Metal artwork at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art

About the Galleries

Mathaf’s permanent collection galleries bring together landmark artists and pivotal works from the Arab World, the Middle East and other regions that are historically connected to Qatar and the Arab Peninsula.

Major themes of aesthetics and politics of change and progress within multiple modernities and histories of art and society are addressed: the rise of nation states; colonial struggles and post-independence projects of reconstruction; the development and influence of the oil industry; the birth of new urban centers and cities; and aspirations to progress in a global, hyper digitalized and networked era.

Many of these works address the movement of human civilization through rapidly changing models in history. For example, the paintings and sculptures by Mahmoud Mokhtar, Hafidh Droubi, and Jawad Selim create new visual tendencies inspired by ancient civilizations. Works by Chaibia, Inji Efflatoun, Paul Guiragossian, Faiq Hassan, and Issa Saqer are portraits of society, while the work of Seif Wanly, Abdullah al-Muharraqi, and Hamed Owais depict social and industrial progress.

Traditional signs, craft and calligraphy are appropriated by Ahmed Cherkaoui, Chaouki Choukini, and Parviz Tanavoli. Abstracted geometric of forms, as well as architecture, science, and technology are active in the work of Saloua Raouda Choucair, Jilali Gharbaoui, and Mohamed Melehi. Hassan Sharif, Faraj Daham, and Yousef Ahmad use natural materials, found objects, and local languages to express strong statements on the shifting economic and ecological environments of the UAE and Qatar.

Artists, poets, and artworks are witnesses to histories and changing perspectives. The display considers the production of art driven by colonial and Post-Independence geopolitics, as well as pan-African and pan-Arab cultural movements from the late 1950s to transnational connections of the Generation 00 artists working in the 2000s’, who made strong statements preceding the Arab Spring and current revolutionary changes around the world. The political and artistic positions of Farid Belkahia, Ibrahim El Salahi, and Hossein Zenderoudi contribute to the reinvention of visual languages that rupture Eurocentric canons. Contemporary conceptual works by Manal AlDowayan, Hayv Kahraman, and Wael Shawky question historical narratives and interrogate struggles for freedom.

Looking beyond linear histories of art, Mathaf gives value to critical thinking and artistic production across multiple modernities highlighting the emergence of new tendencies in art over the last hundred years that is connected to the transformation of social and ecological landscapes.

The display of Mathaf’s permanent collection proposes reading a multitude of approaches and statements on the making of art. It is conceived with a curatorial approach that looks at art histories and discourses of major tendencies and movements in dialogue with pan-Arab cultural groups and international avant-gardes. Shaped by diverse sociopolitical contexts and conditions of production, the museum and the collection contribute an original perspective to local and global conversations on art and society.

Galleries 1–7: Temporary Exhibitions

Mathaf's temporary exhibitions present internationally acclaimed modern and contemporary artists. These exhibitions introduce artists whose work plays an important role in opening conversations on the social and political shifts in the history and contemporary life of Qatar, Middle East and Arab world, to investigate the way societies are structured, and interrogate the role art plays in our local and regional contexts. 

Current Exhibitions

Permanent Collection Galleries

The Museum’s permanent collection is displayed in the first-floor galleries. The exhibition rotates artwork on view to share as much from the collection as possible. The presentation of key works looks beyond traditional linear histories of art to highlight diverse readings and narratives in the collection and contextualize intellectual production within multiple modernities.

An art installation of doves at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art

Gallery 8: Women in Society

The first gallery of the Mathaf Permanent Collection display includes pivotal works showing the creation of multiple modernities in the context of newly independent countries. The figure of women is central in this gallery as an allegory of freedom in young societies as they move towards more effective independence and autonomy

List of Artworks (PDF)
Collection of artworks in Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art gallery

Gallery 9: Portraits of Changing Societies, Witnessing and Reading Histories

The works in this gallery narrate artist’s perspectives on society throughout modern history and in contemporary times recording family dynamics and marking key moments in industrial progress, politics, and culture.

List of Artworks (PDF)
A Collection of artworks at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art gallery

Gallery 10: New Vocabularies in Post-Independence Contexts

This gallery presents works that experiment with the abstraction of Arabic script as an integral element of art, by artists inventing original visual languages in the newly independent countries of North Africa and the Middle East. Contemporary artists continued exploration of the visual forms of language are also present.

List of Artworks (PDF)
Modern Art at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art

Gallery 11: Mathematics, Mosaics, and Universal Systems of Perception

This gallery brings together historical and contemporary works that see artist’s systematically exploring the volume and density of space through fragmentation, modularity, and repetition in painting and sculpture, expressing perceptions on the intensity of life and enacting ways to make order of the world.

List of Artworks (PDF)
A gallery of modern art at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art

Gallery 12: The Re-invention of Materials

This gallery brings together works by artists with an original visual language that take the materials found in their local context, and the relevance and meaning of these in society as point of departure, while also playing with established art movements such as assemblage and land art.

List of Artworks (PDF)

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