Christie’s auction house has curated a remarkable collection of over 150 works of art, making it the largest exhibition of Arab art ever held in London.
Titled “Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World,” the show is divided into two sections and features items from across the region, spanning 80 years and various mediums.
The non-selling “Kawkaba: Highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation” is a gender-balanced collection featuring some 100 pieces. “Emirati Art Reimagined: Hassan Sharif and the Contemporary Voices” centers around the pioneering artist and includes items on loan and for sale.
Both sections offer paintings, sculptures and installations from celebrated and lesser-known names.
“This is special because we try to reflect on the collecting practice of Barjeel Art Foundation, 50 percent are male, 50 percent are female, from different geographies in the Arab world,” Ridha Moumni, the exhibition’s curator and Christie’s Middle East and North Africa deputy chairman, said on the show’s opening day.
Key pieces of “Kawkaba” include Syrian painter Marwan’s “Head” from the mid-1970s, Lebanese artist Samia Osseiran Joumblatt’s “Formative Radiation,” painted in the late 1960s, and Egyptian painter and activist Inji Efflatoun’s “Dreams of the Detainee” from 1961.
The Emirati section is woven around Sharif’s multi-disciplinary body of work and also introduces younger talent.
The aim of the double billing is to wow and to educate, Moumni said.
“It’s usually the quiet season for us because we don’t have sales, so we decided to organize this exhibition to bring people to discover Arab art and culture,” he said.
The exhibition, with free entry, runs through Aug. 23 at Christie’s London headquarters.