A Qatari artist has spoken of her distress after two of her paintings were discovered by a friend in the underground car park at Katara last week, four years after they were displayed in an exhibition at the Qatar Fine Arts Society (QFAS) in the cultural village.
Qatar University graduate Fatima Mohammed, who works as an animator for Jeem TV (formerly the Al Jazeera Children’s Channel), told Doha News that she had been trying to retrieve the paintings ever since they went up in 2010.
She described how a fellow artist, Mohammed Al Hamadi, spotted the collection of paintings, which were apparently all by Qatari artists, on National Sport Day:
“He parked underground, and he spotted some art covered up nearby, and he was curious. He pulled the cover off, and he found the paintings. Two of them were mine.
He called me immediately, and told me he’d found the paintings I’d been searching for. He told me one was in a bad condition. I told him to take them away with him. When he took them out of the car and gave them to back me, I cried.”
One of the paintings was damaged because it had been removed from its frame using a knife, she said.
The remaining pieces had disappeared by the time Al Hamadi went back to the car park at 11pm to pick up some more of the art, she added.
Fatima Mohammed immediately shared her story on Twitter, prompting discussion under the hashtag #جريمة_جمعية_الفنون_التشكيليه_
Speaking to Doha News, a spokesperson at Katara stated that its employees had played no part in the incident and referred questions to QFAS.
The chairman of QFAS’ board of directors, Yusuf Al Sada, said he was not prepared to comment on the issue, except to say that the allegations had “only been made by one artist,” and that he felt the incident had been “blown out of proportion.”
Fatima Mohammed told us that officials at Katara had apologized to the artists, “even though they weren’t responsible,” she said. “We appreciate that.”
Local art scene
The Qatar Fine Arts Society was founded in 1980, with an original group of 18 artists. It’s now housed at Katara, and its membership has grown to over 150.
It holds exhibitions, events and debates, and aims to promote Qatari artists both locally and internationally.
It’s not the only local organization working to support local artists, however. As well as featuring art from around the globe, the Qatar Museums Authority (QMA) also recently announced a project to help support local artists.
QMA told Doha News last month that the city’s former Civil Defense headquarters was going to be transformed into an art center that focuses on “exchange between local artists, the community and the booming art scene in Qatar.”
The building, an initiative by the Public Arts Department, will host an Artists in Residence Program, offering studio space, supply shops and workshops to local artists.