.”


Discover Arabia has a unique mandate in that it integrates art classes with lessons on Qatari culture and preserving the environment.

For example, before pottery lessons are given, children can collect clay from the beaches near Al Thakhira. The material is akin to the clay that was used to make Qatari pottery for centuries.

Sometimes, plants and reeds from around the country are also incorporated into the finished pieces.

During classes, students can make coasters, plates and magnets inspired by Doha’s skyline, or sculpt their own masterpieces by hand.

Magnet art

Tara Fraiture / Doha News

Magnet art

The center is also equipped with electric pottery wheels and a large kiln for firing the finished artwork.


Many classes at the center are taught by certified professionals from the Ukraine and Russia.

Among the instruments used are string, woodwind, piano and African drums.

Speaking to Doha News, parent Denise West praised the guitar and saxophone classes that her 10-year-old has been taking:

“Sveta’s talented troupe has given her the confidence to perform solo in front of a large crowd at school. I asked my daughter what she thought of the evening and she said, ‘I felt alive.’”

Eventually, Discover Arabia hopes to create an ensemble orchestra with students of all ages.

The orchestra would then perform weekly “Thursday Night Concerts” to give the community an opportunity to listen to live music for free.

Currently, the concerts are performed by professionals at the center from 5 to 7pm each Thursday, and entry is QR40/person.


The art center is also expanding its reach through partnerships. It has tied up with outdoor adventure company Entalek, which is run by Sveta Rhodes’ husband, Steve Rhodes.

So far, the center has taken groups of school children outdoors for kayaking and learning about mangrove preservation.

Museum of Islamic Art

Mohammed Zuber Shaikh/Flickr

Museum of Islamic Art

Other tie-ups include one with the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA).

The art center will soon set up a permanent base on the museum grounds, with the idea of linking current exhibitions at the MIA museum to teaching pottery and sculpture.

This will be supervised and directed by the center’s visual art professional teachers, who will teach school children in the mornings and offer private courses for children and families in the afternoons.


Opening a professional music and art center has not been an easy endeavor.

According to Rhodes, the biggest challenges has been finding a large, well-lit venue that would be conducive to teaching children.

Another obstacle was getting the government to approve the center, which was a long and tiring process.

Discover Arabia Performing and Visual Art Center

Tara Fraiture / Doha News

Discover Arabia Performing and Visual Art Center

Lastly, the staff has had to find a balance between the cost of lessons and paying the rent for the center itself.

Currently, four sessions of pottery classes cost QR200, while four music sessions at QR150. Prices go down per session is the classes are taken for longer.

But for Rhodes, the challenges were worth overcoming to bring a love of creative expression to people in Qatar.

“Anything is possible and it’s never to late to appreciate music and art.”

The Discover Arabia Art Center is open Monday to Saturday from 9am to 8 pm. It is closed on Sundays. More information about it can be found here.