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Acclaimed Arab Artist Thuraya Al-Baqsami Unveils Her Lifetime Work At Sharjah Art Museum

Diverse exhibition running from October 11 to December 16 is the largest display of the artist’s work to date.


Sharjah Art Museum opened yesterday a ground-breaking exhibition dedicated to the lifetime career of one of the Arab world's most influential female artists.

The award-winning Kuwaiti artist and writer Thuraya Al-Baqsami unveiled a diverse collection of more than 200 paintings, posters, drawings and illustrations dating back to the 1960s.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Sheikh Mahid bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Director of the Department of Suburbs and Villages Affairs. The opening was attended by Sheikha Nawar Al Qassimi, Development Manager at Sharjah Art Foundation, H.E Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority, artist Thuraya Al Baqsami, and a number of VIP guest.

Running until December 16, Lasting Impressions: Thuraya Al-Baqsami is the eighth edition of Sharjah Art Museum's Lasting Impressions series that pays tribute to the region's most important artists.

The exhibition is the most comprehensive retrospective of the artist's career to date, bringing together works from public and private collections around the world.  It includes pieces being shown publicly for the first time and launches a new book and documentary about her career.  

Many of the contemporary art works reflect Thuraya's experiences of cities including Cairo, Moscow and Dakar, while others showcase her visual interpretation of events that affected the region, including the 1990-91 Gulf War.

"It's a great honour for me to be here in Sharjah to open this exhibition," said Thuraya. "To see my life's work on display is an important moment for me and evokes a wide range of memories dating back to the 1960s when I began my career.

"I hope this exhibition serves to inspire the next generation of young Arab artists to have faith in their abilities, to have the determination to overcome obstacles, and to create art that reflects their experiences and emotions."

Born in Kuwait in 1951, Thuraya Al-Baqsami was one of the first active female artists in the Gulf region when she began publishing short stories and exhibiting her art works as a teenager in the mid-1960s.

She studied fine arts in Cairo, then at the Surikov institute in Moscow where she received a Master's degree in illustration, before completing technical courses in silk painting, batik and ceramics in Dakar, Senegal, in the early 1980s. She then settled in Kuwait where many of her pieces reflected the Gulf region's early modernisation and the vibrant 1980s. 

In the early 1990s, Thuraya lived through the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, which affected her creative output as a collective traumatic experience for her and her family. She was awarded the state prize for her book Cellar Candles (1993) in which she renders her ordeals during the war into poetic fiction. The book has since been translated into more than 10 languages.

Thuraya has held 60 solo exhibitions worldwide and participated in more than 250 collective exhibitions.  Her works are in the collections of the British Museum, UNESCO, the Museum of Human Rights Geneva, and the Kuwait National Museum, among others.

Manal Ataya, Director General of Sharjah Museums Authority, said: "Thuraya is a truly pioneering modern artist who continues her practice today with as much dedication and passion as when she began it.

"This exhibition captures the evolution of the Gulf through one artist's journey and celebrates the achievements of women cultural practitioners in the region. We are confident that it will play an important role in influencing the emerging generation of talented artists."

Lasting Impressions: Thuraya Al-Baqsami is guest-curated by Thuraya's daughter, Monira Al-Qadiri, and runs at Sharjah Art Museum from October 11 to December 16.  

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