First exhibition of Arab modern art to take place in Iran

Samir Rafi (Egyptian), Untitled, 1991, oil on board; Hamed Ewais (Egyptian), Le Gardien de la Vie, 1967-1968, oil on canvas; Hatim Elmekki (Tunisian), La Famille, c.1950s, oil on canvas. Courtesy Barjeel Art Foundation.

Barjeel Art Foundation will present and curate an exhibition of Arab modern art at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMoCA) from 8 November – 23 December 2016.

Titled “The Sea Suspended: Arab Modernism from the Barjeel Collection”, this historic exhibition will mark the first time a show of Arab art from the modern period will take place in Iran. The exhibition will feature works by modern masters drawn exclusively from the Barjeel Art Foundation collection, and will represent a fifty-year period of works from the 1940s to the 1990s from around the Arab world, including Egypt, Iraq, North Africa, the Levant, and the Arabian Peninsula.

Majid Mollanorouzi, Director of Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art (TMoCA), says: “Art is important in that it allows experiences to be shared, even across the boundaries of language or culture. This is even more significant when we work together with organisations from the region, such as the Barjeel Art Foundation. Hosting this diverse collection of Arab art and exhibiting it to the Iranian public will allow us to share the region’s modern heritage. It also allows for a unique dialogue between two institutions that hold a common passion for bringing art to the public, which we hope will continue.”


Karim Sultan, Curator of the Barjeel Art Foundation, explains that the selection of works by theme and region demonstrates the multiple approaches to artmaking.

He says: “Modernity did not begin at one point and end in another in history – instead, it begins and ends in different places, overlapping and emerging from different scenarios, pressures, and conflicts, and different sets of influences. What we hope to present is a small but diverse selection of works across a number of themes that are important to artists in the 20th century.”


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