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Art Sneak Peek

Sneak Peek: Kuwait National Museum

In May 1960, an international competition was held for the architectural project for the Kuwait National Museum which would be located in the cultural district of the 1952 Master Plan of Kuwait. The competition was won by French architect Michel Écochard and the museum was finally opened in 1983 where it stayed open up until the 1990 invasion. The museum was badly damaged during the war and most of the buildings remained closed (some photos of the destruction here). There were talks at one point of demolishing the museum and building a new one but thankfully in 2014, it was decided to save the existing museum by restoring it.

The restoration project is now complete and the museum is currently in the process of getting ready to reopen. I got invited to a sneak peek of the museum, something that I’ve been wanting for years. I was lucky enough to visit the museum back in the 80s, and although I don’t remember much of it, I do appreciate the fact that they decided to restore the landmark building instead of demolishing it as is the case most of the time.

The Kuwait National Museum is part of the Qibla Cultural District (Google Maps) which includes the Sadu House, the National Library, and Al-Qibla School for Girls Education. The main museum complex comprises of four buildings each housing a different part of Kuwait’s history:

Building 1 – Archeology of Kuwait
Building 2 – Ethnographic History of Kuwait
Building 3 – Ancient East
Building 4 – Ancient East

Buildings 1 and 2 are already open while buildings 3 and 4 are the ones heavily damaged during the war and the ones I got to tour. Buildings 3 and 4 are the largest buildings and will cover art in the Ancient East starting in the 3rd millennium BC going through Arabia before Islam, then the beginning of Islam, followed by the full chronology of Islamic Art.

All four buildings are connected by closed bridges. This means once you enter a building you can navigate the whole museum without stepping outside making it very convenient during the hot summer months.

Minor changes were made to the structure of the buildings, large semi-opaque windows were installed to bring in more daylight, and some minor new stairs and walkways were added due to updated fire safety requirements. All the work looked very tasteful and well-executed although I do wish they had kept the original pink brick facade.

There is also a planetarium outside the museum which you’ve most likely seen driving by on the Gulf Road since it’s the building closest to the road and its round spherical shape is hard to miss.

The planetarium is also in the final stages of renovation and will be reopening soon.

As I mentioned early on in the post, buildings3 and 4 of the museum are currently in the process of getting ready to reopen. They’re expecting that would happen in two years’ time, around 2024. In the meantime, buildings 1 and 2 are open and you can visit those now, here is my previous post about them. Link

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Art

Kuwaiti Girl and her Lamb, Gulf War in 8-bit

Pixel artist Comet Confetti yesterday posted a really great 8-bit art recreation of the famous photo of a Kuwaiti girl and her lamb taken right after the Gulf War. If you’re into 8-bit art like me then you should check out her instagram account for more of her work @cometconfetti

On a side note, what’s the story behind the picture? I couldn’t find anything about it online and I’m guessing the girl in the photo is around 40 years old now. I wonder where she is?

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Art Shopping

Mogahwi Shuwaikh

Over the past couple of years, Mogahwi have really turned things around. At one point they looked like they were closing down after shuttering their Salmiya and Shuwaikh locations but instead, they restructured and came back a lot stronger. Their Kuwait City location got a major facelift and now they’ve reopened their Shuwaikh location.

Mogahwi in Shuwaikh used to be pretty huge, I think it was their main branch/head office. They ended up closing that location down, demolishing the whole building, and constructing a much nicer plaza in its place called MogArt. Now they’ve reopened a smaller Mogahwi there focusing mainly on art supplies.

It’s a small but really nice looking store and the items seem to have been curated, kinda like the best of the best art supplies. If you want to check it out, here is their location on Google Maps.

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Art

Exhibition: Face to Face II

The Contemporary Art Platform is celebrating its 10 year anniversary with a new exhibition called Face to Face II.

The exhibition features artworks loaned from some of Kuwait’s prominent art collectors and includes artworks by Amine El Bacha, Andy Warhol, Banksy, George Bahgoury, Kimiko Yoshida, Picasso, Yayoi Kusama, and much more.

CAP is open Saturday to Thursay from 10AM to 8PM. Here is their location on Google Maps.

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Art Information Things to do

Amricani Cultural Centre Museum

If you’re looking for something to do this weekend you should consider passing by the Amricani Cultural Centre and check out their museum. Amricani is part of the Dar al Athar al Islamiyyah who have a collection of more than 20,000 items of rare Islamic art. Some of these rare items are displayed at the Amricani in rotation, changing every couple of years.

The exhibition area is located on the top floor and spans countless rooms, a lot bigger then you would expect it to be. You can choose to book a tour or just walk in and explore by yourself.

Here are their timings:

Monday to Thursday and Saturday: 10 AM to 7 PM
Friday: 2 PM to 7 PM
Sunday: closed

If you want to book a tour, send an email to both: [email protected] and [email protected]

Here is the location of the Amricani Cultural Center on Google Maps.

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Art

Exhibition: Hella Paragraphs

If you’re looking for a new exhibition to check out, the popular lifestyle Instagrammer @kickstq (Tareq Qaddumi) opened up his exhibit “Hella Paragraphs” yesterday evening at the Contemporary Art Platform. The exhibit focuses around Tareq’s battle with instagram and their algorithms:

Instagram introduced a new algorithm in 2016 that affected the engagement of millions of users. In reaction to this change, popular accounts with public outreach responded with efforts to take back control over content visibility, comment on lack of privacy and targeted censorship. These works make a statement against Instagram’s controversial algorithm and the consequences it has on popular users such as Tareq Qaddumi. Qaddumi uses his works to show his personal battle with an algorithm that continues to get in the way of expressing himself freely and making an impact in the way he chooses to.

The Contemporary Art Platform is located at the Design District, here is their location on Google Maps.

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Activities Art Things to do

Haraka Center for Movement Arts

Haraka Center for Movement Arts (HCMA) is a new dance and movement center that just opened up in Shuwaikh. Their classes will focus on ballet, modern, contemporary dance, other dance styles, and movement-based classes.

HCMA is for women of all ages and levels (no classes for men). They started a few days ago and their full upcoming schedule is available on their website harakacenter.com. Drop-in classes are for KD15 while their packages start from KD40. If you’re looking for something to do then check them out, also make sure you follow them on instagram @haraka.center

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Art Things to do

Exhibition: SADI 2021 – Connectivity Through Art

If you’re looking for something to do then this exhibit might be interesting to visit:

SADI is an ambitious program envisioned by AlSadu Society to encourage creativity and innovation in contemporary textile arts and design for artists in Kuwait. Every year, we invite 5 artists from various creative backgrounds to be a part of the program, and explore a particular element of sadu.

Drawing on the unique global circumstances that have both connected and disconnected us, this year’s “SADI 2021: Connectivity Through Art” exhibit features the works of Ahmad AlAjmi, Fatema Al Bader, Sheikha Al Habshi, Razan Al Sarraf, and Fay Al Awadhi who have explored the principles of sadu and connectivity, and how the two interweave with modern art.

Opening: Saturday, May 29th 2021 at 5PM
​​Exhibit Dates: May 29th – June 7th 2021
​​Hours: 10AM – 2PM, 4PM – 8PM
​​Location: Sadu House

You need to pre-book your visit in advance due to Covid restrictions. Here is the booking link.

Categories
Art Design

Al Seif Stairs Getting Repainted

The Al Seif strip had cool colorful stairs covered with graffiti on both sides and it had a lot of character. It was a bit gritty but it was real and people used to go and take photos in front of the walls and it was one of those “instagrammable” spots. Then one day someone decided that the stairs needed renovating and they ended up painting over all the graffiti and turning it into normal boring stairs again with white walls covered with black splatters. It looked terrible.

But, the colors are now coming back because the walls are currently being repainted again by the artist @oat.here. They’re still not finished but it already looks 100x better as you can see in the photo above.

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Art

Remember the Andy Warhol Signed Catalog from his Kuwait Exhibit?

Last year I posted about how I lost out on an auction for an Andy Warhol signed catalog from his Kuwait exhibit. I had put my max bid at €1005 but someone else ended up winning it for €1200. Yesterday I found out that the person who won the auction is now trying to sell the catalog for KD1,500 (around €4150).

I’m really disappointed since I thought whoever bid against me wanted the catalog a lot more than I did, and that was ok. But to lose against someone who just wanted to get it to resell it at a higher price, that kinda sucks. Oh well.

Categories
Art

Single Man Wall Mural Destroyed

This is such a heartbreaking thing to wake up to, the colorful and beautiful wall mural by the artist Jad El Khoury has been destroyed. The artwork titled “Single Man” was commissioned back in 2016 on the side of the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters. Jad left Lebanon and came to work in Kuwait and the artwork represented a single person trying to fit into a new chaotic environment. The project was sponsored by Jedareyat, a local volunteer group that scours the city and crowdsources for dead walls and artists who can transform them into picture-worthy landmarks.

I think I’m finding this extremely sad because of what the idea of destroying an artwork like this means. If the National Council for Culture, Arts and Letters doesn’t appreciate art, then who does? Actions like this and the destruction of important landmarks like the Ice Skating Rink make me feel like we’re moving backward and not forward which is really worrying me. I want to express more of my feelings but I also don’t want to get deported so I will just keep it all bottled up inside instead.

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Art Information

Rise Up Beirut Art Fundraiser

LOYAC’s Art and Performance Academy (LAPA) yesterday launched a virtual art fundraising exhibition with the proceeds of the exhibition going to renovate the homes of those that were affected by the tragedy in Beirut earlier this month.

The exhibition includes all types of artwork from artists in Kuwait as well as the region and will continue until September 5th. There are some great pieces so check them out on Instagram @riseupbeirut_art