The city’s art scene pulsates with life as artworks can be found everywhere. Walking along Doha Corniche, one can encounter the highly complex stainless steel calligraphic sculpture by Sabah Arbilli, see César Baldaccini’s monumental thumb sculpture while visiting Souq Waqif, have a look at Guillaume Rousere’s sculpture “Allow Me” while stopping by Msheireb Metro Station, or view eL Seed’s colourful calligraffiti works while passing by the Salwa tunnel.
No visitor, who has been in the country, has returned to his hometown unimpressed by Qatar’s ever thriving art scene. With Qatar Museums’ recent announcement of over a dozen artists creating art pieces in different locations this month through its Jedariart initiative, Qatar’s public art scene is sure to get a further boost.
While museums and galleries have already opened their doors with safety precautions, public art presents a good alternative to encounter and appreciate art in an informal and interactive way.
Home to a galaxy of public art pieces, Doha offers a window into a great variety of artworks starting from Hamad International Airport (HIA) – a preview of what the country can offer in the field of art and culture. The airport inspires travelers from miles and cultures away with a wide range of public art pieces by local, regional and international artists.
Perhaps the most conspicuous and famous public art piece in HIA is the Lamp Bear by Swiss artist Urs Fischer. Virtually every visitor to Qatar couldn’t help but take a photo with the 23ft canary yellow teddy bear to have something happy to remember of their Doha visit.
Other works by prominent international artists that can be seen at the airport are Cosmos by French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel, Small Lie by American artist KAWS, and Oryx sculptures by Dutch artist Tom Claassen. Among other international artists whose works are displayed at HIA are Tom Otterness, Adel Abdessemed, Maurizio Cattelan, Don Gummer, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, Marc Quinn, Anselm Reyle, Rudolf Stingel, and Bill Viola.
Mural by Dimitrije Bugarski at Doha Fire Station.
Local and regional artists whose works are installed at the airport include Ali Hassan, Ahmed Al Bahrani, Dia Azzawi, Mohammed Aljaida, Mubarak Al Malik, Amal Al Aathem, and Yousif Ahmed.
In many parts of the world, many art pieces have been born out of events of historical significance. At Doha Fire Station, powerful and visually striking murals marking 100 days of the blockade never fail to catch the attention of visitors. The works which adorn the exterior walls of the home of Artists in Residence were created by Mubarak Al Malik, Ali Al Kuwari, Dimitrije Bugarski, Thamer Mesfer, and Assil Diab.
Another institution which plays an important role in the country’s cultural scene, the Cultural Village Foundation (Katara) teems with murals and sculptures by local and international artists such as the late Qatari artist Yousef Al Sada’s one-million-piece mosaic called Challenge, Argentinean street artist Martin Ron’s 11-metre tall mural Oryx Goes Forward, Italian artist Lorenzo Quinn’s sculpture The Force of Nature, and Indian artist Subodh Gupta’s Gandhi’s Three Monkeys.
All of the museums in Qatar never run short of important public art pieces such as 7 by Richard Serra at the Museum of Islamic Art Park, ALFA by Jean-Michel Othoniel and Flag of Glory by Ahmed Al Bahrani at the National Museum of Qatar, and The Guardian of the Fertile Crescent by Ismail Fattah at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art.
Venues hosting big international events such as the Qatar National Convention Center and Doha Exhibition and Convention Center as well as several plush hotels also have their own art installations on display.
And there are more to come with Qatar Museums’ latest public art initiative in which 17 artists will leave their mark at several locations in Qatar including Al-Abraj Park, Al-Asmakh area, Doha Festival City Interchange, Alkhor Interchange, Post Office Park, 5/6 Park, 5/6 Flyover, Qatar National Library Metro Station and the Woqod Petrol Station in Fereej Kulaib.
The participating artists include Mubarak Al Malik, Huda Basahal, Noura Al Mansoori, Dimitrije Bugarski, Nada Khozestani, Sharefa Al Mannai, Thamer Al Dossari, Muna Al Bader, Fatima Al Sharshani, Michael Perrone, Maryam Al Maadhadi, Shuaa Al Kuwari, Abdulaziz Yousef, Abdulla Al Emadi, Alanoud Al Ghamdi, Haifa Al Khuzaei and Aisha Al Fadhala.
In a press statement, Qatar Museums said the artworks will provide a tangible sense of space for the community, and by serving as a new touristic attraction, increase foot traffic through neighbourhoods.
By organising a number of competitions and open calls, Qatar Museums turns developing the country’s art scene active and participatory involving both local and international artists.
Sculptures and installations can also be found in several parks around the country. Public art is one of the important components of the large-scale second and third packages of Doha Central Development and Beautification Projects as recently announced by Ashghal.
Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic, massive development in Doha’s art landscape is undeniably apparent and its vibrancy can be seen in the growing presence of public art.
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