Qatar’s capital city Doha has an arty side that can be seen in its museums and exhibition spaces that give you an insight into this lesser known aspect of the city.
Think Doha and the first thing that comes into mind is its high rise buildings that magically morph into colourful twinkling light displays in the night. Mind you, each building is lit differently and in a different colour. Likewise the architecture of Qatar National museum is inspired from the natural convolutions of the desert rose. The Desert Rose is 100 percent natural sand stone made of gypsum, sand and salt and is found under the ground in the Sahara Desert. Its beauty lies on its multiple natural petals that reflect the light and grow in different directions making each desert rose a unique piece. The point really is that art is everywhere in the city and make sure you stop at these locations for an art fix.
Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art
With a collection of contemporary and modern art on display, Mathaf has galleries that have permanent art installations including paintings and sculptures as well as spaces that organize temporary exhibitions. In fact the grey and beige larger than life installations in the outside of the museum are a perfect precursor to what you see inside. One of the galleries has Shirin Neshat’s ‘Our House Is On Fire’ collection that includes large photograph based portraits that tell the stories of those who lost their families in the Egyptian revolution of 2011. Works by artists like Mahmoud Mokhtar, Hafidh Droubi, Jawad Selim, Chaibia, Inji Efflatoun, Paul Guiragossian, Faiq Hassan, Issa Saqer, Seif Wanly, Abdullah al-Muharraqi, and Hamed Owais are on display here. A free guided tour is the best way to appreciate the nuances of this space.
Souq Waqif Art Center
Amidst the hustle and bustle of Doha’s main market Souq Waqif the Art Center that has a series of spaces that hosts several contemporary artists who also sell their work on the premises. The best part is that you can interact with the artists directly and see them at work. The smaller galleries located on either side of the ground floor showcases a lot of regional artists and their work. The first floor has art education courses where one can learn about drawing, ceramics, calligraphy and painting. Fine art workshops have also been held at the venue that is like an artist residence space. This is where regular art related events are conducted and you are bound to get good art at reasonable prices as you can directly interact with the artist.
Museum of Islamic Art
Located on the beautiful Doha waterfront, the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) is a space that spells all things art. The five storied building has a distinct Islamic architecture and the stunning central atrium is as magnificent as it is breath taking. This is where you can see the fine nuances of Islamic art that has retained a unique visual language through centuries and the origin of Islamic art began with the desire to establish a distinctive identity. One of the galleries here highlights the Qatar collection of art and you can also see examples of how calligraphy has shaped some of the fundamental elements of Islamic art here.
A cultural village in Doha, Katara welcomes you with beautiful wall art even as you enter the space. A global culture center, this is also a space for art and artists alike and the exhibition galleries here display several art exhibitions through the year. The Katara Art Center (KAC) here was founded in 2012 by Tariq Al Jaidah and is an independent platform that showcases contemporary art and transdisciplinary creative projects. The space is designed to have pop up shops of different artists over a period of time and supports artists and designers with a platform to showcase their work.
- Al Markhiya Gallery
- Anima Gallery
- Qatar National Convention Centre
- National Museum of Qatar
- The Virginia Commonwealth University
- East Wing gallery
This story first appeared in Sakal Times dated 23 Jan, 2019 here: