When art transcends politics: Iran hosts Arab art exhibition

When art transcends politics: Iran hosts Arab art exhibition
A collection of Arab modern art has gone on display in Tehran - a show of the enduring cultural ties of a region plagued with constant political and religious clashes.
2 min read
18 November, 2016
The Middle East's cultural bonds will be 'on show' in Tehran [Getty]
In a year marked by clashes over religion, politics and opposing allegiances in the Middle East, the region's enduring cultural bond has never been more sacred.

Demonstrating the power of art transcending politics, Iran is hosting its first exhibition of modern Arab art.

Curated by United Arab Emirates-based Barjeel Art Foundation, 40 Arab artists will be celebrated at the Tehran 
Museum of Contemporary Art.

Barjeel, which means wind tower in Arabic, was established by Sultan Sooud al-Qassemi, an Emirati art patron and collector.

Barjeel has lent its works to major world museums such as the Aga Khan Museum in Canada, the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris and the New Museum in New York.

"What we were really aiming for was more of a cultural dialogue, to open up a conversation about art and the artists," said Karim Sultan, who curated the show in collaboration with the museum and the Tehran-based Mohsen gallery.

He told the Guardian: "I'd say the exhibition would have had to take place regardless of the political situation because of the importance of art.

"Whatever the situation is, art has a way of moving over the situation.

"And a lot of people engage in a different kind of conversation, perhaps in a positive way."

The director of the museum added: "Arab literature and poetry are quite known in the country but Arab visual art is less familiar, and this exhibit provides the chance to introduce the art of the region."

Among the works on display are Iraqi artist Kadhim Hayder's Fatigued Ten Horses Converse With Nothing (The Martyr's Epic); the Saudi artist Mounirah Mosly's The Land of Solidities; and the UAE artist Hassan Sharif's Man.

Other artists represented include Bahrain's Abdullah Muharraqi, Palestine's Asim Abu Shakra, Iraq's Raffa Nasiri and Egypt's Seif Wanly.

The Sea Suspended runs at Tehran's TMoCA until December 23.

Barjeel Art Foundation has also announced an upcoming exhibition - Hurufiyya: Art & Identity - to be held at Alexandria Library in Egypt, opening November 30.

Over the past year, nearly one hundred works by more than sixty Arab artists from the Barjeel Foundation were displayed at London's prestigious Whitechapel Gallery.

The exhibition was curated by Mr. Omar Kholeif.