We asked special guests to choose a student whose work must be highlighted, whose talents they want to share with the world and whose names we’ll all soon know in Qatar.
Discover curator and photographer Khalifa Al Obaidly's pick!
“O humanity! Be mindful of your Lord Who created you from a single soul, and from it He created its mate, and through both He spread countless men and women. And be mindful of Allah – in Whose Name you appeal to one another – and honour family ties. Surely Allah is ever Watchful over you.” (4:1)
Activist and a conceptual Qatari artist based in Doha. My practice is derived from concepts revolving around social injustice issues, and the relationship between art and politics, Islamophobia, racism, tribalism, and identity. As discrimination has affected me personally growing up as a Qatari with a Yemeni background. I lead an experimental approach to my studio practice, as a conceptual artist. I produce paintings, prints, sound, and videos.
Khalifa Al Obaidly
Khalifa Al Obaidly originally studied marine biology at the University of Qatar and has a Masters in Business Administration from HEC. Underwater photography was one of his earliest formative experiences with the medium.
Since 2002, Al Obaidly has concentrated on Qatari tradition and culture through the twin themes of desert and sea, seeking to convey through his photography the importance of the traditional wooden boats, called Dhows, as reflections of Qatari history and bearers of the spirits of Qatari culture and the soul of the pearl divers.
In addition to his own photography work, Al Obaidly has worked at a number of science and art museums, including the Aquarium at the Qatar National Museum, working on a project to construct a museum of photography and build the its collection; and was Assistant Director at the Islamic Art Museum project during the construction through the chairperson office of Qatar National Council for Culture, Art and Heritage.
Al Obaidly is also involved with many Qatari heritage programs and initiatives, as well as leading the establishment of the Msheireb Art Centre, an old girls school in the heart of Doha that was restored and converted into the art center. He also established the “Found Objects Project” (Echo Memory or Sadda AL Thekraiat) which seeks to create art from found objects for the Heart of Doha Project, which drove the building of the four museums in Mshereib (Jalmod House, Company House, Radwany House and MBJ House). Most recently, Khalifa led the Fire Station (Matafi – Artist in residence) from 2016 and developed the artist in residence program, as well as other programs, to develop the art scene in Qatar and help connect artists with the international art sector.
At the moment he is director of Tasweer Photography Festival, a new department Al Obaidly creating under QM to celebrate young Arab artists in the region, and support their voices and thoughts in the fields of photography and art, as well as Director of Artist in Residence ‘Fire Station.’
About the Selected Project
It’s unusual to pass by artwork and to feel your soul caught in such a way. That’s what happened to me when I saw Khawla Al Kabari’s photographs of her project, especially when we have been working in an unusually isolated environment because of the pandemic. Maybe the isolation and concentration lead to greater creativity and more amazing work?
I like the strong composition in the photos and the heavy black spaces many photographers avoid, but in this case, it is supporting the concept that each artwork leaves the right space to show what she wants to discuss through her photographs. Using bottles of the same size and shape and then lining them up, side by side, to express the equalization among a community of many ethnicities. The transparency of the glasses reflects what people are thinking.
A vibrant community of artists, scholars, and students are brought together within VCUart Qatar’s four-year BFA Painting and Printmaking program. The curriculum is informed by a practice of studio work and research with a strong emphasis on critical and creative thinking, and is designed to impart technical skills and intelligence to build the students’ confidence in their discipline.
We encourage our graduates not to just find opportunities, but to create them. Not just to seek answers, but to dare to ask questions. And not simply to understand the world, but to seek to change it. We believe this year’s graduates will do this and more, playing a significant role in shaping the cultural landscape of Qatar and beyond.
Dr. Aissa Deebi, Director
Dr. Bahaa Abudaya, Khalifa Al Obaidly, Brynn Higgins-Stirrup, Rola Khayyat, Michael Perrone, Peter Welz and Abir Zakzok
Aissa Deebi, Department Director
The poem Candlelight, by the Syrian poet Adonis, springs to mind when I look at Khawla Al-Akbari’s work. As he writes, ‘and don’t you see what we call reality is nothing but skin that crumbles as soon as you touch it and begins to reveal what hides under it: that other reality where the human being is the poetry of the universe.’ Khawla creates a dimly lit world, where this ‘darkness, this secret light can pull you from the shadows into the deep roots of culture to understandings that have been overlain.’ Digging into the essence of what photography is, painting with light, in Khawla’s work, it becomes possible to ‘speak of the darkness of light’.
The RAW Talent