Qatar Museums is ramping up its public art initiative in the lead-up to the Fifa World Cup 2022.
More than 40 artworks will be put up across public spaces in Doha in the next few months. This is part of a programme to turn the Qatari capital into an open-air museum. Many of the new works are by heavyweights from the artworld including Yayoi Kusama, Simone Fattal, Jeff Koons and Kaws.
Once installed, Doha will be home to more than 100 public pieces.
Japanese artist Kusama will be presenting several temporary works in the area outside the Museum of Islamic Art. These include My Soul Blooms Forever, a monumental collection of vibrant stainless steel flowers, as well as her polka-dot sculpture Dancing Pumpkin.
Koons, who is famous for his balloon animal sculptures, has created a colossal stainless steel sculpture of a dugong. The work, which is 21 metres tall and 31 metres wide, pays homage to the endangered animal, which can be found in Qatar’s waters. The sculpture by the US artist will be placed at Al Masrah Park.
Iraqi sculptor Ahmed Al Bahrani will also present work in tribute to the vulnerable marine animal with his Dugong Family installation.
US artist Kaws has created a site-specific work that will be displayed at the Dadu Garden, which is scheduled to open this year. The artwork, titled The Promise, features the companion figures the artist is renowned for. Qatar also has one of Kaws’s largest Small Lie sculptures as a centerpiece of Hamad International Airport.
Lebanese artist Fattal will be presenting three conical sculptures of blue granite with Maqam I, Maqam II, Maqam III. The works, which are named after the modes used in traditional Arabic music, allude to the shape of dunes.
A giant blue cockerel sculpture titled Hahn by German artist Katharina Fritsch will be displayed at the Sheraton Grand Doha Resort and Convention Hotel
“The addition of 40 new works of public art is a milestone,” said Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, president of the Qatar Museum. “Public art is one of our most significant forms of cultural exchange, where we present the works of artists of all nationalities and origins.”
When the works are installed, Doha will have one of the most sprawling public art programmes in the region. The Qatari capital, however, already has dozens of impressive works decorating its cityscape. Here are five to know:
'The Miraculous Journey'
This series of 14 bronze sculptures by English artist Damien Hirst trace the development of a fetus all the way to birth. The works, which culminate with a 14-metre-tall figure of a baby boy, are lined in front of Sidra Medical Centre, a hospital for women and children.
“Everyone talks about life’s journey, but we have a whole journey before we’re born,” Hirst has said about the work.
Qatari artist Shua’a Ali's Milestones features the artist’s idiosyncratic stacked rock and stone formations, but in a more colossal scale and with the addition of cinderblocks and ropes.
The work, which reflects upon Ali’s blending of European post-war expressionism with references to local heritage, is located on Grand Hamad Street.
US artist Richard Serra’s 7 looms 24 meters above MIA Park and is made up of seven plates organised in seven sides. The arrangement and the title of the work alludes to the spiritual significance of the number in Islamic culture.
The work’s design reflects upon the Ghazni minaret in Afghanistan. It was constructed over a period of three years and took one million man hours.
'Gates to the Sea'
Fattal’s Gates to the Sea alludes to the rock carvings found in archaeological sites across Qatar.
The petroglyphs depict boats and fish scales and are symbolic of the nation’s inextricable relationship with the sea.
The sculpture’s location near the entrance to the National Museum of Qatar conveys a connection between the present and the past.
Another work reflecting on Qatar’s connection to the sea is The Ship by Qatari artist Faraj Daham. Made of wood and concrete, and standing 10 meters high, the sculpture is a restrained representation of the traditional shipping boat.
Etching on the concrete plinth it stands on features abstract depictions of fishing nets.
The sculpture is installed on the grounds of Al Janoub Stadium.