Whilst major art cities such as London boast free museum entry, rarely are exhibitions available for unpaid viewing. However, last week Sharjah Art Foundation showed the world a thing or two by releasing their summer programme, including free entry to a huge range of exhibitions spread throughout the city.
In 1998 Sharjah was named as the ‘Cultural Capital of the Arab World’ by UNESCO, and over two decades later they aren’t disappointing. So head to the cultural capital of UAE this summer, and look at the best art the region has on offer — you’ve spent enough time on the beach, time to be a culture vulture.
When it comes to photography, everyone is raving about Vantage Point Sharjah 7 (VPS7). For the seventh iteration of Sharjah Art Foundation’s annual photography exhibition, they have broadened their horizons with the open call extending beyond UAE and GCC residents to international photographers, engaging with the wider cultural community. As a result, the exhibition features the work of 36 photographers from over 20 countries, including Republic of Congo, France, Nigeria, Sudan, Russia, South Africa and the US. This diverse curation is distinct in the works themselves, which include digital, analogue, montage, archival, light painting and collage photography.
While you’re at Al Mureijah Square checking out the photography exhibition in Galleries 1 and 2, head over to Galleries 4 and 6 to see the multidisciplinary exhibit Surface Tension, featuring the work of Mohammad Al Faraj, Minam Apang, Dale Harding, Mire Lee, Randa Maroufi and Dala Nasser. The work exhibition is a surface unfolding between video and sculpture, using this surface and point-of-contact to establish a dynamic and haptic interface between the art and its surroundings. The artists foreground synthetic materials and formal artifice, in an attempt to deeply engage with their surroundings and explore new dimensions of collective experience.
In Al Hamriyah Studios, one of Sharjah Art Foundation’s off-site venues, you can view the first ever Middle East solo exhibition of British artist Andrew Stahl. Curated by Hoor Al Qasimi, the exhibition will include a selection of Stahl’s large-scale figurative paintings dating back to 1976, as well as a site-specific sculpture, contributing to the larger theme of transcultural interaction that is present in Stahl’s work. Beyond display of his work, Stahl is taking a hands-on approach to his exhibition by leading painting workshops that will be open to the public.