The Short Century
Modern works from the collection
April 23–December 24, 2016
Sharjah Art Museum
United Arab Emirates
T +971 6 556 6555
Barjeel Art Foundation presents The Short Century, an exhibition of modern Arab art from throughout the 20th Century at the Sharjah Art Museum
The exhibition presents a period-based framework to view Arab art in a broad sense, focusing on major movements, artists, and changes of the 20th Century; with a focus on pre-contemporary mediums of painting and sculpture; narratives of nation-building, national mythology, urban life; the development of modern “hurufiyya”; and the advent of abstraction.
The concept of using a broad historical frame allows the viewer to follow directions taken by artists at the beginning of the century and explore how they develop over the following decades. This provides an entry point for understanding modern art from the Arab region over the past century, and provides a rich and diverse context for the contemporary art currently produced in the region and beyond.
Artists include foundational painters Mahmoud Said and Seif Wanly, Egyptian modernists Abdel Hadi El Gazzar and Inji Efflatoun, Iraqi modernists Dia Azzawi and Shakir Hassan Al Said, and Lebanese abstractionists Saliba Douaihy and Saloua Raouda Choucair, amongst many others.
The Short Century refers to a historical way of thinking of the 20th Century as taking place between two major events, the First World War (1914) and the fall of the Soviet Union (1991). Similar events simultaneously frame the Arab region, such as Sykes-Picot Agreement (1916) and the fall of the Ottoman Empire (1920) and the Gulf War (1990–91), and provide a backdrop for the artistic development and cultural trajectories of the region.
About the Barjeel Art Foundation
The Barjeel Art Foundation is an independent, United Arab Emirates-based initiative established to manage, preserve and exhibit a private collection of modern and contemporary Arab art. The foundation’s guiding principle is to contribute to the intellectual development of the art scene in the Arab region by building a prominent, publicly accessible art collection in the UAE and online. Part of this objective involves developing a public platform to foster critical dialogue around contemporary art practices with a focus on artists with Arab heritage internationally. Barjeel Art Foundation exhibits locally in Sharjah, and internationally through loans and curated exhibitions, most recently Imperfect Chronology at Whitechapel Gallery in London, and Home Ground at the Aga Khan Museum in Toronto.
About the Sharjah Museums Department
The Sharjah Museums Department (SMD) was established in 2006 by His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, as an independent government department. SMD includes 16 museums covering Islamic art and culture, archaeology, heritage, science, marine life and the history of Sharjah and the region.
SMD vision: To be a cultural beacon that enhances Sharjah’s identity locally and internationally and contribute in nurturing a community aware of museums’ importance as a cultural, educational and enjoyable destination.
SMD mission: Deliver the highest museum standards to preserve collections & enhance an appreciation of culture and learning through our exhibitions, educational and community programs.
*(1) Hamed Ewais, The Protector of Life (detail), 1967–68. Oil on canvas, 132 x 100 cm. (2) Effat Nagi, The High Dam, 1966. Acrylic on wood, 120 x 120 cm. (3) Dia Azzawi, Mask of the Pretenders (detail), 1966. Oil on canvas, 86 x 66.5 cm. (4) Samia Halabi, White Cube in Brown Cube, 1969. Oil on canvas, 122 x 122 cm. (5) M’hamed Issiakhem, Woman and Wall (detail), c. 1970s. Oil on canvas, 162 x 130 cm. (6) Saloua Rauoda Choucair, Composition in Yellow (detail), 1962–65. Oil on panel, 51.4 x 81.3 cm. (7) Shakir Hassan Al Said, El Deek Al Faseeh (The Articulate Cockerel) (detail), 1954. Oil on canvas, 60 x 44 cm. All images courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation.