Art History Lectures Introduction to Modern Arab Art
Art History Lectures: Introduction to Modern Arab Art
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XVA Gallery in Dubai invites everyone to take part in its series of art history lectures on the emergence and development of modern Arab art. One will be able to learn about different art movements and schools of thought that developed in the region (Egypt, Iraq, Morocco, Sudan, the Levant, and other parts of North Africa and West Asia) across the 20th century. The topics addressed in the lectures will also include socio-political events which shaped the region’s cultural production. In addition, the series will touch on researching modern Arab art today both practically and methodologically.

The emergence of modern Arab art was inevitably influenced by the colonial presence of European powers in the region (starting in the 19th and into the early 20th centuries). European art techniques and styles that appeared during the modern era (Impressionism, Cubism, Surrealism, Pop Art, and Abstract Expressionism) were introduced and adopted by Arabs. Thus, traditional Arab art forms fused with modern Western styles. This period also saw the rise of local art schools and institutions.

After World War II, a new generation of Arab artists emerged: they took cues from global trends in modern art. At that time, the development of art in the region was impacted by nationalism and the rise of local independence movements following the withdrawal of colonial forces after WWII. A lot of artists expressed their cultural identity and asserted their independence from colonial influence through their work.

Etel Adnan (1925-2021), Ohne Titel, 2015. Oil on linen, 38 x 46 cm. © Etel Adnan-Courtesy Galerie Lelong, Paris.

One of the most important movements in modern Arab art is the Baghdad School of Art established in the 1950s and 60s. It aimed to create a new and distinctly Arab form of modern art. Artists from the Baghdad School were inspired by the region’s cultural heritage and combined traditional techniques with contemporary styles in their practice.

The Introduction to Modern Arab Art series comprises three lectures. Each will take place from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm at the gallery:

  1. Introduction to Modernity and Modern Arab Art (Saturday, 18 November 2023).
  2. Survey of Key 20th Century Schools and Movements (Saturday, 25 November 2023).
  3. Women in Modern Arab Art (Friday, 1 December 2023).

The lectures will be led by art curator and researcher Suheyla Takesh. She obtained a Master’s degree in History, Theory, and Criticism of Architecture and Art from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she was also affiliated with the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture. Currently, Takesh is the Curator of the Barjeel Art Foundation (Sharjah, UAE), which holds a broad collection of Modern and Contemporary Arab Art. She has developed exhibitions in Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait City, Amman, Toronto, and New York.

To get more information about the lectures, please visit the official website of XVA Gallery.

You might also be interested in Art History Walks in Louvre Abu Dhabi.