The Dubai Collection will open its first exhibition, which will include works from the private collection of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, at the Etihad Museum on November 6.
A partnership between Dubai Culture and Art Dubai, the initiative was launched in October 2020 and hopes to create an institutional collection for the emirate with the participation of local art patrons.
The overall aim of The Dubai Collection is to make art collecting more visible and promote a collector base in the UAE.
Sheikha Latifa bint Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Chairperson of Dubai Culture and Chair of the Dubai Collection’s Steering Committee, called the opening a “milestone in the Dubai Collection’s trajectory”.
She also highlighted the inclusion of artworks from Sheikh Mohammed’s collection as a reflection of “commitment and support” to Dubai’s creative sector. “The exhibition will present a rich narrative of 20th century Arab art, which will also highlight the role the Gulf played in documenting this artistic period,” she continued.
The show, titled When Images Speak: Highlights from the Dubai Collection, contains three thematic chapters wherein the works operate as markers of the region’s art history with works by Dia Azzawi, Baya Mahieddine, Naziha Selim, Abdul Qader Al Rais and Fateh Moudarres.
Curator Nada Shabout, who is an art historian, author and professor, said that the exhibition presents “a historical survey of modern and contemporary art from the region” and will include “influential and progressive artists, all of whom played a pivotal role in shaping the modern movements in the region and reflect the socio-cultural dynamics of their time.”
“The 20th century was one of major shifts that resulted in founding the different countries of the Arab World, following periods of colonisation and struggles for independence. In forming national identities and iconography, those artists played a vital role that further aided in the construction of the national consciousness,” she explained.
The first section, Abstract Variations, focuses on the use of abstraction by modern Arab artists such as Azzawi and Omar El Nagdi, who used it as a way to resist, but also to innovate and imagine the future for art in the region.
The show’s second chapter, Societies in Transition, features the works of Mahieddine, Selim, and Asaad Arabi, using the lens of the artist to consider issues in society, history and culture, specifically with the importance of cultural identity amid the rise of internationalism.
Finally, the third section, Evoking the Environment, explores how artists have dealt with place and cities as a way to understand notions of nationhood, belonging, as well as the changing landscapes as areas turned from rural to urban.
Launching alongside the exhibition is the digital catalogue of the works and biographical information on the artists included in the show.
When Images Speak: Highlights from the Dubai Collection will open on Saturday, November 6 at Etihad Museum.