Thursday, October 6, 2011

Modern Art Museum Qatar

Have you heard of Mathaf?  It is the new museum of modern art in Qatar and we finally paid a visit.  I wasn't expecting much, because, well, this is Qatar, but I wasn't disappointed.  It is a great diversion for the art, color, and culture-starved population of Doha.  It is located just outside of Education City, so there's no need to pass through any official looking gate and leave your I.D.; you can just drive into the small, empty parking lot, like we did, and get your fill of pointillism, impressionism, and abstractism (and yes, those are all words in the high-falootin art world).  The best part of the whole experience is that it is free, so you are only spending your time, and to me, it is worth it.  You can visit the website here to get more specifics and see a video about the museum.

From the looks of the photo above, Mathaf is not much to look at, but when you drive into the compound and walk across the parking lot, this is what you see.
The Guardian of the Fertile Crescent by Ismail Fattah (deceased) and finished by Ali Nouri.
 Al-Safina (the ship) by Adam Henein

The outer courtyard seems very Egyptian-esque in its presentation but maybe there are some baby Stonehenge influences as well.

In the lobby of the museum there are gigantic paintings of the Qatari emir Sheik Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani and his wife Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned by Yan Pei-Ming.  They are impressive and Brett really liked the style the artist used.  They are one of the few items I was allowed to photograph, so I can share them here:

Another lobby exhibit:

Another appeal of this museum is that it isn't so big that the amount of art to investigate is overwhelming.  We spent maybe 90 minutes and had a quick look at all the exhibits.  If Abbey hadn't been with us we might have spent a little more time, but her opinion was, and I quote, "This is just a quick glance museum."

Yes, even the signage was artsy!

Because photography of the exhibits is not allowed, I cannot give you any visuals from the other exhibits but I thought they were interesting and inspiring.  It is great to see Middle Eastern artists being recognized in this way.  The local culture seems so mired in tradition that it was refreshing to see some more contemporary interpretations of the Middle East.

As we left, we again enjoyed the outer courtyard, but this time in the dwindling sunlight.  The setting sun gave it a whole new look.  And just as the desert breathes a sigh of relief as twilight approaches, so did we, having had our artistic cups filled with a few more drops of local culture.

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