As the sun breaks thorugh the clouds over the Tigris river in Iraq, its light falls upon the tree-lined shore and the rest of the image is balanced by the sailing boat, seemingly heading towards the viewer. This is the exquisite scene depicted by Abdul Qader Al Rassam in his View Of The Tigris painting from 1920 that is part of Sharjah’s Barjeel Art Foundation’s permanent collection and is one of the key works in an exhibition that recently opened in Amman.
Lines of Subjectivity: Portrait and Landscape Paintings 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.
It was opened at the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts on March 9 at a ceremony attended by the UAE Ambassador to Jordan Bilal Rabie Al Budoor and 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 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.
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 in Amman.
* Lines of Subjectivity: Portrait and Landscape Paintings runs until May 31. www.barjeelartfoundation.org