Exhibition of Rare Works from Key GCC Institutions Chronicles Nearly a Century of Visual Art in the Arabian Peninsula

Installation view of Khaleej Modern: Pioneers and Collectives in the Arabian Peninsula. “The Conceptual Turn” section. Photo: John Varghese

57 artworks in this show were loaned from across the GCC, from early and mid-20th century through 2007

The NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) Art Gallery’s fall exhibition, Khaleej Modern: Pioneers and Collectives in the Arabian Peninsula, opens to the public tomorrow, September 6 at 6pm GST. Curated by Dr. Aisha Stoby, this landmark exhibition surveys the emergence of modern art in the Arabian Gulf, featuring 57 works loaned from across the region. Covering a period from the early 20th century to the turn of this century, the exhibition includes works from Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, a region collectively known in Arabic as the Khaleej. 

Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery and University Chief Curator, Maya Allison said: “The Barjeel Art Foundation loaned generously from their important collection, one that has made possible much recent study of modern Arab art. They are joined by dozens who have collaborated on this project, whether with loans of art, or sharing of historical resources. These include the collection of the Bahrain National Museum, the ADMAF Art Collection, the archives of Mathaf: Arab Museum for Modern Art, and The Sharjah Art Foundation collection, as well as important private collections and estate archives, such as that of Qasrwa Hafez, Hassan Meer and the Stal Gallery & Studio, and Tawfiq Ahmed Al-Jarrah.

Installation view of Khaleej Modern: Pioneers and Collectives in the Arabian Peninsula. “The Landscape” section. Photo: John Varghese

“I can’t overstate the importance of this kind of archiving and collecting in service of making visible what were previously little-known art histories. Those who allow for access to their archives and collections, as they have for this exhibition, make possible the scholarship now being written about this art – shaping the map of art history."

Executive Director of The NYUAD Art Gallery and University Chief Curator Maya Allison

Assistant Curator on the exhibition Tala Nassar from The NYUAD Art Gallery commented: “This exhibition marks an important milestone for The Art Gallery. This is our first time presenting historical works loaned from so many important collections across the GCC; it has been such an honor to work with these collections and archives, and we're very grateful for their support.”

On view until December 11, Khaleej Modern is based on Dr. Stoby’s PhD research tracing the evolution of visual art movements as the discovery of oil began to transform Gulf nations. Along with these changes to the infrastructural and political landscape, public and private spaces mirrored this growth in their relationship to national identity. These shifts are particularly pronounced in certain art movements from this period. 

Dr. Stoby notes: “This exhibition and the research that preceded this project begins a collaborative process towards further mapping these regional art movements. It is my sincere hope that this exhibition will serve as an invitation for art enthusiasts and fellow researchers to take part in conversations to provide future scholarship towards our global art histories. It has been a privilege to be part of this important project and I am very grateful to all the artists and their families who worked alongside us, as well as my esteemed colleagues, fellow researchers, and the dedicated team at The NYUAD Art Gallery for making this exhibition possible.”  

Khaleej Modern reflects The Art Gallery’s values and its mission to present exhibitions that are internationally significant, and contribute to wider global understandings of visual art, as well as resonating strongly with regional audiences,” Allison added.

Artists include Abdul Karim Al Bosta, Abdul Karim Al-Orrayed, Abdul Qader Al Rais, Abdulhalim Radwi, Abdullah Al Qassar, Abdullah Al Saadi, Abdullah Al Shaikh, Abdulrahman Alsoliman, Ahmed Qassim Al Sunni, Ali Mohamed Al Mahmeed, Anwar Sonya, Budoor Al Riyami, Ebtisam Abdulaziz, Hassan Meer, Hassan Sharif, Hussain Qassim Al Sunni, Ibrahim Ismail, Issa Saqer Al Khalaf, Khalid Albudoor, Khalifa Qattan, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Mohammed Ahmed Rasim, Mohammed Al Saleem, Mohammed Kazem, Mojib Al Dosari, Moosa Omar, Mounirah Mosly, Munira Al Kazi, Najat Makki, Nasser Al-Yousif, Nujoom Alghanem, Rashid Abdul Rahman Al Balushi, Rashid Al Oraifi, Safeya Binzagr, Sami Mohammed, Thuraya Al-Baqsami, Yousef Ahmad, and Yousef Khalil.

This exhibition would have not been possible without the support of key institutions, private collectors, archives, and other contributors. Some of these include but are not limited to: Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (UAE), Bahrain National Museum (Bahrain), Barjeel Art Foundation (Sharjah), Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde (UAE), Lawrie Shabibi (UAE), Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art (Qatar), Sharjah Art Foundation (UAE), Stal Gallery & Studio (Oman), and The Sultan Gallery (Kuwait).

Exhibition Title: Khaleej Modern: Pioneers and Collectives in the Arabian Peninsula
Exhibition Dates: September 6–December 11, 2022
Admission: Free
Exhibition page