Anew research partnership between Dubai think tank Fiker Institute and the Barjeel Art Foundation is shining a light on female Arab artists and their social, political and cultural contributions to their respective countries and the wider region.
Titled Written Portraits: Arab Women, Art & History, the collaboration has been written by female Arab researchers.
Four research essays will be published across the month, each focusing on a female Arab artist’s life and work. The regional artists explored are Munira Al Kazi, Helen Khal, Samia Osseiran Junblat and Nadia Saikali. They have been profiled by Aseel AlYaqoub, Lara Arafeh, Maie El-Hage and Juliana Khalaf Salhab respectively.
By retracing their lives and legacies, the essays aim to advance knowledge on the nature of regional art institutions and artistic creation, with regard to mediums and themes, across different points in Arab history.
“There is an urgency in documenting the life and times of modern Arab women artists, as there is a dearth of information of some of the leading figures of the era,” said Sultan Al Qassemi, founder of Barjeel Art Foundation.
“It is imperative that the region’s history is written by people from and of this region who understand the language and the culture and are able to articulate the meanings behind these artistic creations.”
For the past few years, Barjeel Art Foundation has made it its mission to highlight female artists especially from the region.
At its continuing show Parallel Histories at the Sharjah Art Museum, for example, nearly 70 works, or 56 per cent of the exhibition, are by women. Many of the women featured, despite having produced works on par in both style and substance to their more celebrated male contemporaries, have long been overlooked.
“Promoting Arab thought leadership globally sits at the core of our work at Fiker Institute,” said founder Dubai Abulhoul. “Our partnership with Barjeel Art Foundation marks a significant milestone in the advancement of our research priorities on this front.”