Qatar Museum’s Spring Exhibition Programme

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Artwork from M.F. Husain Exhibition

Qatar Museums announced an expansive spring exhibition programme, drawing on collaborations organised as part of the Years of Culture initiative, as well as its own institutions. Three major exhibitions will open in March, adding to an already exciting calendar with the upcoming opening of the National Museum of Qatar on March 28, 2019.

Mathaf: The Arab Museum of Modern Art is presenting two world-class shows in Doha for the first time. The first show, M. F. Husain: Horses of the Sun is a major exhibition dedicated to the work of M. F. Husain (1913-2011) — legendary contributor to modern Indian culture and the history of art in the 20th century.

Still More World, an exhibition by Delhi-based Raqs Media Collective, will present thirteen multi-object and video installations, two of which were created especially for the show in Doha. The exhibition will be displayed across three ground floor galleries at Mathaf, as well as interventions on the grounds of the museum and the city of Doha. The show has been organized as part of Qatar Museums’ Qatar India 2019 Year of Culture.

The exhibitions will run from 21 March to 31 July 2019.

Artwork from the Malevich collection
Artwork from Raqs Media Collective Collection
Artwork from M.F. Husain Exhibition

M. F. Husain: Horses of the Sun, curated by the acclaimed Mumbai-based curator, poet, art critic, and cultural theorist, Ranjit Hoskote, will feature more than 100 works by M. F. Husain including paintings, drawings, textile works, and films, drawn from mainly from Qatar Foundation and Qatar Museums collections, as well as from private collections both in the Gulf region and elsewhere in the world.

M. F. Husain was a foundational figure in the history of Indian modernism, as a member of the vanguard formation known as the Progressive Artists Group. Every aspect of his life assumed mythic proportions, beginning with his birthdate. Long assumed to have been born in 1915, he was in fact born two years earlier. When he died at 98, his life had already traced an arc through one of the most cataclysmic yet most exhilarating centuries in human history. He lived through two World Wars, the Cold War, Algeria and Vietnam, South Asia’s conflicts and the West Asian wars, all of which inspired his works. His chosen media ranged from oil painting and watercolour, through lithography and serigraphy, to sculpture, architecture, and installation. He was also a film-maker, poet and memoirist, writing in Urdu, Hindi and English.

Born in the Hindu pilgrimage centre of Pandharpur, raised in Indore and Sidhpur, Husain made Bombay his home yet called himself a global nomad. He developed strong connections with the UK, the USA, Czechoslovakia, the UAE, and Qatar, which offered him refuge when adverse political circumstances forced him into exile from his beloved India.

Ranjit Hoskote, curator of the exhibition, said: “Three themes lie at the heart of Husain’s oeuvre. First: the idea of home, as a habitat remembered from childhood, shaped in the present, or to be discovered through exploration. Second: the human adventure of creativity across societies, periods, and disciplines. And third: a pluralist approach to the divine and cosmic aspects of being, articulated through the symbolism of the world’s religions and philosophies. In M. F. Husain: Horses of the Sun – the title of the exhibition a reference to his recurrent motif and personal symbol of self-renewing vitality – we bear witness to this magisterial artist’s work across more than six decades.”

Still More World, curated by Mathaf Curator Laura Barlow, draws on the energy of Doha’s urban landscape of light, which symbolises a global city in continuous movement, its networks of people, and raw materials. The works in this exhibition re-examine human evolution and natural resources, considering historical and contemporary movements of people and the way terrains change. Thirteen installations ranging from videos, to textiles and sculptures made between 2011 and 2019 are presented in three galleries at Mathaf and across the city of Doha including two new productions, Dohas for Doha and To People, developed especially for the exhibition. The show will present Provisions for Everybody (2018), a fifty minute video and Seven Billion and One (2015) along with other works that explore the connections between living organisms, the natural world, geological time and the cosmos.

The exhibition will be presented across a number of locations outside of Mathaf, including Doha’s iconic West Bay where one of the five phrases from the new production Dohas for Doha (2019) will be presented.

“Raqs Media Collective are leading contemporary artists working at an international level, whose work challenges understandings of the world in playful and poetic ways. We are delighted to present this solo exhibition of their work that includes two exciting new commissions that speak to the context of Doha beyond the museum. We are eager for visitors to experience the exhibition and hear their feedback,” said Mathaf’s Curator Laura Barlow.

Raqs Media Collective was founded in 1992 by Jeebesh Bagchi, Monica Narula and Shuddhabrata Sengupta. Unravelling structures of economies, time, and language, their work examines the shifting state of contemporary life and boundaries of visibility. Their practice spans the making of multi-medium installations, films, events and publications, in addition to collaborations across architecture, literature, science, and theatre, broadening understanding of the world around us.

Their work has been exhibited at Documenta, and the Venice, Sao Paulo, Manifesta, Istanbul, Shanghai, Sydney and Taipei Biennales. Recent major solo exhibitions include Everything Else is Ordinary, K21 Ständehaus, Düsseldorf in 2018; Twilight Language, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester in 2017; , and With an Untimely Calendar,National Gallery of Modern Art, New Delhi, in 2014-2015.

Separately, the Fire Station Garage Gallery will host an exhibition titled Kazimir Malevich: Genius of the Russian Avant-Garde from March 24 to May 31 2019. Malevich was one of the most outstanding innovators of the 20th century whose movement Suprematism continues to inspire artists and architects worldwide even to this day. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Evgenia Petrova, Deputy Director of the State Russian Museum.

Although a seminal figure in art history, this comprehensive display of Malevich from the collection of the State Russian Museum is a first for the Arab world. The exhibition will track the artist’s evolution – from the earliest period of a realistic and symbolist nature through to his later work created one year before his passing. Several of his most famous paintings, including ‘Red Square’, and costumes from his opera ‘Victory Over the Sun’ will be on view. The exhibition was first envisioned as part of the Qatar Russia Year of Culture 2018 and will be an opportunity for local audiences to continue exploring the richness of Russian art.

Finally, the Museum of Islamic Art’s (MIA) major 10-year anniversary exhibition, Syria Matters, will remain open through April 30, 2019. Syria Matters takes as its subject the extraordinary cultural heritage of Syria, illuminating Syria’s key role in the artistic and intellectual history of the world. This exhibition brings to life the multifaceted layers of Syria’s architectural and cultural history going as far back as the country’s early pre-Islamic past and explores its many contributions to world history.

The exhibition, co-curated by MIA Director Dr. Julia Gonnella and Rania Abdellatif, drew on MIA’s own spectacular collection, shown alongside loans from other world-renowned international museums, including the Louvre in Paris, the Museum of Ancient Near Eastern Art in Berlin, the Berlin State Library, other significant Qatar Museums (QM) collections such as the Orientalist Collection, as well as the Qatar National Library and Sheikh Faisal Bin Qassim Museum.