10 Examples of Exceptional Public Art in Doha, Courtesy Qatar Museums
The rapid development of both economy and culture is quite notable in Qatar, which perhaps one of the most prosperous Arab states.
One of the leading art institutions is the Qatar Museum focused on covering cultural heritage, public art, and contemporary art practices. Their apparent aim is broadening of cultural horizons based on diverse and innovative approaches. One of their leading projects is Public Arts Project which gathered works some of the most important artists in the world. The chairperson of Qatar Museums is her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani who stated:
Through displaying various forms of art in public space, we aim to inspire local talent and establish an organic connection between art and the local community.
Therefore, it can be said that not only the aim of this project but the general agenda of this institution is to become a global leader in the context of museums, heritage, and contemporary art.
Below you can read about the inspiring and outstanding works which have been released by Qatar Museums within the Public Arts projects.
Featured image: Richard Serra – 7, 2011, Museum of Islamic Art Park. Courtesy of Qatar Museums Doha.
Richard Serra - 7
Richard Serra is without the doubt one of the most prolific artists known for his large-scale installations in public space. The artist’s activity is related to Minimal Art, as well as the Process Art Movement.
This work is embedded in the symbolical meaning of the number seven in Islamic culture, so the very structure consists of seven steel plates. It is centered in the voluptuous landscape rounded by the sea.
The curiosity is that this imposing landmark, which is over 24 meters high, is the tallest one Serra has ever made, and the first installation he has done in the Middle East.
Featured images: Richard Serra – 7, 2011. Courtesy of Qatar Museum.
Richard Serra - East-West/West-East
The second installation Serra released within the mentioned project is actually a land art/sculptural intervention. It is consists of four steel plates, each of them fourteen meters high, which are located in a Brouq Nature Reserve.
The sense of timelessness and some sort of mystery reminiscent of ancient cities surround the site. Regardless of the distance between the plates, all of them can be perceived as a whole and investigated from each end of the site.
Richard Serra Unveils Sculpture in Qatar Desert
Featured images: Richard Serra – East-West/West-East, 2014. Courtesy of Qatar Museums.
Subodh Gupta - Gandhi's Three Monkeys
This astounding piece released by Subodh Gupta, one of the most prominent contemporary artists from India, is located in Katara, Doha’s cultural village.
The artist is known for using everyday metal object (especially thin boxes), as a primary material for construction of his works, which is apparent in this piece as well.
With heads wearing military gear, Gupta wanted to raise awareness on the horridness of the warfare, by appropriating famous Gandhi’s metaphor of the three monkeys which see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
Featured images: Subodh Gupta – Gandhi’s Three Monkeys. Courtesy of Qatar Museum.
Tony Smith - Smoke
One of the pioneers of American Minimalist sculpture, Tony Smith has released the piece Smoke in 1967, and it is the only sculpture he has made for the public space.
The massive and abstract composition spans through space and provides the viewer at the same time with the feeling of fascination and a certain dose of freight. The artist was eager to express his intimate interest in organic shapes such are honeycombs or crystals.
Another version of the same stands in Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Interestingly so, due to the huge popularity after the reveal, the Time magazine did the coverage on sculpture.
Featured images: Tony Smith – Smoke. Courtesy of Qatar Museum.
Damien Hirst - The Miraculous Journey
This series of bronze sculptures by Damian Hirst was built in the period between 2005 and 2013 and is located in front of Qatar’s medical facility The Sidra Medical and Research Center. It consists of fourteen pieces which range in height.
The artist is known for focusing on the omnipresent theme of death, so this particular project was based on the idea to create something monumental, whilst essentially human, in order to articulate the processes of human birth and decay.
The production process is a fascinating one, since this constellation took more than three years to be fabricated.
Featured image: Damian Hirst – The Miraculous Journey. Photo credit: Nadine Al Koudsi. Courtesy of Qatar Museum.
Calligraffiti by eL Seed
El Seed< is one of the most progressive graffiti artists from France. His career began in the late 90s, but after the move to America, he started incorporating Arabic calligraphy in combination with contemporary graffiti manner.
That is how the name Calligraffiti was born.
For this project, eL Seed was commissioned to intervene in the underground tunnels of the Salwa Road. Fifty-two large-scale murals which were made represent various motifs from Qatari cultural heritage, and that was followed by the artist’s workshop for students, presentations, and panels.
Featured images: eL Seed – Salwa Road Project. Courtesy of Qatar Museum.
Louise Bourgeois - Maman
The following work is the iconic sculpture of Louise Bourgeois, one of the most important artists of the 20th century.
Known for provocative practice interwoven out of autobiographical notes, this artists mainly deals with the subjects of estrangement, loneliness and woman body.
This particular sculpture of a giant spider is reflecting the ambiguity of the animal – both the beauty and its ugliness. It is located in Qatar’s National Convention Centre and devoted, as the title suggests, to the artist’s mother who was a French weaver.
Featured images: Louise Bourgeois – Maman. Courtesy of Qatar Museum.
Sarah Lucas - Perceval
As one of the representatives of the celebrated Young British Artists, Sarah Lucas has managed to become an established artist by her critical articulation of the popular culture.
This work of hers, which is located in the largest park in Qatar, is an actual horse pulling a cart caring two squash. It is made of bronze and it represents the artist’s interest in working with various cultural contexts.
The very name of the sculpture Percival recalls the King Arthur’s legendary Knights of the Round Table.
Featured images: Sarah Lucas – Perceval. Courtesy of Qatar Museum.
Urs Fischer - Lamp Bear
Swiss artist Urs Fischer has released large-scale installation of humorous title Lamp Bear. The artist is known for decontextualizing various aspects of traditional art by incorporating references from popular culture and using everyday objects.
This piece is located in the central foyer of a duty-free zone at the Haman International airport. The teddy is made of bronze and sits inside the lamp, so the whole composition suggests the importance of early childhood memories respectively of childhood innocence.
Featured image: Urs Fischer – Lamp Bear. Courtesy of Qatar Museum.
Marc Quinn - The Nurseries of El Dorado
Besides the mentioned representatives of Young British Artists (Damian Hirst and Sarah Lucas) is no other than the acclaimed artist Marc Quinn.
His extensive sculptures and installations reflect the artists decisiveness and a need for a shock. The mythical worlds, hybrids, bloody casts, are just some of the motifs in his work.
The sculpture of peculiar title The Nurseries of El Dorado is a really good example of Quinn’s practice; it represents a large floral composition made of different hybrid species.
Featured image: Marc Quinn – The Nurseries of El Dorado. Courtesy of Qatar Museum.