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Captivating retrospective exhibition on Emirati artist Abdul Qader Al Rais to launch in Abu Dhabi

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) has announced a compelling major retrospective of the work by the celebrated Emirati painter Abdul Qader Al Rais, which will be unveiled on 20th December 2018, showcasing his works from the late 1960s up until the present day.


Titled, Abdul Qader Al Rais: 50 Years of Art, the exhibition brings together a survey and an evolution of Abdul Qader Al Rais’ career from his early figurative paintings to his most recent and recognisable series of calligraphic abstraction. Born in 1951, Abdul Qader Al Rais is regarded as one of the most celebrated and influential Emirati artists working today, with works spanning from the late 1960s. He was a pioneering artist who helped shape the language of painting in the United Arab Emirates. Al Rais’ self-taught practice encompasses oil, acrylic and watercolour. This retrospective is the first of its scale in the UAE for the artist. It intends to bring together the full range of concepts and techniques featured in his work that have rarely been seen before.

The exhibition will feature a comprehensive display of more than 70 paintings of the artist’s practice, including some previously unseen pieces from regional private and public collections. Abdul Qader Al Rais’ practice takes in a multitude of themes which will be shown throughout this exhibition. From documenting the traditional legacy of the UAE and the political and social history of the Arab region to interpreting the conceptual nature of Arabic letters.

Through the six thematic sections within the exhibition, ‘Early Figures’, ‘Home’, ‘Earth& Sky’, ‘People& Time’, ‘Impressions & Abstractions’, and ‘Hurufiyyat’, it hopes to offer a fresh and balanced perspective of Al Rais’ career as a whole with accompanying sketches and archival material. It will also include a publication of academic essays and artist interviews with guest writers such as Sultan Sooud Al Qassimi, Dr. Youssef Aidabi and Ali Al Abdan. The exhibition will also run a programme of educational workshops, exclusive Artist Masterclass and a unique youth activity guide for young exhibition visitors.

Visitors will also be taken on a visual immersive journey to experience Al Rais’ work in a new dimension as his paintings are digitally rendered to create a captivating immersive installation to conclude the exhibition.

The exhibition, which is taking place from 20th December 2018 to 23rd March 2019 at Manarat Al Saadiyat, has been co-curated by Maisa Al Qassimi, Senior Project Manager, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi and Sara bin Safwan, Assistant Curator, Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi.

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