Photo of museum in Sharg district. Image from Sablat Oman
There’s been a proliferation of art galleries and museums in the Gulf over the past few years with many more on the way. I’m planning on writing an article about the phenomenon. One museum that too few people know about is the Modern Art Museum in Kuwait. Here is a blog I wrote for the Huffington Post about it. And here is an Arabic blog with photos from Around Kuwait while this Arabic article has photos of Arab pioneer artists in the collection. Acquaint yourselves.
Below is an image from Kuwait’s Khazal Gaffas of a reclining dishdasha (Image: Yours truly)
The reason for this post is to highlight the Arab artists (my passion) who are included in the collection of Kuwait’s National Council for Culture & Art and Letters (letters?), the museum’s collection owner although non-Arabs such as the great Naser Oveisi of Iran are represented. Overall the collection is pretty impressive although I’ve seen stronger collections in Kuwaiti homes. However, the curation is below standard (actually almost doesn’t exist). Name tags are left on the ground, or sometimes on the artwork. The spelling is very poor, so is the lighting, and no description whatsoever exists. So much can be done with the museum to bring the permanent collection up to par. They could approach Qatar’s Mathaf Museum of Modern Art or the Sharjah Art Foundation in the UAE to assist with overhauling the display of the artworks and the interior. I don’t think the entire project should cost more than a couple of million dollars and one year of work, including a website, signboards, lightning, painting, display, cataloguing, archiving and perhaps a two-day art symposium to relaunch the museum, inviting scholars and curators to discuss the artists in the collection.
Below are the names of some of the pioneer Arab artists in the collection of Kuwait’s art museum:
UAE: Abdul Qader Al Rais
Kuwait: Abdul Rasool Salman, Hussein Ayoub, Khazal Gaffas, Jafar Islah, Sami Mohammed, Abdallah Al Qassar, Khalifa & Lydia Al Qattan, Thuraya Al Baqsamy.
Egypt: Injy Aflatoun, Salah Taher, Farouk Hosny (yes, I know)
Lebanon Paul Guiragossian, Hrair, Amin Bacha.
Jordan: Wijdan Ali, Mona Saudi, Yasser Dowaik.
Algeria Rachid Kuraishy.
Syria: Natheer Nabaa, Youssef Abdalki, Mahmoud Kashlan, Bassim Dahdouh
Sudan: Ibrahim Salahi.
Palestine: Kamal Boulata
Bahrain: Ebrahim Bu Saad, Hala Khaleefa
Iraq: Hani Mathhar
Yemen: Ali Ghadaf
While the Arab art collection isn’t bad the real treasures are the museum’s collection of Kuwaiti sculptures including Sami Mohammed’s “Paralysis and Resistance” from 1980, his masterpiece “Penetration” from 1979, Khazal Gaffas’ “The Dance” from 1992, Eisa Saqer “Alzafanah” from 1990 and “Memories” from 1982 amongst many others (I have images).
So if you know someone who can get the word across to the authorities in Kuwait please remind them to spare a few dollars for this wonderful museum. Kuwait after all recorded a budget surplus (that means extra money) of $52.2 Billion from April to October 2012.