Tampa Museum of Art wants viewers to see themselves through artist's eyes during Arabic art exhibit

The largest collection of Arabic abstract art is currently on display in Tampa at the Tampa Museum of Art.

The exhibition called "Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s" contains pieces from the collection of the Barjeel Art Foundation. It features abstract art from the Arab nations, including Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates.

"It's really important for the community to have the opportunity to see a collection of artwork because it's not just a representation of a moment, but it's also a representation of a worldwide group of feelings," explained Nina Womeldurf, director of marketing and communication at the Tampa Museum of Art.

Abstract art comes naturally to Arabic artists due to their cultural upbringing.

"Artists in the middle east tend to do geometric shapes," stated Womeldurf. "Really, it has a long history, centuries-old, and it's mostly trying to avoid the depiction of individual figures."

This exhibit is the largest collection in the world of 20th-century abstract art from the Middle East and is from the personal collection of Emirati commentator Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi.  

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The works feature different styles than Western Art which is evident in the "Letterism" part of the exhibit.

Womeldurf described it as, "Using calligraphy as a way to represent their written stories is their preferred method and has been for centuries."

Even the painting styles are different, which the viewer can be more drawn into it.

"We have a few cases in the middle of our exhibition hall that allows the viewers to get close up and see the brushwork and detail," said Womeldurf.

The exhibit truly gives the American or Western Art lover a look into a different world.

"It's part of the human experience," said Womeldurf. "The work is going to speak to the viewer in a different way... (and) It helps us look at ourselves through the artist's eyes."

Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s is on display until January 16 of 2022.

LINK: Learn more about the exhibit at https://tampamuseum.org/current-exhibitions/.