Abu Dhabi: The Art Gallery at the New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) recently revealed names of key artists who will showcase their work at its Fall 2022 exhibition, “Khaleej Modern: Pioneers and Collectives in the Arabian Peninsula, 1941-2008”.
Curated by renowned art historian and curator, Dr. Aisha Stoby, Khaleej Modern is a landmark historical survey of 20th century modern art movements across the Arabian Peninsula, collectively known in Arabic as the “Khaleej”.
Earlier this year, Dr. Stoby had curated the Inaugural Oman Pavilion at the Venice Biennale
Currently scheduled to open on the 6th of September, the exhibition is based on Dr. Stoby’s PhD research tracing the region’s ‘pre-boom era’ of the 20th century through 2008 and examining the evolution of visual art movements as the discovery of oil began to transform the region.
It delves into the shifting understanding of public and private spaces and their relationship to national identity as expressed through art practices.
‘An exhibition like this is quite rare, a kind of opening salvo and call to action, offering new vistas on art history and art practice in this region. Rather than a definitive survey, this project sets us on a journey to explore the under-studied – and, for some people, unknown – emergence of modern art in the Arabian Peninsula over the last century. It is a profound honor that Dr. Stoby will present her original research with us, in this exhibition that was many years in the making. I thank her for partnering with us for this crucial, pathbreaking project.’ –Ms. Maya Allison, Executive Director of the NYUAD Art Gallery and University Chief Curator, remarked.
For the Exhibition, Dr. Stoby traces local art histories contextualized by deeply rooted traditions, the ongoing modernization process and evolving national identities. Foregrounding the importance of community and early art institutions, the exhibition brings to life the curator’s research on the artistic pioneers and collectives that sprang up in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, beginning with the first exhibition of Kuwait’s Al Mubarakiya School in 1941.
“Many of the works in this exhibition will be on view for the first time in decades, and it is a genuine privilege and honor to have been invited to bring this work to a wider audience. Enhanced by the presence of rare and archival material, Khaleej Modern creates a space and offers resources for learning and re-understanding our own histories,” Dr. Aisha Stoby elaborated.
The Curator of the Exhibition further added that, “More broadly, we hope the exhibition will contribute to wider regional and global understandings of modern visual art. This project responds to emerging debates around recentering art narratives, toward a more nuanced and inclusive appreciation of global art histories. It has been incredible to be a part of this project and to see the artworks of these pioneering artists brought together for the first time.”