press release

Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s
May 12–June 13, 2021

The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College and the Barjeel Art Foundation are pleased to announce that the touring exhibition Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s will be open to the public by appointment only, from May 12 to June 13, 2021 (Wednesday–Sunday, 10am–5pm EST).

Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s explores the development of abstraction in the Arab world via paintings, sculpture, and works on paper dating from the 1950s through the 1980s. By looking critically at the history and historiography of mid-twentieth-century abstraction, the exhibition considers art from North Africa and West Asia as integral to the discourse on global modernism. Examining how and why artists investigated the expressive capacities of line, color, and texture, Taking Shape foregrounds a number of abstract movements that developed in the region at a time when individual artists and artist collectives grappled with questions of authenticity, national and regional identity, and the decolonization of culture.

Drawn from the collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation based in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, the exhibition features nearly ninety works by a diverse group of artists from countries including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and the UAE.

Participating artists
Chafic Abboud, Hamed Abdalla, Yvette Achkar, Etel Adnan, Maliheh Afnan, Malika Agueznay, Shakir Hassan Al Said, Dia Azzawi, Ezequiel Baroukh, Farid Belkahia, Néjib Belkhodja, Fouad Bellamine, Abdallah Benanteur, Kamal Boullata, Huguette Caland, Mohamed Chebaa, Ahmed Cherkaoui, Saloua Raouda Choucair, Saliba Douaihy, Muhanna Durra, Simone Fattal, Asma Fayoumi, Abdel Hadi el-Gazzar, Jilali Gharbaoui, Samia Halaby, Mohammed Hamidi, Menhat Helmy, Adam Henein, Jafar Islah, Ibrahim Ismail, Saadi al-Kaabi, Munira al-Kazi, Mohammed Khadda, Helen Khal, Rachid Koraïchi, Miloud Labied, Hussein Madi, Najat Makki, Seta Manoukian, Mohamed Melehi, Omar El Nagdi, Nabil Nahas, Rafa Nasiri, Hind Nasser, Samir Rafi, Aref El Rayess, Ufemia Rizk, Mahmoud Sabri, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Juliana Seraphim, Hassan Sharif, Hussein Shariffe, Ahmad Shibrain, Madiha Umar, Wijdan, Ramses Younan, Jassim Zaini, Afaf Zurayk.

The exhibition is curated by Suheyla Takesh, Curator at the Barjeel Art Foundation, and Lynn Gumpert, Director of the Grey Art Gallery at New York University, and was on view at the Grey Art Gallery between January 14–March 13, 2020.