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Full House At ’Art Conversation’ With Sheikh Sultan Al Qassimi
(7 August 2011)


Last week, Funoon, the art & culture division of Dubai Ladies Club, which is a member of Dubai Women Establishment, hosted its largest ‘Art Conversation’ session yet with Sheikh Sultan Al Qassimi, Art collector and Founder of Barjeel Art Foundation.

The open discussion was well attended by distinguished members of the local and international art community including Khalil Abdulwahid, Visual Arts Manager at Dubai Culture & Arts Authority, Guy Vesey, Regional Director – Bonhams Dubai, Leonore Namkha Beschi, Director of The Salsali Museum, Katja Sander from the Robert Bosch Cultural Manager Fellowship at Sharjah Museums Department, Mohammad Al Qassab from Emirates Fine Arts Society, Myrna Ayad, Deputy Editor of Canvas Magazine and Noor al Suwaidi, Emirati artist. There were also many young emerging artists, students, members of the media attending. Admission to the event was free for men and women.

The interactive session offered art students and enthusiasts a platform for the exchange of ideas and expertise related to the art, culture and education. Al Qassimi discussed the varied aspects of an art collector’s social responsibility and the evolution of collecting in the UAE over the past thirty years.

Sarah Ayoub Agha, Funoon Supervisor at Dubai Ladies Club said, “We are delighted to welcome Sheikh Sultan Al Qassimi to our monthly Art Conversation session. The response to these events has consistently grown each month and we were happy to welcome over 90 members form the art community to this Ramadan session.”

She added, “It was especially encouraging to see the audience use this event as an opportunity to extract valuable knowledge from the speaker. It speaks directly to our mission of preparing students and amateur artists for professional careers.”

The discussion began with a look at the history of modern and contemporary art of the Arab world and specifically in the UAE. Al Qassimi highlighted the various artists and galleries that that were major contributors in initiating a local art movement. He then tracked the recent developments made the local art scene through the involvement of the government and emergence of art collectors and art patrons in the region.

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, who has played an integral role in establishing various platforms to recognize and promote art from diverse corners of the Arab world. He is the Chairman and Partner of Meem Gallery, a prominent art gallery operating in Dubai. He is also the founder of the Barjeel Art Foundation, which features his private collection of contemporary Arab artwork in rotating public exhibitions. He is also a columnist and his columns have appeared in Britain’s The Financial Times, The Independent and The Guardian, America’s Foreign Policy and The Huffington Post, India’s The Hindu, Lebanon’s Daily Star, London’s International Institute For Strategic Studies, The National in Abu Dhabi, Dubai’s Gulf Business and Saudi Arabia’s Arab News amongst others. Sultan Al Qassemi is a non-resident Fellow at the Dubai School of Government.

The talk also included a presentation of artworks from Al Qassimi’s private collection at Barjaal Art Foundations. This evolved into a discussion about the themes in his collection. He pointed out that several pieces from his collection can also serve as archaeological documentation of the political and social history of this region - a reflection of Arab life during the artist’s lifetime.

‘Art Conversations’ is a monthly series of open discussions on art facilitated by leading luminary art experts from the local and international art scene. The series are being organised by Funoon, the art & culture division of Dubai Ladies Club, to provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and expertise related to the art, culture and education. The topics will focus on assisting emerging artists to further develop and improve their creative and conceptual thinking, art critique, art appreciation and Aesthetics.

Tuesday, 6 September, 2011
Roberto Lopardo - Professor of Photography, American University in Dubai

Roberto Lopardo is the former Dean of Visual Communication and professor of photography at the American University in Dubai. Currently, he is employed as a full-time artist and his latest artistic endeavours centre around the MAPS [mediated photographic studies] Project. Lopardo will introduce the book ‘Seven Days in the Art World’ - that provides a thorough overview of what it means to work, play and suffer in the art world – in relation to his own experiences making and marketing artworks in New York and Dubai. Thereby providing to the audience with a real world scenario of what may await a future budding Emirates based artist.

Tuesday, 4 October, 2011
Sumayyah Al Suwaidi – Digital Artist

In 2001, Sumayyah Al Suwaidi became the first female digital artist from the UAE, quickly building a reputation for her innate ability to transform seemingly normal and boring photographs into masterpieces of emotions and sensuality. Al Suwaidi will talk about the ideas and motivations behind her individual studio practice as well as shed light on the rise of a new art medium - digital media. The session will take a non-technical look at issues surrounding digital media through the lens of digital art.

Tuesday, 1 November, 2011
Ramin Salsali – Art Collector

Iranian Art Collector, Ramin Salsali’s private collection consists of over 400 pieces in a variety of mediums with a focus on Iranian, Emirati & Arab artists. He was recognized at Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Patrons of the Arts award in 2010 and 2011. In September 2011, Salsali will open the first private museum in Dubai to display his private collection as well as host other collectors from the region. Salsali will speak about his new initiative which is set to become the first non-profit support and advisory centre for all collectors in the region.

‘Conversations’ will be one of several new art initiatives launched by Funoon – the art division of Dubai Ladies Club. The newly reinvented art division was established to guide and solidify the role that arts and other cultural resources play in defining and enhancing the social fabric and quality of life of people living in the UAE. Funoon with work local, regional and international foundations to enhance the UAE’s reputation as a cultural destination through programs that educate and expose the public to a rich and diverse range of cultural expressions through a variety of initiatives.

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