The Summer Collection is split into three parts. What is the main difference between them and when do they all start?
There is not a difference per se between the three parts other than our desire to offer visitors something different over the next few months and to showcase as varied a group of contemporary Arab artists as possible. Summer Collection Part 1 is on now until July 25; Part 2 starts on July 29 and runs until August 22; the last part starts on August 30 and runs until September 15.
What has the response been like so far?
The response to the exhibition has been good. In particular, the locally based artists have all been out in a show of support for the gallery and each other.
How did you select the artists that are involved?
We selected the participating artists based on our visitor’s positive feedback from previous exhibitions, along with an emphasis on locally based Arab artists. There are four well-established Qatari artists: Ali Hassan, Faraj Daham, Salman Al Malik and Yousef Ahmad. We at the gallery refer to these four artists as the ‘arba najoom’, or ‘four stars’, as they are contemporaries of one another and are some of the most recognised names in contemporary Arab art, each with a very distinctive style. Ali Hassan is best known for his work with the Arabic letter ‘noon’, Faraj Daham’s work is more graphic and engineering oriented, and Salman Al Malik’s canvases are figurative and inspired by the local culture. Yousef Ahmad is a multifaceted artist, but is perhaps best known as an unorthodox calligrapher.
You are also featuring a number of upcoming artists – who are the highlights among these?
Three emerging artists we are particularly excited about are Aisha Al Mesnd from Qatar, Hala Al Khalifa of Bahrain and Salim Mathkour from Iraq. Visitors will definitely find their work interesting.
The gallery seems very committed to supporting artists from the region.
Al Markhiya Gallery specialises solely in the exhibition and sale of contemporary Arab art from around the world, so our shows are always ‘regional’. In the first part we are featuring the works of the ‘arba najoom’ – Ali Hassan, Faraj Daham, Salman Al Malik and Yousef Ahmad. Other regional artists being featured include Ahmad Al Bahrani (Iraq), Aisha Al Mesnd (Qatar), Ali Dasmal (Qatar), Faisal Abdulla (Qatar), Hala Al Khalifa (Bahrain), Hessa Kalla (Qatar), Mohammad Jenaid (Qatar), Mouiz Al Ogaimi (Sudan), Salim Mathkour (Iraq), Salman Abbas (Iraq), Waleed Al Qaisi (Iraq) and Ziad Bakoury (Iraq).
What do you think of the city’s art scene in general?
We are very proud to be an important part of Doha’s developing art scene. We take our role of promoting local artists and Arab artists from around the world very seriously. With the Qatar Museums Authority, the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, the Museum of Islamic Art, the soon-to-be opened Arab Museum of Modern Art, the Cultural Village and Virginia Commonwealth University, the foundations are being laid for a very exciting, dynamic and inspired cultural renaissance in the region. In the future we hope to see more art galleries open their doors in Doha.
What advice can you give for people wanting to display or develop their own art?
Our flagship event, 40 Minus, offers emerging artists under the age of 40 the opportunity to display their work in our gallery. Prospective artists submit a CD of their artwork along with their CV, and the selection committee meets and evaluates the suitability of the artwork. For artists not from the Arab world, the local hotels, particularly the Grand Hyatt, offer exciting venues for showcasing their talent. As for artists seeking to develop their skills, I recommend looking into the outstanding art degree programmes at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar Foundation, including their newest degree in painting and printmaking.
What plans do you have for the gallery after the summer season?
As part of the celebration of Doha being the Capital of Arab Culture in 2010, Al Markhiya Gallery, along with the Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, will be hosting an exhibition for the renowned Palestinian artist Tamam El Akhal. This will run from September 21-October 5.
Al Markhiya Gallery is located in Souk Waqif, (442 8007). See www.almarkhiyagallery.com for info. Open Sat-Thu 10am-noon, 4pm-10pm; Fri 4pm-10pm.