Unveiling the Splendour of Arab Art: A Spectacular Exhibition in London

Christie’s, the renowned auction house, is set to host the most significant exhibition of Arab Art in London to date at its headquarters this summer.

Titled “Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World,” this extraordinary showcase will bring together a diverse range of artworks that celebrate the creativity, diversity, and historical significance of Arab Art. Divided into two captivating sections, namely “Kawkaba: Highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation” and “Emirati Art Reimagined: Hassan Sharif and the Contemporary Voices,” this exhibition marks a momentous occasion as it introduces a comprehensive collection of Arab art to London audiences.

The event is made possible through a unique collaboration between Christie’s, the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth, and the Barjeel Art Foundation located in Sharjah, UAE. Dr Ridha Moumni, Deputy Chairman of Christie’s Middle East and North Africa, expertly curates this extraordinary exhibition.

Kawkaba: Illuminating the Barjeel Art Foundation

The section titled “Kawkaba,” meaning “constellations” in Arabic, is a loan exhibition featuring 100 masterpieces from the esteemed Barjeel Art Foundation. Founded in 2010 by Sultan Soud Al Qassemi, the Barjeel Art Foundation aims to celebrate the rich artistic diversity of the Arab world. The exhibition showcases works from across the region, paying tribute to the myriad of artistic voices that have emerged from the Middle East and North Africa.

Unveiling the Splendour of Arab Art: A Spectacular Exhibition in London
Marwan Kassab-Bachi Syria, 1934–2016 Head, c.1975-76
(Kawkaba: Highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation)

Kawkaba” offers a gender-balanced representation, magnifying the vibrant tapestry of Modern Arab art while shedding light on both celebrated and underrepresented artists. It provides visitors with a unique window into the soul of the Arab world, where they can explore the region’s richness, unwavering resilience, and boundless creativity. By immersing themselves in this exhibition, visitors have the opportunity to marvel at the unique collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation and embark on a transformative artistic and cultural journey through the Arab world.

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, Founder of Barjeel Art Foundation comments, ‘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.

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: Celebrating Hassan Sharif and Contemporary Voices

The second section of the exhibition, titled “Emirati Art Reimagined: Hassan Sharif and the Contemporary Voices,” offers a selling and loan exhibition that showcases the pioneering work of Emirati artist Hassan Sharif. Regarded as a central figure in contemporary and conceptual art in the region, Sharif’s multidisciplinary body of work exemplifies his profound influence.

Unveiling the Splendour of Arab Art: A Spectacular Exhibition in London
Hassan Sharif (Emirati 1951 – 2016) Sand Dollar No. 7 (Emirati Art Reimagined: Hassan Sharif and the Contemporary Voices)

The collection includes paintings, works on paper, sculptures, installations, and textile-based works, spanning from the 1980s to 2015, a year before the artist’s passing. Having spent most of his life in Dubai, Sharif held various roles as an artist, educator, and mentor to numerous contemporary artists in the UAE. His enduring influence on the Emirati art scene continues to inspire established and emerging talents throughout the Gulf.

In collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth, pieces by Hassan Sharif will be showcased alongside works by contemporary Emirati artists, with a special emphasis on the representation of young and female practitioners. This collaboration underscores the Ministry’s commitment to nurturing and promoting Emirati arts globally. Notable artists featured in the exhibition include Hussain Sharif, Mohammed Kazem, Farah Al Qasimi, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, and others.

An Unprecedented Collaboration to Showcase Arab Art in London

Dr Ridha Moumni, Deputy Chairman of Christie’s Middle East and North Africa and the exhibition’s curator commented on this landmark exhibition: ‘Modern and Contemporary Art of the region is a unique opportunity to bring together masterpieces by leading artists of the Arab World. 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, the Barjeel Art Foundation and The Ministry of Culture and Youth, United Arab Emirates, for what will be an exceptional moment for the arts and culture of the Arab World in London this summer’. 

The eagerly awaited “Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World” exhibition will open its doors on 20 July and captivate visitors until 23 August. The exhibition offers free entry to all those eager to explore the splendour and artistic wonders of the Arab world. Don’t miss this extraordinary opportunity to immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of Arab art right in the heart of London.

Images: Christie’s