It is my pleasure to welcome you to the Majaz: Contemporary Art Qatar exhibition, which includes works by distinguished artists both native to Qatar as well as local residents of diverse nationalities. The selected pieces reflect the level of artistic expression and creative experimentation that we have achieved through the Artist in Residence programme at the Fire Station. We have decided to hold this exhibition after five consecutive seasons of the residency programme, which showcased a distinct character every year. Furthermore, we faced tough times during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has had a great impact on our participating artists at the Fire Station. These difficulties have inspired them to produce these special works around you in this exhibition.
Over the past five years, each exhibition has been imbued with a unique spirit according to the nature of the artists’ practices, their creative and technical experience and their cultural backgrounds. This is what makes the programme special and provides it with the energy and vigor that we see in the final artworks produced at the end of the residency.
This is testament to the vision of Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani, the chairperson of Qatar Museums, in promoting Qatari culture and advancing the domestic art scene while strengthening relations between various cultures across the globe.
Qatar's hosting of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ is an opportunity to serve as a platform for dialogue between visitors to Qatar from all over the world and our distinguished artists, through the creative messages expressed in their work, as art is a universal language.
I would like to thank the staff at the Fire Station, who worked diligently in assisting our artists, and therefore helped build a remarkable grouping of their pieces to document the artistic movement in Qatar. I would also like to acknowledge their dedication to developing workshops and other activities for all members of society, which stems from the staff’s enthusiasm in sharing art with the general public.
I hope you enjoy this exhibition and I wish all the best to the teams participating in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
Khalifa bin Ahmad Al Obaidly
Director, Fire Station Artist in Residence programme
Director, Tasweer Photography Festival
Since the start of the Artist in Residence programme in 2015, we have seen five consecutive residencies breathe life into the Fire Station. We have witnessed the development of a burgeoning art scene in Qatar and the formation of dynamic and tight-knit artistic communities, and we believe our annual residency programme has contributed to both. In Majaz: Contemporary Art Qatar, we wanted to bring back as many alumni artists as possible. We felt it was time to showcase how our alumni have progressed since their residencies ended and to introduce their latest work to local, regional and international audiences during FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
Rather than offering a theme, we pursued a bottom-up curatorial approach. We asked each artist to present us with their own ideas and concepts; we also viewed their most recent work to study the topics they address and their sources of inspiration. We wanted every artist to feel the freedom to express and represent themselves accurately. Through these collective exchanges, we began to find common threads which eventually bound everything together. At its core, the exhibition explores storytelling through displaying works by artists from different backgrounds and nationalities.
In the exhibition, we propose three elements of storytelling: a main character(s), a distinctive place or an intriguing narrative. Utilising a diverse set of materials and mediums and consistently taking experimental routes, our participating artists picked up one or more of these themes. Throughout the exhibition, the artists act as narrators presenting distinctive viewpoints and unique perspectives. From the colours and sounds of our environment, mythical tales they heard growing up to random encounters at a bookshop, the displayed works are stories manifested and reflect the experiences of our artists.
We are happy to present this five-year celebratory exhibition Majaz: Contemporary Art Qatar as not only a platform for our participating alumni artists to showcase their development since leaving their residencies but also as a confirmation of the crucial role the Fire Station plays as a cultural institution in Qatar. We hope you enjoy this exhibition and come away with an increased understanding of the artistic scene in Qatar.
Saida Al-Khulaifi holds an MA degree in Museums and Gallery practice from University College of London and a BA in English from Qatar University. Currently holding the position of Acting Head of Residency Programmes, Al-Khulaifi has been managing the residency programmes as well as curating and organising exhibitions in the space’s galleries since 2018. These exhibitions include AIR 4 Infinite Dimensions (2019) and AIR 5 Grey Times (2021) at the Fire Station’s Garage Gallery.
Amal Ali is the Exhibitions Coordinator for Qatar Museums at the Fire Station Artist in Residence and co-curator alongside Saida Al-Khulaifi of the Majaz: Contemporary Art Qatar’ exhibition. Prior to that, she was the Programs Associate for The Media Majlis at Northwestern University in Qatar. Amal has a BS in Communication from Northwestern University in Qatar. Recently, Amal has begun experimenting in visual arts, focusing primarily on painting imaginative portraits.