Mathaf, Arab Museum of Modern Arab announces plans for future in Beirut
Qatar Museum Authority's Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art announced its plans to provide a forum
that raises awareness and interest in modern art at the second of its
pre-launch events, held in Beirut.
"There has never been one museum that encapsulates art from the entirety
of the Arab world and we hope to rectify that by providing a space where
people from the region can learn about their modern and contemporary art
and visitors from further afield can learn about the region and its
art,” announced Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Thani, Qatar
Museums Authority's Vice Chairperson of the Board of Directors and
founder of the museum.
Mathaf Acting Director and Chief Curator Wassan Al-Khudhairi spoke of
the role that interactivity and dialogue will play at the new museum.
"We will be a highly interactive institution, and the importance of
opening now in this temporary location is to engage with our public
while we develop our final and permanent location. The feedback we
receive from our public will heavily affect the development of the
institution," she said.
Ms. Al-Khudairi added that Mathaf would provide a space for students,
scholars, artists and the general public to gather and engage in modern
and contemporary art from the region.
The event took place at Le Gray hotel in Beirut's Martyr Square and
included a talk on The "Lost" Canons of Modern Arab Art, which touched
upon Mathaf's potential role in locating and highlighting specific
stories about the Arab art scene over the last hundred years.
Renowned art historian and curator Dr. Nada Shabout was interviewed by
Antonia Carver, art critic, writer and director of the popular Art Dubai
fair. The event was attended by some of the most prominent names in the
modern and contemporary Arab art world, including celebrated Iraqi
artist Dia Azzawi, in addition to pillars of the Lebanese art scene.
Dr. Shabout talked of the fruits that have come from artistic dialogue
in the past. "There is a myth I'd like to address concerning the artists
of the early twentieth century; it is widely believed that these artists
lived within their own bubbles, not communicating or working with one
another. From the research I have conducted, I've found that the actual
situation was quite the opposite: they were most likely better connected
to one another than artists of our own day and age," she said.
Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed bin Ali Al Thani reacted to Beirut’s warm
reception of the project by explaining the importance of the city for
the Arab art community.
"Our choice of cities for this announcement tour was very deliberate:
Cairo, our first stop on the tour, is the city where art was first
taught in the region and is rich in art history; Beirut has long been a
focal point for art production and the strongest art market in the Arab
world and Marrakech has always been the gateway to the western frontier,
always proving itself to be a meeting point for culture and art," he