Have you spotted the vibrant murals appearing across Doha? That’s JEDARIART!
The arrival of a new year has also marked the arrival of a new wave of colour across the walls of Doha. Vibrant colours have emerged as beacons of energy into the urban environments across Qatar. With splashes of colour against previously plain walls, 18 artists have contributed to the creation of JEDARIART, resulting in murals that will capture your imagination and remain with you long after you see them. So, what is it all about? Read to find out more!
Initiated by the Public Art department from Qatar Museums in partnership with Ashghal, Qatar Rail and Woqod, JEDARIART’s purpose is to activate urban spaces in Doha and create beauty, colour and vigour across the walls of the capital.
The programme seeks to encourage artists to take their murals beyond the walls, enabling a dialogue; a portal of sorts, meditating between the artist’s consciousness and the viewer.
The first of its kind in Qatar, JEDARIART brings 18 artists together to portray their murals. In total, 15 of the cohort are Qatari citizens, while the remaining three are foreign artists based in Doha. In terms of experience and profile, in keeping with the ethos of the programme, they range from beginner to high-level expertise and are invited to demonstrate their artistic expression.
How it works
The format is simple. Artists were given a deadline of ten days to complete their murals. Although the artists were not given a specific category to demonstrate their work due to limiting their artistic expression; themes of JEDARIART includes the encapsulation of Qatar from a political standpoint seen from the Gulf blockade to the rich clothing of the Abaya and Batoola, the surrealist and subconscious mind of the artist, the emphasis and importance of calligraphy, and the quirky yet symbolic representation of a derivative inspiration.
In the first of a two-part series, we meet the artists, understand their inspiration and get a glimpse of what their art means to them, "in their own words”.
Nada Khozestani is a Qatari artist who graduated from marketing in the school of business at Qatar University. Nada has had a deep love and fascination for Qatari culture, deriving her inspiration from the various elements seen in nature to the vast range of saturated colours seen from the day to day life in Qatar. Her latest mural Ladies in Batoola, located in the Fire Station, Nada chose to depict five abstract figures of women wearing the Qatari cultural clothes known as the Abaya and Batoola.
In her own words...
“I was interested in having women and their cultural clothing be the dominant subject matter. The five abstract figures allows every woman in Qatar to feel represented without having to depict a certain central figure. I wish for local viewers to purely enjoy my mural while also relating to it. In addition, I hope to educate tourists and expats on the Qatari cultural clothing that women to this day still tend to wear.”
Noura Al-Mansoori is a Qatari artist who uses surrealist aspects with the addition of mixed media and materials in her work. Her two murals located in the Fire Station entitled Shroomy Ladybug and The Cool Dove demonstrate minimal elements of nature that one tends to ignore or takes for granted. Noura’s work tends to take interests in subjects that push the boundaries of what is considered “normative” in Qatar.
In her own words...
“My work Shroomy Ladybug depicts a ladybug as it symbolises luck while the mushrooms symbolises magic and power, therefore manifesting into a wondrous life. However, no one would expect to have a ladybug mural depicted on a wall (at least not in Qatar), and I love depicting subject matters that are shocking yet disturbing at the same time. I want people to react to my work rather than merely stare at it in blankness.”
Abdulla Al-Emadi is a Qatari self-taught artist who draws his inspiration from manuscript illustrations, mythologies, and various surrealist movements. His mural Limbo is located in Al-Abraj park depicting a figure that seems to be trapped inside a box. Throughout the mural, Abdulla incorporates a warm blue colour palette, while adding splashes of vibrant colours to depict symbolic imagery as a way to enhance surrealist tension. Deriving his inspiration from COVID-19 pandemic, Abdulla wished to project his emotion and mental state during that time.
In his own words...
“I wanted to depict my mental state, the aura, and the life around myself during quarantine, being trapped [inside a box], alone and isolated. When people see my work, I wish to spark their imagination and leave a lingering effect. My work is interpretive due to its surrealist and symbolic imagery and I believe everyone should derive their own meaning out of it.”
Haifa Al-Khuzaei is a Qatari artist whose contribution to JEDARIART consists of a depiction of two animals caught in a fleeting moment, a horse and an eagle set upon a turquoise lined background. Both animals symbolically and metaphorically represent the force and power of Qatar during and after the Gulf blockade that occurred in 2017. The burgundy horse symbolically represents strength in moving forward, while the white falcon suggests how Qatar is soaring high, both colours representing Qatar's flag.
In her own words…
“The gulf blockade really gave me the power to represent how, even though the blockade might have affected Qatar with other its neighboring Gulf countries, Qatar is still striving towards a better and more positive future. Although the message of the mural might be clear, I’m interested in knowing how other people might interpret my work.”
Maryam Al-Maadhadi is a Qatari artist whose contribution in JEDARIART consists of a mural entitled We Feel Safe in Qatar, drawing inspiration from the culture and nature of Qatar. Her work represents a series of post stamps, such as one including Qatari figures, both men and women on adjoining side and front profiles. An arch connects the two sides of the stamp, suggesting a harmony and peace, living inside a utopian bubble. Located in the Post Office Park, the mural plays an even more significant dialogue to its location.
In her own words...
“I approached JEDARIART with a variety of things in mind. Firstly, I wanted to give audiences a message that highlights how fortunate we are to live in a safe environment while at the same time paying homage to our historical culture. This is something we are incredibly proud of and JEDARIART provided me the opportunity to express this publicly.”
Fatima Al-Sharshani is a Qatari calligrapher who has been honing her artistic penmanship for the past several years. Her work for JEDARIART depicts a roundel golden circle with the inclusion of Arabic calligraphy taken from the poetry of Sheikh Jassim bin Mohammed Al-Thani, founder of Qatar. Using the colour gold as to represent Al Noor (brightness), the mural is set in a highly significant place in the Post Office Park, creating a dialogue for the main headquarters of the Post Office in Qatar, and the works embodiment of a seal-like envelope stamp.
In her own words...
“I wanted to remind people of the beauty of the Arabic calligraphy, since it seems to be forgotten about/unrepresented in Qatar. Most works in Qatar seems to use specific figures to represent their idea, and I really wanted to embody calligraphy and how it's relevant to not only murals, but the art world.’’
Mubarak Al-Malik is a Qatari artist who has participated and represented his country in many internal and external events. Although some of Mubarak's other work ascertain certain political elements, his work located in Al-Abraj park is purely made for the sense of enjoyment due to its playful colours and cultural subject matter. His work depicts a Qatari woman wearing a batoola, while holding a mubkhar, a traditional Arabian style incense burner; smoke billowing out of it as to welcome guests. Red roses are embedded throughout the work, swifting alongside the smoke, symbolising love. A similar style noir mural of his work could also be seen in the Fire Station.
In his own words...
“I used to travel to countries throughout Europe and America, seeing how artists incorporate graffiti into their work to represent their country and cultural identity to the art scene. I therefore asked myself, why not use the medium and represent parts of the Qatari culture? I believe that murals are important to be placed on the streets of Qatar so every individual passing by can view it.”
Abdulaziz Yousef Ahmed
Abdulaziz Yousef Ahmed is an artist who, with 12 years of work experience, has developed his very own distinctive style to represent and share his story with the world. His mural for JEDARIART depicts a woman's semi side profile abaya alongside the traditional batoola mask on her face, emphasising the mundane tasks of a woman within a household such as answering doors and welcoming guests. Although Abdulaziz has been following the cultural theme of Qatar for quite some time, he was inspired to push himself in striving towards minimalism and abstraction within his work.
In his own words…
“I wish to find minimalism and express the meditation and simplicity of the Qatari culture since the culture was/in fact a very simple and minimal time. Furthermore, I want people to enjoy viewing my mural and understand the simplicity of who we are in the Qatari culture which is emphasised by the simplicity and grey scale colours of my mural.”
Michael Perrone (assisted by: Salma Awad, Teslim Sanni, Amna Al Muftah, Maha Nasr, Alice Aslem, Parthivan K.)
Michael Perone is an American artist and professor of painting and printmaking at VCUarts Qatar. His work in JEDARIART includes an abstract piece inspired by his home in Vermont from 1906, where he was able to trace lines from broken walls and connect them with one another through his paintbrush. With the pandemic taking a toll and being separated from Qatar, Michael emphasises the use of lines to connect both of his lives, the one in Qatar and the other in Vermont, bridging gaps of what's far and near.
In his own words...
“The mural was originally going to use a muted and dark colour palette, however, I decided to change them to a much lighter and playful tone; due to its location next to Dohas Festival City, resulting in a dialogue between the mall's vibrant life as well as Dohas urban living. Although my work is interpretive, it is also a piece that is celebratory and joyful, and I really hope people see that. I would like to thank the wonderful VCUarts students who assisted me in this work.”