Etihad Museum: Modern Art Through Personal Stories

Visitors to Dubai can now enjoy a rare opportunity to access prominent private collections of modern and contemporary Arab art that have been made public at the Etihad Museum.

It is a result of a new initiative called “Dubai Collection,” launched by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority and supported by Art Dubai.

Its first exhibition, “When Images Speak,” showcases about 70 artworks on loan from the collections of 11 patrons associated with the emirate, including Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Minister of Health Abdul Rahman Bin Mohammed Al Owais, media personality Cyba Audi, Johnny and Nadine Mokbel of the Mokbel Art Collection, and the Samawi Family.

The exhibition features diverse works by well-regarded artists from the region such as Fateh Moudarres, Safwan Dahoul, Kamal Boullata, Gazbia Sirry, Baya Mahieddine and Saliba Douaihy. The works have also been placed online in an attempt to build a digital archive that can be used by researchers, students and art enthusiasts.

The paintings and sculptures in the exhibition are thoughtfully divided intro three thematic parts: “Abstract Variations,” “Societies in Transition” and “Evoking the Environment.”

“The images speak of many personal stories that are somewhat claiming their space as documents of their time,” the initiative’s adviser Carlo Rizzo told Arab News. “The idea of the title ‘When Images Speak’ is to allow the space for multiple meanings to co-exist in the same room. We have the opportunity to intersect all of these personal stories with historical events, moments of transition and difficulty, celebration of certain forms of identity.”

Located in a leading cultural hub of the Middle East, Dubai Collection is the city’s latest endeavor to demonstrate the importance of patronage and the UAE’s role in writing and preserving regional art history. “In a way, the purpose of the collection is to create a group of artworks that reflect the spirit of the city,” Rizzo said.

He also hopes that such initiatives can help to inspire future generations. “Do I believe that it will encourage and contribute to the development of the culture of collecting among younger people and collectors? I hope so,” Rizzo said. “I think it would be wonderful to have that opportunity.”

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