InTransit Talk: The Gulf Abstracted

One of Kuwait’s most prolific artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, Jafar Islah is best known for his abstract drawings and paintings, although he also works in sculpture and tapestry. A citizen of the world, he has lived and worked between Kuwait, Denmark, Egypt, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Turkey and the US. For this new series of InTransit Talks at Jameel Arts Centre, Jafar is invited to discuss his practice, and abstract art in the Gulf, by the eminent patron and commentator, Sultan Sooud AlQassemi, founder of Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah, and a World Fellow at Yale University, USA.

Using symbols, imagery and references from a variety of cultures, Jafar Islah’s revolutionary oeuvre does not conform to any specific style, medium or ideological-based practice. Islah received his BA degree from the University of California at Berkeley and has exhibited widely, including at the Kuwait National Museum, the Cairo Biennale, and the Egyptian Academy in Rome. Most recently, he had a large, solo retrospective at Contemporary Art Platform in Kuwait (2012).

Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi is a United Arab Emirates-based columnist and researcher on social, political and cultural affairs in the Arab Gulf States. In 2018 Sultan ranked 19th on the “Arabic Thought Leader Index” by Swiss think tank Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute. Sultan was an MIT Media Lab Director’s Fellow from 2014-2016, and in the spring of 2017 he was a practitioner in residence at the Hagop Kevorkian Center of Near East Studies at New York University, where he offered a special course on Politics of Middle Eastern Art. Sultan is currently conducting research for a book that documents the modern architecture of the city of Sharjah in the UAE. In 2010 Sultan established the Barjeel Art Foundation that aims to contribute to the intellectual development of the art scene in the Arab region by building an extensive and publicly accessible art collection. In 2018, 100 works from the collection were hosted on a long-term basis at the Sharjah Art Museum.

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