For art lovers, the Sharjah Art Foundation (SAF) has rolled out a rich calendar of several path-breaking shows, performances, film screenings, and retrospectives of veteran artists as part of its Spring Program.
Underway at SAF’s art venues in Al Mureijah Square and Bait Al Serkal are a wide-ranging slate of solo exhibitions by pioneering contemporary artists from the MEASA region -- Abu Hamdan, Khalil Rabah, and CAMP, opened on March 4, followed by a retrospective of works by Gerald Annan-Forson, organized in collaboration with The Africa Institute, which opened on March 7.
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Also on view from February 26, is the region's first retrospective exhibition of the late Lebanese painter and sculptor Aref El Rayess (1928 – 2005), organized in collaboration with Sharjah Museums Authority and presented at the Sharjah Art Museum, and closing on August 7, 2022.
The 2022 edition of the Foundation’s annual March Meeting was held online and in-person from March 5 to march 7 March, engaged with the overarching theoretical framework of next year’s Biennial Sharjah Biennial 15: ‘Thinking Historically in the Present,’ opening in February 2023.
As Sharjah Art Foundation Director Hoor Al Qasimi writes in the foreword to the program, since it was launched in 2008 the March Meeting “draws together art practitioners, curators, academics, theorists, writers, historians, and activists in an increasingly trans-national and interdisciplinary setting that bridges the local and the global, enabling critical engagement with the social, cultural and political realities of our time, as well as the historical moments that have brought us here.”
Under the banner of ‘The Afterlives of the Postcolonial,’ the March Meeting 2022 examined the legacies of colonialism and the contemporary impacts of related issues on cultural, aesthetic and artistic practices around the world.
Aref El Rayess
This major retrospective presents a largely unknown body of work created by the prolific Aref El Rayess . The exhibition includes a wide range of paintings, drawings, works on paper, sculptures, and tapestries that together reveal the rich and complex artistic practice of this important Arab modernist.
Organized by the Sharjah Art Foundation and Sharjah Museums Authority with the support of the Aref El Rayess Foundation and Sfeir-Semler Gallery, Beirut/Hamburg.
Lawrence Abu Hamdan
In his largest solo exhibition of new works to date, award-winning artist Lawrence Abu Hamdan brings together a selection of new multisensory commissions and recent works that probe the question: Can the frequencies, simulations and stimulations of sound reveal narratives concealed from history?
Tracing the contours of immaterial forms of colonisation, Abu Hamdan has created a distinctive practice of visual expression.
In ‘The Sonic Image,’ he presents various studies of splintered aural leaks — mapping out an aesthetic atlas for how we see sound. Through detailed examination and experimentation, Abu Hamdan moves towards a new form of image-making — a picture that fluctuates between the ear and the eye, and behaves akin to sound itself.
‘The Sonic Image’ features three major new bodies of work; a large-scale installation commissioned by SAF, as well as a new site-specific performance.
Together, this constellation of artworks investigates the boundaries between voice and speech; translation and testimony; representation and reincarnation; and explore the power of sound and image to operate as mutual progenitors, of and in, public testimony.
‘The Sonic Image’ is curated by Omar Kholeif, the Foundation’s Director of Collections and Senior Curator, and is being held at Sharjah Art Foundation’s – Gallery 4, 5 and 6, Al Mureijah Square.
‘Khalil Rabah: What is not’ is an exhibition of significant works by Khalil Rabah, created from the 1990s to the present, that propose speculative frameworks and platforms for exploring how cultural institutions, curatorial practice, museological discourse and critical knowledge operate under long-standing states of emergency and displacement.
The exhibition presents an overview of the artist’s ongoing projects, including the Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind, the Riwaq Biennale and Collaborations: by in form, alongside his Scale models.
Focusing on the processes that art practices are subjected to within international institutions, his projects encourage debates about cultural organizations by questioning the social, cultural, and political value attributed to artefacts.
Emerging from his deep involvement and background in architecture, Rabah’s works seek to provide an alternative vision that challenges public perceptions. He draws on different methodologies to engage with themes of displacement, memory and identity to examine the relationship between humans and their surroundings as well as the nature of the global human condition.
‘Khalil Rabah: What is not’ is curated by Sharjah Art Foundation Director Hoor Al Qasimi and is being held at Sharjah Art Foundation’s – Gallery 1, 2 and 3, Al Mureijah Square
‘Passages through Passages’ brings together a body of key works by CAMP, the Mumbai-based artist studio founded in 2007 by Shaina Anand and Ashok Sukumaran.
Presenting a cross-section of works created between 2006 and 2020, these projects encompass video and audio works, archives —including works featured in previous Sharjah Biennials, interventions and collections, and draw upon the collective’s unique artistic and research methods.
Through them, CAMP discuss topics such as anxieties and inoculations about public health under surveillance, the ‘longue-durée’ of technological methods and advancements, and ideas of movement as transport or of finding unexpected ways forward.
The exhibition is curated by Sharjah Art Foundation Director Hoor Al Qasimi and is being held at Sharjah Art Foundation’s – – Bait Al Serkal, Arts Square.
Retrospective of Ghanaian photographer Annan-Forson
In collaboration with The Africa Institute, SAF presents the first retrospective of the work of Ghanaian photographer Gerald Annan-Forson at Al Hamriyah Studios, which opened on March 7 and will close on July 7, 2022.
Featuring photographs primarily taken by Annan-Forson between 1979 and 1985, Revolution and Image-making in Postcolonial Ghana traces the political and social life of Ghana during a period of revolution and transformation, offering a visual story of postcolonial Ghana and its struggles and aspirations in the post-independence period. Annan-Forson’s style of composition, lens focus, formal repetitions, character representation, and long-term commitment to documenting the changing landscape of Accra, Ghana, has reshaped the understanding of photography as a tool of radical image-making.
The exhibition is curated by artist and ethnographer Jesse Weaver Shipley, Professor of African and African American Studies and Oratory, Dartmouth College, USA.
The solo exhibition of artists from the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region will run till July 4 enabling the art loving public easy access and ample time to catch up and acquaint themselves with the well-conceived, and wonderfully creative displays.
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