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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Following six-month closure, Mathaf reopens with two new complex exhibitions


After a six-month closure, Qatar’s Mathaf: The Arab Museum of Modern Art, has reopened with two new exhibitions:

  • Tea with Nefertiti: The Making of the Artwork by the Artist, the Museum and the Public, which examines perceptions of art from three different perspectives: the artist, the museum, and the public, taking individual objects and following their progress, and examining how an object’s position (in a studio, in a public place or in a gallery) can change its meaning; and
  • Forever Now: Five Anecdotes from the Permanent Collection, which features work from five different artists hailing from Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Morocco.


As a starting point, Tea with Nefertiti explores the controversy over how ancient Egyptian artifacts have been collected in museums around the world, and then broadens out to encompass work that reflects modern-day fears, as portrayed by Ghada Amer’s Le Salon Courbé.

Le Salon Courbé features an ornate set of cream chairs, covered in waves of blood-coloured netting, backed by wallpaper which appears ordinary until you approach it and see the word “terrorism” embedded  repeatedly in the pattern. The word for terror in Arabic has also been embroidered into the furniture and rug. It’s a thought provoking piece, and visually stunning.

Notably, however, the explanations for exhibits were a little baffling, due to the elaborate language used. The scope of the exhibition is impressive, but simpler, more accessible labels could help visitors grasp the show’s complex concepts more fully.

Nefertiti will be at Mathaf until March 31 of next year.

Forever Now

Upstairs, Forever Now features work from five different artists from Mathaf’s permanent collection. The artists hail from Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Morocco, and this show of their work draws heavily on their immediate environment.

Particularly notable: Salim Al-Dabbagh’s moody evocations of the desert, and Fahrelnissa Zeid’s colourful abstract work. 

This exhibition will be on view until June 1 of next year.

Have you visited either exhibits? Thoughts?

Mathaf is closed on Monday but open every other day from 11 am – 6 pm, and Friday 3 pm – 9 pm. Entrance to Tea with Nefertiti is 25QR. Entrance to Forever Now is free. NB: The museum’s website still says it’s closed. They assure us they are fixing this. 

Credit: Top photo courtesy of Mathaf; second photo by Asioul

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