Barjeel Art Foundation Collection

Imperfect Chronology: Debating Modernism II

  • 22Jan-Kamal Boullata, La Ana Illa Ana, 1983, Silkscreen2

    (Detail) 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

  • S 117 A

    Marwan Kassab Bachi,The Three Palestinian Boys,1970,Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah

Past Exhibition

This exhibition was on 15 Dec 2015 – 17 April 2016

Imperfect Chronology: Debating Modernism II

15 December 2015 – 17 April 2016

Modern art from the Arab world – a region that encompasses North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf – can range from pure abstraction to radical figuration.

The Arab artists in this display are as diverse as the countries they hail from but came of age in the dawn of a post-colonial era. As they sought to express a cultural identity that could bridge ancient traditions and modernity, they were also experiencing periods of conflict and rapid social change.

In this second of four exhibitions drawn from the Barjeel Art Foundation, one of the most significant collections of 20th century Arab art in the world, the paintings and works on paper show how social change impacts on art.

Artists in this display, such as Huguette Caland (Beirut), Marwan (Damascus) and Kamal Boullata (Jerusalem) reveal a modernity shaped as much by local cultural traditions as by ideas of global modernism.

The exhibition also features other modern masters from Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Kuwait, Morocco, Palestine, Sudan, Syria and the UAE including Shafic Abboud, Dia Azzawi, Tayseer Barakat, Farid Belkahia, Ibrahim El SalahiJafar Islah, Abdelkader Guermaz, Miloud Labeid, Suleiman Mansour, Fateh Moudarres, Hamed Nada, Abdul Qader Al Rais, Walid Shami and Hassan Sharif.


5485-Barjeel-Cover-Museum_U1_final_1024x1024 webDedicated to the Barjeel Art Foundation Collection, a fully illustrated catalogue edited by curator Omar Kholeif maps a genealogy of modern and contemporary Arab art.

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Continuing the Whitechapel Gallery’s programme opening up rarely seen art collections, this series of four chronological displays highlights works from the Barjeel Art Foundation collection.

Display 1: Debating Modernism I

8 September – 6 December 2015

Debating Modernism I explores the emergence and subsequent development of an Arab art aesthetic through drawings and paintings from the early twentieth century to 1967.


Display 2: Debating Modernism II

15 December 2015 – 17 April 2016

Debating Modernism II focuses on figurative works of art produced between 1968 and 1987.


Display 3: Mapping the Contemporary I

26 April – 14 August 2016

Mapping the Contemporary I presents photography and video works made between 1990 and 1998.

Display 4: Mapping the Contemporary II

23 August 2016 – 8 January 2017

Mapping the Contemporary II explores how artists using various media artistically engage with the cities where they either live or work.


Jumana Manna & Kamal Boullata: Imperfect Chronology
Fri 22 Jan, 3pm

The second in a series of discussions on art practice and visual culture in the Middle East, this event brings together artist Jumana Manna and artist and art historian Kamal Boullata. Chaired by curator Omar Kholeif.

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