Barjeel Art Foundation Collection


Continuing the Whitechapel Gallery’s programme opening up rarely seen art collections for everyone, a series of four chronological displays launching this September and concluding in January 2017, highlights works from the Barjeel Art Foundation’s rich collection. Artists from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and elsewhere in the region tell the story of Arab art from the modern to the contemporary period.
The Barjeel Art Foundation is based in the UAE and was founded by Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi in 2010. It holds one of the most extensive collections of art from the region, dating from the 1900s to the present day. This series of exhibitions at the Whitechapel Gallery features over 60 artists and 100 works of art from the collection, and explores four different themes, which examine ways of defining Arab art from its early modernist beginnings and geographies.

Exhibition Timeline

8 September – 6 December 2015
Debating Modernism I 

15 December 2015 – 17 April 2016
Debating Modernism II

26 April – 14 August 2016
Mapping the Contemporary I

23 August 2016 – 8 January 2017
Mapping the Contemporary II

Related Events

Kamal Boullata La Ana Illa Ana (There Is No ‘I’ But ‘I’) 1983 Silkscreen 60 x 40 cm Image Courtesy of Meem Gallery Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah

Imperfect Chronology Talk

The first in a series of discussions on art and visual culture in the Middle East.

Lawrence Abu Hamdan, The All-hearing, 2014, video web

Audio Tour

Explore the exhibition with this detailed audio description, including tactile images.


The first in a series of discussions on art and visual culture in the Middle East, exploring the possibilities of thinking beyond geography, towards multiple and new forms of representation. Speakers include Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi and Edward Macdonald-Toone. Chaired by Curator Omar Kholeif. Supported by The Barjeel Art Foundation.

Debating Modernism I

Display one explores the emergence and subsequent development of an Arab art aesthetic through drawings and paintings from the early twentieth century to 1967, an important historical period in the region.

S 117 A

Debating Modernism II

Display two focuses on figurative works of art in the Barjeel Art Collection produced between 1968 and 1987.

Yto Barrada, Rue la Liberte, 2000, pigmented inject print for website

Mapping the Contemporary I

Display three presents photography and video works made between 1990 and 1998.

GCC Collective, Micro Council, 2013, Wood, brass, acrylic glass, glass web

Mapping the Contemporary II

The fourth and final display explores how artists using various media artistically engage with the cities where they either live or work.

Find Out More

Read the Press Release here.