Lines of Subjectivity: Portrait and Landscape Paintings
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Enquiry into the training and exposure artists from North Africa and West Asia received at the turn of the 20th century, as well as ways in which it impacted their practice and outlook towards representation drove the selection of works for this exhibition. Changing social and political milieu during this time, layered with the artists’ academic backgrounds and travel histories played into the shifting methods and strategies employed to tackle familiar subjects. This exhibition addresses these fluctuations and evolving stances on depiction through arguably two of the most long-established genres in the history of art – that of representing people and places. While certainly not complete or presented as an unbroken developmental continuum, this compilation of work drawn from the collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation demonstrates a number of common directions and highlights milestones and patterns in the evolution of techniques, methodologies, and reasons for depicting bodies and landscapes in changing contexts. From a naturalistic representation of subjects, to the flattening out of space and subsequent experiments with different degrees of abstraction, always coupled with the artists’ subjective observation and understanding of the world, these works reveal the breadth of the spectrum of influences, interests and investigations carried out in the region in the 20th century.