TAMPA, Florida – The largest collection of Arabic abstract art is currently on display in Tampa at the Tampa Museum of Art.
The exhibition entitled “Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s-1980s” contains pieces from the collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation. It features works of abstract art from Arab countries including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
“It is really important for the community to have the opportunity to see a collection of works of art because it is not only a representation of a moment, but it is also a representation of a global sentiment group, ”explained Nina Womeldurf, director of marketing and communications at the Tampa Art Museum.
Abstract art comes naturally to Arab artists due to their cultural education.
“Artists from the Middle East tend to create geometric shapes,” Womeldurf said. “Really, he has a long history, centuries old, and he mostly tries to avoid portraying individual characters.”
This exhibition is the world’s largest collection of 20th century abstract art from the Middle East and is from the personal collection of Emirati commentator Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi.
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The works exhibit styles different from Western art, which is evident in the “Letterism” portion of the exhibition.
Womeldurf described it as “Using calligraphy as a way to represent their written stories is their preferred method and has been for centuries. “
Even the painting styles are different, which attracts the viewer more.
“We have a few boxes in the middle of our showroom that allow viewers to come up close and see the brush and the details,” Womeldurf said.
The exhibition truly gives the American or Western art lover a look at a different world.
“It’s part of the human experience,” said Womeldurf. “The work will speak to the viewer in a different way … (and) It helps us to look at ourselves through the eyes of the artist.”
Taking shape: the abstraction of the Arab world, 1950-1980 is on display until January 16, 2022.
CONNECT: Find out more about the exhibition at https://tampamuseum.org/current-exhibitions/.