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Unique pieces on display at Start Doha art fair

2017-03-20

Raynald C Rivera | The Peninsula

The raw concrete walls of W Doha Hotel & Residences' vast 29th floor exude an industrial vibe which complements the diversity of unique pieces on display at the first ever 'Start Doha' contemporary art fair which opened here yesterday.

Running in parallel with the third annual The New York times 'Art for Tomorrow' conference, the exhibition provides platform to more than 20 artists from various international galleries and artists based in Qatar, some of whom have taken part in the 'Artists in Residence' programme at the Fire Station.

The art fair benefits from the successes of Start London, now on its fourth year, and from the expertise of Saatchi Gallery CEO Nigel Hurst and leading artist Mahmoud Obaidi, who curated the 'Qatar for Tomorrow' segment, one of the features of the show.

"For the 'Qatar for Tomorrow' section, we chose eight locally based Qatari and non-Qatari artists based on the type of contemporary artworks they have done and their experience," Obaidi told The Peninsula.

Playing an important role in promoting artists from the region, Obaidi previously featured some of these artists at Start London exhibition held at Saatchi Gallery.

The works on display in the Qatar section are mainly rooted on the challenges to identity rapid urbanisation and globalisation in the Middle East have brought.

Among the works on display are Hana Al Saadi's 'Endless Game' installation, Nazar Yahya's Self-Portrait in multi- coloured 48-layer plexi glass, Othman Khunji's Religious Vanity installation and Obaidi's No Fly Zone, which was part of his last solo show Fragments recently held at Qatar Museums Gallery in Katara.

With the emergence of new art spaces and organising exhibitions of international calibre, Obaidi envisions a vibrant art scene in the country.

"The local scene is really growing especially with the presence of museums and new art venues like the Fire Station and with the many shows that are being organised like Dia Azzawi, Picasso-Giacometti and JR. After all, it is getting recognised internationally. For a small city like Doha, it's amasing," he observed.

A number of works in a range of styles and media, by celebrated Qatari artist Ali Hassan, are among those showcased at the section on Anima Gallery, an art space located in The Pearl Qatar.

Faig Ahmed's Singularity, a handmade woolen carpet-which seems melted resulting in the distortion of traditional pattern in a spectacular way-is a crowd-drawer at Montoro12 Contemporary Art gallery section.

Saudi-based Hafez Gallery, on the other hand, features stunning works by artists Osame Esid, Ibrahim ElDessouki and Adel Quraishi, among others.

"There is no present. We only exist between the future and the past" mixed media series are among the highlights of multidisciplinary artist Owais Hussain's collection on show.

After hosting the successful 'Art Lab' at last year's Art for Tomorrow Conference at the same exhibition space and with the turnout at the Start Doha's opening, Safak Guvenc, area manager Qatar and Oman, Starwood Hotels & Resort and General Manager of W Doha, is positive of the success of the future of the exhibition.

"I think the exhibition has evolved; there are more local and international artists that are exhibiting their works this year which is generating a lot of interest with the huge turnout tonight and we are very excited about it," Guvenc told The Peninsula.

"We support upcoming artists locally and internationally and our partnership with The New York Times has been continuous. We appreciate the support of the community for the success of this great event," he added.

The exhibition coincides with the three-day The New York Times third 'Art for Tomorrow Conference' with the theme "Boundaries, Identity and Public Realm" and with the participation of more than 300 art and culture luminaries from 35 countries.

Start Doha has been lauded for providing a platform for artists to build regional and international reputation. It is open to the public until Tuesday, from 9am to 9pm at the Level 29 of the W Doha Hotel & Residences.