Qatar’s art scene is a burgeoning one, but it can be tough for artists – particularly up-and-coming ones – to find the support needed to unleash their creativity to the world. But one small gallery, hidden in the winding laneways of Souk Waqif, aims to guide and encourage some of Qatar’s lesser-known names.
Housed in a whitewashed building with a sun-filled courtyard, the Al Hosh Al Qatari Lil Funoon gallery opened last summer, allowing artists to pull up a stool in the workshop, and freely use canvases, paints and other materials required to create their work. ‘We don’t look for art experience or how famous you are,’ points out Mahmoud bin Nassir, the gallery manager. ‘We care about the art. If you are an artist, we will encourage you to create more art. If we see you are good, we can give you anything you need. You can keep your art inside and work here, and after that we can display it for you.’
Already, the workshop – a tiny, though naturally lit room crammed with easels, stools and materials – has attracted six local artists, Ghanim al Ghanim, Faisal al Abdullah, Noor al Hadi, Talal Al Qasmi, Kholood al Ali and Shaad al Ghanim. ‘Sometimes there are four of five artists working inside at the same time,’ says Mahmoud. ‘It’s a small space, but when the artist is in the mood, they don’t care.’
Once the artist has completed a piece, they can display it in the gallery with profits from a sale divided according to terms between the artist and owners. Many of the artists are Qatari, but Noor al Hadi is a Sudanese artist whose abstract paintings are flying off the walls, according to Mahmoud. ‘In all of his art, you can find a meaning,’ he says, pointing to a small painting that, among a series of cubic and rectangular-shaped splashes of colour, highlights a man’s face. The man’s penetrating eyes look lost, as though he has erased all memory of his past. Behind him are blurred figures with a distorted blue bird flying above. ‘This tells the story about a Sudanese man,’ explains Mahmoud. ‘His sister was getting married and, in Sudan, the brother is supposed to provide for the sister and the husband. But he went away and forgot about her. Twenty five years later, he has completely forgotten her.’
In addition to supporting artists, the gallery also runs courses in ceramics, pottery, drawing and handicrafts. ‘The reason for this gallery is to encourage the art movement in Qatar,’ says Mahmoud. ‘Local artists don’t find there is enough encouragement from the government. We hope that we can help them.’
Al Hosh, Souk Waqif, behind The Coffee Beanery and adjacent to Souk al Najada Street (441 1305 / 619 1440).