The earthquakes and tsunami that hit Japan recently have seen all kinds of fundraising initiatives launching around the world as people try to find ways they can help. In Doha, one of the most recent activities has come from the pairing of two young artists, Kelly Haddad and Abdulla Al Abdulla, who have teamed up with the W Doha Hotel and will be hosting an exhibition of their work later this month. The launch evening on May 14 will be an invitation-only event, in the hope that people attending will buy some of the pieces on show, with all proceeds being donated to Japan.
But we were curious. What kind of art will we be able to buy? Kelly and Abdulla, both students of the American School of Doha, explain. ‘We came up with a working title for our exhibition, we’re calling it Art Without Borders,’ says Kelly, aged 17, who is Lebanese but has lived much of her life in New York. ‘The idea is that it is a mix of ideas, random things. If there is something to connect it all, I suppose it’s simply things that we both like.’
Kelly sees herself more as a photographer, and is submitting 29 of her best photos, along with two paintings. Abdulla, meanwhile, although enjoying photography, will instead be featuring several of his paintings. Now aged 18, Abdulla reveals how he has been painting since he was seven. ‘I suppose my style is what you would call abstract art,’ he says.
‘My mood tends to reflect in the painting, so the outcome depends on if I am angry or sad. I hope people like it. They will interpret it how they like, and that interpretation will be based on what they think art is. Nothing is bad in art.’
The two have always been interested in art as a hobby, with Kelly revealing it was her cousins who taught her the basics. She will return to New York in the summer to take a photography class there. ‘I take photos of landscapes a lot,’ she says. ‘The photos I have on display are from all over the world. I’ve taken them in Beijing, New York, Greece, London, Qatar and Paris. One of my favourites is one I took of a panda in China – I don’t know why, but it’s like the panda was smiling at me.’
When Abdulla talks about his own paintings, there is one that springs to mind. ‘I did one piece that is really bright,’ he says. ‘I was thinking of a phoenix when I did it, with all this red and yellow. It’s pretty bold. But I like it when people find their own meaning.’
So while Abdulla’s work is something that can be a bit more interpretive, with Kelly’s it seems like we’ll be seeing a lot more of the familiar. ‘One of my shots of West Bay is in the gallery,’ she reveals. ‘I wanted to capture the skyline of Doha. It’s in black and white, and it shows off some of the buildings and the construction.’
It sounds like the inclusion of Qatar was an important decision, as both Abdulla and Kelly are both proud to be a part of the growing art scene here. ‘Qatar has just started to become more open to art,’ says Abdulla. ‘It’s booming.’
And from this array of work comes the pair’s first exhibition. The mezzanine floor of the W Doha Hotel will be transformed into a gallery from May 14-30, with the option to bid for the work on the opening night. ‘I’ve never done anything like this before, that’s why I’m excited,’ says Kelly. ‘We both wanted to raise money for Japan, and we both love art, that’s how this all came about. We’ve tried fundraising at school before, but never anything like this. We’re going to be advertising it at school, and telling people about it. Even a little bit is something. We just hope people come.’
Kelly and Abdulla’s art exhibition will be held on the mezzanine floor of the W Doha Hotel (4453 5353) from May 14-30. The initial sale will be held on May 14