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Barjeel Art Foundation exhibition spotlights 20th-century landscape painting in Arab world
By a Staff Reporter March 14, 2017
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SHARJAH: The Sharjah-based Barjeel Art Foundation inaugurated last week an art exhibition from its permanent collection at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts in Amman. UAE Ambassador to Jordan Bilal Rabie Al Budoor attended the opening which was held under the patronage of Princess Rym al-Ali and Princess Wijdan Ali, founder of the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts.

Curated by Suheyla Takesh and Dr Khalid Khreis, this exhibition, which is being held till May 31, explores the development of landscape painting and portraiture in the Arab World in the first half of the 20th century.

It looks into evolving styles and approaches towards representation, along with the artists’ subjective perspectives and understanding of the world.

The exhibition seeks to highlight the technical skill and craftsmanship that painting in the early 20th century involved, and to contextualise the development of formal simplification and abstraction, which occurred towards the middle of the century. It also aims to illustrate that the work of contemporary practitioners does not exist independently from its precedents, but has emerged as a result of a cumulative art history. Lines of Subjectivity will include works from artists from Armenia, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Sudan, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Lebanon, and others.

Paintings selected for this show not only reflect a socio-political condition of their time and individual preoccupations of their makers, but bear testimonies to the academic training and cross-geographic, cross-societal exposure – at times within their own countries – that these artists had. Many of the presented painters began training in their places of origin under established masters, later receiving government scholarships to study in international (typically European) art academies or independently seeking academic opportunities abroad.

Many of them returned home, re-evaluating familiar scenes and previously habitual experiences, as well as local materials and methods of production. Some also took on students or directed art departments at local universities, creating ever-expanding networks of influences. For instance, Habib Srour and Khalil Gibran, whose presence is marked in the exhibition by their depictions of nudes, both studied portraiture under the tutelage of Daoud Corm in Lebanon before pursuing further schooling away from home. Srour then went on to employ the young Saliba Douaihy, whose work also makes an appearance in the show, as an apprentice in his atelier, setting him up for a nearly six-decade long career as an artist.

The exhibition’s development was led by an enquiry into the academic training and exposure artists received at the turn of the century, as well as ways in which it impacted their practice and outlook towards representation. This became a compelling thread that led the curatorial processes between the curators through the collection of modern work held in the Barjeel Art Foundation to the final display at Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts this month.

Exhibiting artists will include: Habib Srour; Kamel Moustafa; Mohammed Naghi; Abdul Qader Al Rassam; George Sabbagh; Khalil Gibran; Ahmad Nashaat Alzuaby; Ibrahim Salahi; Ervand Demerdjian; Elias Zayat; Abdul Hadi El-Gazzar; Louay Kayyali; Ezekiel Barouk; Faraj Abou; Faiq Hassan; Hatim Elmekki; Paul Guiragossian; Mona Saudi; Saad El Khadem; Saliba Douaihy; Clea Badaro; Abdullah Al-Qassar; Marguerite Nakhla; Ragheb Ayad; Huguette Caland; and others.
 

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