What was it like curating the biggest exhibition of Arab art happening right now? Why is “Kawkaba: Highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation” such a landmark exhibition? We sat down with the exhibition’s curator and deputy chair of Christie’s MENA, Dr Ridha Moumni, and the founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation to go behind the scenes of the curation process.
They share the logistical challenges of putting this exhibition together and share some of their favorite pieces on display including work by: Shakir Hassan Al Said, Ibrahim El Salahi, Mahmoud Sabri, Safia Farhat, Mohammed Ghani Hikmat, Mohammed Melehi, Nadia Saikali, Samia Halaby, Saloua Raouda Choucair, Fahrelniss Zeid, Huguette Caland, Samia Osseiran Jumblatt, Simone Fattal, Kadhim Hayder, Abdel Hadi El Gazzar, Marwan and Hassan Sharif.
“Kawkaba: Highlights from the Barjeel Art Foundation” at Christie’s London is an “immersive journey through the transformative epochs and powerful voices that shaped the modern Arab art landscape.” Drawing from the Barjeel Art Foundation’s rich collection, this gender-balanced exhibition showcases the region’s artistic heritage through the work of both well-known and emerging artists. The exhibition runs until 23rd August 2023.
Kawkaba is a gender-balanced exhibition that presents masterpieces of leading figures of the field, such as Huguette Caland, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Etel Adnan, Marwan, Safia Farhat, Jewad Selim, Inji Efflatoun, and Mohamed Melehi. It concurrently sheds light on underrepresented artists – based in the region, from the diaspora, or exiled -, who have highly contributed to modern Arab Art. Kawkaba is a window into the soul of the Arab world, an exploration of its complexities, and a tribute to its resilience and creativity. Through this exhibition, visitors are invited to traverse the artistic spirit of the Arab world and partake in its unrivalled transformative journey.
Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi is an Emirati columnist, researcher, scholar and founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation. He established the Barjeel Art Foundation in 2010 as a Sharjah-based organization dedicated to promoting North African and West Asian art.
Dr Ridha Moumni is an Art and Archaeology historian with a specialist focus on Antiquity and the early and modern art of Tunisia. He is the current Deputy Chair of Middle East and North Africa at Christie’s. Prior to taking up his position at Christie’s, Moumni was an Aga Khan Fellow at Harvard University’s Department of Art History.