19 July 2019

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Artists and the Cultural Foundation: The Early Years

7 December 2018 @ 10.00 am - 6.00 pm


The Qasr Al Hosn cultural centre reopens on 7 December in Abu Dhabi with an opening exhibition worthy of the event. It features more than 100 works by Emirati artists who were active in the Foundation in the 1980s and 90s, including works from that time plus some new commissions. “The exhibition will be a visual and symbolic representation of the artistic diversity of the UAE”, as the press release puts it.

Artists and the Cultural Foundation: The Early Years will trace points of connection and divergence among these early cohorts of Cultural Foundation artists, inviting visitors to reflect on the past and present of Abu Dhabi’s home-grown art community.”

Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of DCT Abu Dhabi (the Dept of Culture and Tourism), summarised the exhibition like this: “The Cultural Foundation was a gathering place, a home for exchange and debate and a beacon for intellectual inspiration. Many of our UAE artists had their firsts there – their first introduction to art, first exhibition, first sale of an artwork. With its reopening, the Cultural Foundation is now a modern heritage building that will once again celebrate all forms of culture and regain its status as the cultural heart of Abu Dhabi.”

Artists and the Cultural Foundation: The Early Years is curated by Maya Allison, Chief Curator and Executive Director of NYUAD Art Gallery, along with Alia Lootah, Senior Curatorial Assistant at Louvre Abu Dhabi. In her tenure at the Art Gallery, Allison has become immersed in the development of contemporary art in the UAE in general and must be regarded as one of the leading commentators on the scene; Alia Lootah’s day job is complemented by her background as an interesting (and successful) working artist. These look like great choices for what could be a landmark show.

They have certainly created an exhibition that includes examples from most of the big names – Hassan Sharif, Mohammed Yousif, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Mohammed Al Astad, Abdulraheem Salim, Abdel Qader Al Rais, Mohammed Al Qassab, Mohammed Mandi, Mohammed Yousif – to more recent work from the likes of Jalal Luqman and Obaid Suroor. Artists and the Cultural Foundation: The Early Years is like a crash course in UAE contemporary art. It’ll be a while before we see so many significant artists from the Emirates shown together in the same place at the same time.

To 8 June.

Above: Hassan Sharif, Spoons 5, 2008



7 December 2018
10.00 am - 6.00 pm
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Qasr Al Hosn
Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Street
Abu Dhabi,
+971 2 697 6400