Though the art in Hassan Sharif: Objects and Files was originally created in the ’80s, it’s lost none of its relevance. Primarily concerned with themes of urban change, growth and global industrialisation, Sharif bought and collected objects from around Dubai – rugs from souqs, rubble from construction sites – combining them to create something entirely new.
This particular collection (created between 1985 and 1987) is rooted in the natural world, mainly making use of resources like paper. Sharif explored our relationship with the earth, in light of Dubai’s rapid expansion which was just beginning to gather speed, as the late ’80s morphed into the early ’90s. Later, his works would begin to incorporate more industrial materials like plastics and metals, as he continued his examination of industrialisation and consumerism. But the period of time from ’85 to ’87 is when he began to establish new systems of repetition and execution in his work. In a sense, it became the starting point of a kind of “signature” artistic style.
On display now, in Doha, a city in the midst of a construction boom, his work has taken on a new relevance and new associations. And this is one of the main intentions of Mathaf’s Focus series, of which Sharif’s work forms a part, allowing us to revisit and re-experience older art, in light of current events.
It’s an intriguing, slightly nostalgic and thought-provoking exhibition offering a new perspective on the city.
Free. Open Sat-Sun and Tue-Thu 11am-6pm; Fri 3pm-8pm; closed Mon. Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Education City, www.mathaf.org.qa (4402 8855).