Zulfa Saadi

Parallel Histories

  • Sharjah Art Museum

Drawn from the collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation, artworks in the exhibition reflect the manifold ways in which artists in the Arab world have responded to socio-political events and the human condition across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. While the multiple histories and experiences encapsulated by works on display were often separated by geography, political climate, national borders, personal circumstance, and various conditions of life, they—like parallels—ran alongside one another, replacing each other with time, and forming a kaleidoscopic fabric of both synchronous and changing events. In offering a broad look at the region’s highly varied artistic milieu, this exhibition brings together a plurality of art schools, movements, and figures whose histories have, and continue to coexist side by side. It also calls attention to subjects that remain pertinent for artists in the present-day, mirroring concerns of their peers in the early to mid-twentieth century, including reinterpretations of regional craft, questions of identity, experiences of migrant communities, labour concerns, and changing political structures. In presenting a multiplicity of voices and praxis that emerged from the region and its diasporas in a shared space, the display offers an opportunity to explore the heterogeneity of regional art, and invites visitors to (re)consider the reading of the Arab world’s past and present.