The 475 square meter space of the Barjeel Art Foundation, part of the Maraya Art Center in Sharjah’s Al Qasba area, preserves and exhibits the personal art collection of Sultan Bin Sooud Al Qassemi. Het is a widely known blogger and columnist (for ‘The National’ and incidentally ‘The Huffington Post’), who promulgates independent views on the arts, but also on the political situation of the Middle-East. He is also Managing Director of the Al Saud Company, a Sharjah based construction company, as well as Fellow at the Dubai School of Government and an influential art collector, one of the Emirates’ leading patrons of the arts.
Along with the Sharjah Art Foundation, the Barjeel Foundation is the leading institution in Sharjah in contemporary arts, a proof of the cutting-edge role Sharjah still can play, despite the roles Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha have demanded for themselves in recent years.
From the Barjeel Art Foundation’s website: “Part of [our] objective involves developing a public platform to foster critical dialogue around contemporary art practices with a focus on artists with Arab heritage internationally. The foundation strives to create an open-ended inquiry that responds to and conveys the nuances inherent to Arab histories beyond borders of culture and geography. By hosting in-house exhibitions, lending artwork to international forums, producing print and online publications, and fashioning interactive public programs, the foundation strives to serve as an informative resource for contemporary art by Arab artists both locally and on the global stage.”
In addition to building an informative database of artists, the foundation seeks to develop an educational program that involves the local community. By establishing partnerships with arts and cultural institutions internationally, the foundation looks to create opportunities for encouraging public awareness of the importance of art to the community.
A recent exhibition was ‘Alienation’, including works by Akram Zaatari, Jaffar Khaldi and Lara Sansour.
The Barjeel Foundation regularly organizes debates about art, and on art in relation to socio-political issues.