Qatar: Exploring The Desert Of Infinity
The eagerly awaited opening of foe NATIONAL MUSEUM OF QATAR will add yet another iconic tour de force to Doha’s skyline and the wider architectural world. Designed by feted French architect Jean Nouvel, the museum features a complex set of random interlocking discs, emulating and representing the desert rose. The National Museum joins a fine stable of galleries under the aegis of Qatar Museums. Among them is the MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART (MIA), a must-see – both from an architectural point of view, and for its remarkable collections of artefacts spanning 14 centuries. In the park outside, the Richard Serra installation 7 is a heptagonal arrangement of 80-foot steel plates that reflects the design of minarets and the repeated use of the number seven in Islamic doctrine.
There is also MATHAF: ARAB MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, and AL RIWAQ, which has hosted exhibitions by renowned modern artists such as Damien Hirst. You can also see Hirst’s Miraculous Journey, a series of bronzes depicting the development of human life, outside the SIDRA MEDICAL AND RESEARCH CENTRE, while across the country in the Brouq Nature Reserve, Serra’s EAST-WEST/WEST-EAST, a geometrical line of towering steel plates, rises from the desert like the remnant icons of some long-lost civilisation. Indeed, the works of famous contemporary artists abound in Qatar. On arrival alHAMAD INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, you cannot miss Urs Fischer’s Lamp Bear, a giant teddy that dominates the concourse in departures, and a collection of bronze oryxes by Dutch sculptor Tom Claassen.
Visitors to QATAR NATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE can stand beneath the giant legs of Maman, a huge spider sculpted by Louise Bourgeois, while the 24-foot-high black geometric sculpture Smoke by the late Tony Smith can be found outside the DOHA EXHIBITION AND CONVENTION CENTRE near City Centre mall. Elsewhere you can find public installations by Iraqi Ahmed Al Bahrani, British artist Sarah Lucas, Indian artist Subodh Gupta, more from American sculptor Tony Smith and work by Italian Lorenzo Quinn, whose sculpture Force of Nature H forms the stunning focal point for the extraordinarily beautiful amphitheatre at the KATARA CULTURAL VILLAGE. The quality and multiculturalism of Qatar’s art scene makes it essential viewing for aficionados of ancient and modern art alike.