The exhibition Portrait of a Nation offers a glimpse into the creative practices of 50 contemporary artists from the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Visitors are invited to explore the country through the individual perspectives of the participating artists who call it home. The exhibition is divided into seven themed rooms: Nation & Unity, Geography & Nature, Architecture & Urbanism, Portraiture & Identity, Religion & Spirituality, Language & Calligraphy, and Tradition & Heritage.
Founded in 1971 the UAE is today home to some 200 nationalities. The exhibition offers a rare glimpse into its little-known history and diversity while considering significant contemporary questions of heritage and identity. Against a backdrop of rapid development and globalisation, the works explore complex ideas of modern nationhood, visiting urban and rural landscapes and examining major issues of unity, spirituality, and language. Tracing the nation’s shifting identity, the exhibition includes 20 specially commissioned works by emerging and established artists. These new reflections are contextualised by seminal pieces dating back to the birth of the country. Three generations of renowned Emirati artists are presented; from Hassan Sharif and his atelier students to younger artists. The exhibition presents a variety of mediums: sculpture, photography, land art, painting, textiles, video, scenography, and new takes on traditional crafts. One of the largest exhibitions of Emirati art, Portrait of a Nation opened in Abu Dhabi in 2016. Now staged abroad for the first time, it prompts urgent and globally relevant questions on identity and exchange in the 21st century.
Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF)
The exhibition features works from the collection of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), among the oldest, non-profit cultural organisations in the Arabian Gulf and organiser of the Abu Dhabi Festival. Founded in 1996, ADMAF has pioneered new artistic practices over the last 20 years, seeking to deepen global cross-cultural dialogue and inspire a renewed interest in the creativity of the UAE and the wider Arab region.
Ebtisam Abdul Aziz, Ali Al Abdan, Zayed Al Absi, Sarah Al Agroobi, Sarah Al Ahbabi, Ahmed Saeed Al Areef Al Dhaheri, Mohammed Al Astad, Ammar Al Attar, Jassim Al Awadi, Khalid Al Banna, Amna Al Dabbagh, Shamsa Al Dhaheri, Abdul Aziz Al Fadli, Ahmed Al Faresi, Reem Al Ghaith, Yousif Al Harmoudi, Eman Al Hashemi, Zeinab Al Hashemi, Khuloud Al Jabri, Saeed Al Madani, Fatema Al Mazrouie, Mohammed Al Mazrouie, Sheikha Alyazia Bint Nahyan Al Nahyan, Omran Al Owais, Mohammed Al Qassab, Azza Al Qubaisi, Abdul Qader Al Rais, Sumaya Al Rais, Hamdan Buti Al Shamsi, Karima Al Shomely, Architecture + Other Things, Hind Bin Demaithan, Maitha Demithan, Afra Bin Dhaher, Lamya Gargash, Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim, Aisha Juma, Layla Juma, Mohammed Kazem, Fatma Lootah, Najat Makki, Lateefa Bint Maktoum, Mohammed Mandi, Khalid Mezaina, Salama Nasib, Abdul Rahim Salem, Khalid Shafar, Hassan Sharif, Hussein Sharif, Obaid Suroor, Khalil Abdul Wahid
13.09., 1-6 pm: ‘Meet the Artists’: Meet over 25 of the featured Emirati artists and listen to their stories in a series of one-on-one conversations.
16.09., 4-5 pm: Talk with Huda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF), Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival. Moderated by Nicola Graef.
30.09., 4-7 pm: Film Day ‘UAE on Screen’ with ‘Father’s Grant’ by Ahmed Zain, ‘Nearby Sky’ by Nujoom Al Ghanem, ‘The Art of Nature’, an ADMAF film to accompany the Abu Dhabi Festival’s 2017 Exhibition.
05.10., 7-8.30 pm: Panel Discussion ‘Emirati Identity, Emirati Creativity’ with featured artists Zeinab Al Hashemi and Amna Al Dabbagh, as well as the world’s first Emirati spoken word artist Afra Atiq. Moderated by Arsalan Mohammed.
19.10., 7-9 pm: Talk & Performance by the artist Karima Al Shomely, who speaks about her research into the Emirati burqa, followed by a live performance. Moderated by Arsalan Mohammed.
26.10., 7-8.30 pm: Talk ‘50 Years of Transformation’ with Dr Frauke Heard-Bey, author and historian, David Heard, petroleum engineer. Moderated by Monika Krauss.
Educational programme for school groups & students
14.09.: Workshop with featured artist Sarah Al Agroobi
14.09.: Presentation with featured artist Saeed Al Madani
15.09.: Workshop with featured artist Azza Al Qubaisi
06.10.: Workshop with featured artist Zeinab Al Hashemi
07.10.: Workshop with featured artist Amna Al Dabbagh
08.10.: Workshop with the first Emirati spoken word artist Afra Atiq
20.10.: Workshop with featured artist Karima Al Shomely