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Mallawal English

Mallawal English

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Published by Laurene Leon Boym

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Published by: Laurene Leon Boym on Oct 27, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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on’t let Qatar’s aridity ool you. Theweather here may be dreary(literally!), but the art scene isabsolutely buzzing. Find it hard tobelieve? Just look at the past 18months, when Qatar has treated artlovers to world-class art events,hosting Louise Bourgeois at the QatarMuseums Authority (QMA) Gallery inKatara, Richard Serra at the Museumo Islamic Art Park, Cai Guo-Qiang atMahta : Museum o Modern Art andTakashi Murakami at the Al Riwaq Gallery. People rom allaround the Gul ew in to experience this culmination o beautiul art, putting Qatar prominently on the world map asthe art paradise o the region. All thanks to the perseveranceand diligence o the QMA.Having caught the attention o the international art world,the Qatari leadership is ocusing keenly on the grassroots artscene by nurturing and supporting local talent. Having aspectrum o world-class exhibitions on the doorstep o thelocal artist’s studio is undoubtedly an enormous plus but theostering o established Qatari artists is also equallyimportant or the education o younger artists and thecreation o benchmarks or uture excellence. And in doingso, the government is supporting local heritage andencouraging its public to take art and heritage by the reinsand embrace the country's colorul past.Such devoted attempts haven’t gone unnoticed. The"Swali "exhibit hosted at the Matha Arab Museum o Modern Art in 2011 was a successul example. Swali celebrated more than 20 o the country’s most inuentialartists and our decades o art production, with the worksillustrating noteworthy moments in art history.In this context, the 2012 endeavor “Mal Lawal” is also nostranger to this ideology. Mal Lawal, hosted at the sprawlingAl Riwaq Gallery on the Corniche, is a ne attempt to eature(under one roo!) our generations o Qatari artists, and linktheir works within the historical and cultural context o locally exhibited collections.Ironically titled, Mal Lawal means “old days” in Arabic,but it aims to develop the uture o the Qatari art scene bycelebrating the tradition, the culture and the dialect o avibrant Qatari era.
The Mal lawalexhibiTion, devoTed To revering The old, is acTually anoffering of ancesTral blessings for a resonanT fuTure.by laurene leon boyM
The show displays an exciting archeology o Qatar inpersonal collections o paraphernalia, culled rom variousQatari collectors, and illuminates the romance that theolden days continue to shadow over the creative uture o thecountry.Mal Lawal may ollow the conventional two-sectionormat: cultural artiacts and works o art; however, the lineshere are blurred invariably to orm one bite-sized platormthat displays and shares private collections o antiqueobjects and pieces as well as Qatari art works with a widegroup o visitors. Art curator Hala Al Khalia, EducationManager in the Public Art Department o QMA and anesteemed artist hersel, sees the two parts as diametric yetcompletely complimentary: “Old vs new, collections vscontemporary, and the dialog they bring together.”The rst part o the exhibition houses vintage objects,including a generous serving rom the private collection o HH the Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalia Al Thanirepresented by priceless treasures o Arabic and Islamicheritage. Visitors are ofered spectacular views o vintageblack and white photos, Persian miniaturepaintings, and ramed
manuscripts o Ottoman Sultans or traveling pilgrims.The majority o the reestanding glasscases in the rst ew rooms o theexhibition are dedicated to precioustalismans o the Islamic Golden Age (withmany examples rom the Emir’scollection). Here, museum visitors take atrip back to the period when the Muslimworld became an intellectual center orscience, astronomy, philosophy, educationand medicine, including ophthalmology.Islamic medicine is represented by objectslike painstakingly drawn anatomy bookswith diagrams o the human body, pairedwith ancient surgical tools to make anoperation. There is a medical kit dedicatedto the art o 
, which ismale circumcision carried out as anIslamic rite. Alongside, star gazers travel leaps and bounds inthe Arab heritage o astronomy by way o books, calendarsand ancient charts that calculate the phases o the moon.Paradoxical juxtapositions can be viewed in the gallerywhere a beautiul painting depicting Islam’s contribution tothe arts with writers and artists o the 17th century AD andscholarly books about the Arabian Nights and Alexander theGreat are displayed alongside battle scenes and warpaintings and the Battle o Karbalah.The room dedicated soley to amber is truly breathtaking;the clarity o the vast panoplies o singular objects, such asprayer beads, makes a successul and bold statement. Theefect is truly incredible, when masses o prayer beads arepaired with amber cigarette holders and knie handles areexhibited in long slim vitrines. This is where a museum-goercan “ooh and ah” over the variety o items and compare therichness and diference o the manuactured artiactscontrasted side by side with jumbo chunks o unrenedambergris material.Moving on, various domestic items dated as late as the1940s are on display. Standing wooden tripods steadygoatskin troughs or butter churning; wood and camel skinbaby backpacks are the surprising ancestors o today’sBaby Bjorn baby carriers. There are wood and metal shingpaddles and tools, paying homage to Qatar’s seaaring past,alongside kitchen bowls, wool knitting tools, war armor andanimal skins.However, as we time-travel along the exhibit hall, thecontent suddenly modernizes, mirroring lie’s changes herein Qatar in the late 1940s. The pioneering photography o veteran Qatari journalist Nasser Mohamed Al Othman is ondisplay as he pictorially documents the 1949 – early 1950soil and gas discovery in Qatar. In conjunction, items thatwere used to practice large-scale photography and othersuch technologies at the time in the country are alsodisplayed.At this point in the exhibition, public submissions romcitizens and residents o Qatar begin, eaturing personalobject collections that were solicited by curators in a call orentries last spring. This, in act, is a joyous celebration o thecreativity o the everyday Arab. One can argue that thecollections shown are equal to, or even as creative as some o the ne art on display. It’s sheer un to mistake therandomness o entire cubicle lined with careully archivedmonetary notes (collector: Hassan Al Naimi) that happen toshare the same serial numbers, or a gallery-basedconceptual art installation.The only aw in the exhibition is that the stories o someo the collections are much more interesting than theiractual physical displays in the hall. More attention could bepaid to the mise-en-scene or the objects. While it makesperect curatorial sense to present these collections ingroupings by personal ownership, the casual ormatunpleasantly resembles commercial trade show booths. The
“ ” 
"Display of colorinfusedkitchenware in themuseum cafe"

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