Emirates Fine Arts Society Exhibition, 1981.

Emirates Fine Arts Society Exhibition, 1981.
Image courtesy of the Emirates Fine Arts Society



Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) is pleased to announce the opening of 1980-Today: Exhibitions in the United Arab Emirates on Saturday, 13 February 2016 at The Flying Saucer, Sharjah.

Presented last year in Venice by the National Pavilion UAE la Biennale di Venezia at the 56th International Art Exhibition, the exhibition was internationally acclaimed. The Biennale, which ran from May 9 – November 22, 2015 welcomed over 500,000 visitors.

Curated by Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, 1980-Today: Exhibitions in the United Arab Emirates looks at the history of exhibition making in the United Arab Emirates over the last 40 years. The emergence of art practices in the UAE is presented here through a selection of over 100 works by fifteen Emirati artists, including Ahmed Al Ansari, Moosa Al Halyan, Mohammed Al Qassab, Abdul Qader Al Rais, Abdullah Al Saadi, Mohammed Abdullah Bulhiah, Salem Jawhar, Mohammed Kazem, Dr Najat Meky, Abdulraheem Salim, Ahmed Sharif, Hassan Sharif, Obaid Suroor, Dr Mohamed Yousif and Abdulrahman Zainal.

1980-Today: Exhibitions in the United Arab Emirates is built upon extensive research involving archives of newspaper articles, artists' writings, and catalogues, as well as interviews with artists and cultural practitioners. Reflecting personal and geopolitical trajectories, the research focused on the underexposed historical record and evolving practices of some of the UAE's most important modernist and contemporary artists.The Emirates Fine Arts Society, a non-profit association that was formed in 1980 in Sharjah, has served as a main point of focus and inspiration for research.

Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi has structured the exhibition to follow the aesthetic experience and encourage connections between works. In addition to thematic groupings, some works are arranged by artist to highlight elements of an individual’s practice, while others are paired to create complimenting and contrasting dialogues between works. Rather than following a didactic chronology, the exhibition creates the sense of wandering through dense collections in conversation with one another. The works, many on loan from institutions and private collections as well as from the artists themselves, demonstrate a juxtaposition of conceptual and formal approaches, time periods, and media.The selection of pieces focussed on sharing fundamental stages of the artists' careers as well as that of the UAE art scene collectively: Najat Meky and Abdulraheem Salim have primarily worked on paper or canvas since 1990s, however their earlier practice focused on sculpture and reliefs; Mohamed Yousif has in recent years been working with found objects and elements from his natural surroundings, while his older work included traditional wooden sculptures; and while Abdul Qader Al Rais is best known today for his landscapes and abstract paintings, he exhibits a series of figurative paintings, some dating back to 1968. Works by Hassan Sharif from 1985 incorporating zinc and boiled linseed oil on canvas will be paired with Notebooks, a series he has been working on since the early 1980s.

In Sharjah, 1980-Today: Exhibitions in the United Arab Emirates will be presented at The Flying Saucer, an iconic building constructed in 1975 and located in Dasman area. Immediately recognisable because of its unique shape, The Flying Saucer has been home to various retail and food chains and has become a landmark in UAE popular culture. Now one of Sharjah Art Foundation’s venues, The Flying Saucer opened as an exhibition space during Sharjah Biennial 12.

SAF is currently working on a research project entitled “The Flying Saucer Memorabilia” that looks at the urban history of The Flying Saucer. The Flying Saucer Memorabilia invites people from the UAE and beyond to submit visual, literary and audio material for possible inclusion into the project. With these contributions from the public, SAF hopes to create a substantial archive of the building's history in Sharjah's shifting urban landscape. SAF has sourced some photographs, newspaper ads and articles of The Flying Saucer, of which some will be displayed in the building during the exhibition 1980-Today: Exhibitions in the United Arab Emirates. For more information on how to participate and submit your contributions, please visit sharjahart.org or contact submit@sharjahart.org / +9716 568 50 50

About Sharjah Art Foundation
Since 2009 SAF has built on the history of cultural collaboration and exchange that began with the first Sharjah Biennial in 1993. Working with local and international partners, Sharjah Art Foundation creates opportunities for artists and artistic production through core initiatives that include Sharjah Biennial, the annual March Meeting, residencies, production grants, commissions, exhibitions, research, publications and a growing collection. Our education and public programmers focus on building recognition of the central role art can play in the life of a community by promoting public learning and a participatory approach to art. All our events are free and open to the public. Sharjah Art Foundation is funded by the Government of Sharjah.

About National Pavilion United Arab Emirates la Biennale di Venezia
The National Pavilion UAE was established to endorse the UAE’s contemporary art practices on an international platform and provide a foundation to support the nation’s diverse and developing cultural scene, through participation in the various offerings of la Biennale di Venezia. The UAE’s participation at la Biennale di Venezia commenced in 2009 with a national pavilion at the 53rd International Art Exhibition, and has continued in subsequent editions of the art exhibition. 2014 marked the UAE’s first participation at the International Architecture Exhibition. The office also organizes the Venice Internship, offering a range of opportunities to young residents of the UAE keen to engage with culture and arts at the highest international level through a one month internship on site in Venice acting as custodians and docents of the National Pavilion. The interns oversee the exhibition and participate in a rigorous educational program.

The National Pavilion UAE la Biennale di Venezia is commissioned by the Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, and supported by the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development.

About The Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation
The Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation’s mission is “to invest in the future of the United Arab Emirates by investing in its people.” Founded by Her Highness Sheikha Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan in 2010, the Foundation is committed to developing and supporting prolific and meaningful initiatives in the areas of education; arts, culture, heritage; and health.

Sharjah Art Foundation
Alyazeyah Al Reyaysa
Public & Media Relations Officer
Tel: +971-6-544-4113, ext. 25
E: alyazeyah@sharjahart.org

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