Christie’s to host largest exhibition of Arab art in London

It will be the first time such an extensive collection of Arab artwork will be available to view in the UK

Christie's hosts biggest Arab art exhibition in London

Christie's hosts biggest Arab art exhibition in London
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More than 150 works of Middle East art, including paintings, sculptures, drawings and installations from between 1939 and 2023, are to go on display in London.

The works will be part of Christie's summer exhibition, Modern and Contemporary Art from the Arab World.

The exhibition celebrates the creativity, diversity and history of Arab art, in two distinct sections: Kawkaba, Highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation; and Emirati Art Reimagined: Hassan Sharif and the Contemporary Voices.

It will be the first time such an extensive exhibition of Arab art will be on view in London after a unique partnership with the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth and the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah.

The exhibition is curated by Dr Ridha Moumni, deputy chairman of Christie’s for Mena, and will take place from July 20 to August 23 at Christie’s in central London.

Kawkaba: Highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation

Kawkaba, meaning "constellations" in Arabic, is a loan exhibition of 100 masterpieces from the Barjeel Art Foundation, which was created in 2010 by Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi.

This exhibition, assembled from works across the region, pays homage to the rich artistic diversity of the Arab world, resonating with a myriad artistic voices from the Mena region.

Kawkaba is a gender-balanced exhibition that magnifies the vibrant tapestry of Modern Arab art, shedding light on regionally celebrated and underrepresented artists.

This exhibition is a window into the soul of the Arab world, revealing an exploration of the region's richness while paying tribute to its unwavering resilience and boundless creativity.

Kawkaba invites visitors to take part in a transformative artistic and cultural journey into the Arab world.

"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," Mr Al Qassemi said.

"The vast majority of the artworks in the exhibition have never been seen in the UK 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," he added.

Emirati Art Reimagined: Hassan Sharif and the Contemporary Voices

This is a selling and loan exhibition including works by pioneering Emirati artist Hassan Sharif, representing his multi-disciplinary body of work.

Sharif is widely regarded as a central figure in contemporary and conceptual art in the region.

The collection displays the breadth and depth of his practice with paintings, works on paper, sculpture, installations and textile-based works from the 1980s to 2015, a year before the artist died.

Sharif lived most of his life in Dubai, moving between roles as an artist, an educator and a mentor to many contemporary artists in the UAE.

He also inspired many of the established and emerging talents that are prevalent across the Gulf today, where his enduring influence on the Emirati art scene continues to be seen.

Pieces by Sharif will be presented alongside works by contemporary Emirati artists representative of youth and female practitioners, in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Culture and Youth.

The ministry is committed to supporting, nurturing and promoting the presence of Emirati arts globally and their collection includes works by Sharif, Mohammed Kazem, Farah Al Qasimi, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, and others.

"Modern and contemporary art of the region is a unique opportunity to bring together masterpieces by leading artists of the Arab world," Dr Moumni said.

"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."

Updated: July 21, 2023, 3:41 PM