By Faris Bseiso
Over the past decade, identity has dominated both political and cultural discourse in the US. With the new decade at a nascent stage, a former Georgetown instructor looks to use visual art to expand the scope of the identitarian dialogue, starting at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery with “Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s-1980s.” With its diverse array of pioneers on display, and the various schools of abstract art it promotes, the exhibition is an excellent window into the world of Arab art for connoisseurs and diletantes alike.
Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, the founder of the United Arab Emirate’s Barjeel Art Foundation, along with curator Suheyla Takesh, are bringing the foundation’s collection of modern and contemporary Arab art to the US for the first time. The touring exhibition represents a significant step in allowing art from the non-Western world to be presented on its own terms. That artistic ownership is significant given the controversies of how Western museums acquire and keep art from other parts of the world.