Barjeel Kunststichting [Barjeel Art Foundation]


The Barjeel Art Foundation is an independent institute of the United Arab Emirates, and administers the private art collection of Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi. Its goal is to assemble artworks made by prominent artists from the Gulf region and the wider Arab world. In this way, the institute wishes to support the (intellectual) development of the region’s art scene and to offer an international platform for the Arabic patrimony.

After decolonization of the Maghreb and the nationalization of the Suez Canal by the United Arabic Republic (encompassing Egypt and Syria), there arose a generation of artists in the spirit of Arabic Modernism, wishing to catch the wave of progress and separate themselves from old traditions, particularly the theretofore dominant Western influence.

This period of optimism and newly found freedom, however, came to an abrupt end with the disillusion following the Arab defeat in the 1967 war against Israel. Maps were redrawn on the political stage, with times of social unrest to follow. Artists were forced to reorganize themselves to acquire social reforms and freedoms. This took place via critical debates and discussions concerning authenticity and modernism in Arab culture. The artists included by Narcisse Tordoir from the Barjeel Art Foundation for this exhibition belong to the second generation of these artists, from countries including Syria, Iraq and Morocco.

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