Abdulqader Al Rais to open retrospective in Paris

 Abdulqader Al Rais in his atelier in Dubai, 2018. Courtesy: Dubai Culture.

Abdulqader Al Rais in his atelier in Dubai, 2018. Courtesy: Dubai Culture.

One of the UAE's foremost artists will have a solo retrospective exhibition at the Institut du Monde Arabe (The Arab World Institute) in Paris. The work of Abdulqader Al Rais, who is known as one of the pioneers of contemporary art in Dubai and the wider Gulf region, will be on display in the prestigious Parisian institute covering various periods in the artist’s career, from his time in Kuwait to his current life in Dubai. Al Rais — born in Dubai in 1951 — played a pivotal role in enriching the UAE's arts scene and this exhibition provides a comprehensive display of over 50 artworks spanning from the 1960s until today.

Hosted in collaboration with Dubai Culture, there will be a series of talks and workshops to take place during the opening week of the exhibition, including a workshop held by Al Rais himself. These activities will highlight the rich components of Dubai’s cultural life, with an emphasis on the emirate’s vibrant contemporary arts scene. A delegation from the Authority will also conduct meetings with their French counterparts during the opening week.

European audiences will be exposed to Al Rais' early works, which show an emphasis on the political conversations at the time of painting - such as the Palestinian cause and the rapid urbanisation of the Gulf. They will also witness a movement within Al Rais' work from realist expression to abstraction, impressionism and a mastery of watercolour that is still unparalleled in the region.

 The work of Abdulqader Al Rais features bright colours, calligraphic elements and exaggerated paint brush strokes. Courtesy: Dubai Culture.

The work of Abdulqader Al Rais features bright colours, calligraphic elements and exaggerated paint brush strokes. Courtesy: Dubai Culture.

The exhibition is part of the UAE's bid to use soft power overseas. His Excellency AbdulRahman bin Mohamed Al Owais, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Dubai Culture, said the "initiative is aligned with the ‘UAE Soft Power Council’ launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and its primary objective is to convey the country's history and culture abroad, where art exhibitions are considered as a source of inspiration and a way to convey a civilisation, culture, and society." He added that is also part of the 2018 French-Emirati Cultural Dialogue programme as well as the Year of Zayed - which is an ongoing effort to uphold the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. "Additionally, such an effort will broaden the understanding of the UAE’s culture around the world, and will consolidate relations with embassies at a regional and global level," he said.

This is the first time that Abdulqader Al Rais will be exhibited in France and also, his largest international retrospective. Jack Lang, President of the Arab World Institute in Paris, said: “Abdulqader Al Rais is a fantastic explorer of patterns, shapes and colours. Though he has never been exhibited in France, he is recognised in the UAE as a prominent artist and a source of inspiration for the new generation. The Arab World Institute will proudly host in September Al Rais’ full spectrum of work, going back to the 1960s, including his abstract, calligraphic and geometric pieces, as well as a special painting he made specifically for this exhibition.”  

Al Rais himself said he was dedicated to strengthening the UAE’s creative scene and highlighting its rich culture through his art. "The upcoming Paris retrospective is a major new milestone in this journey and I would like to express my gratitude to Dubai Culture for organising the exhibition at the Arab World Institute in Paris. I am particularly proud that the exhibition will take place during the ‘Year of Zayed’ and I hope it will be an opportunity for visitors to discover the unity, tolerance and multi-culturalism that he advocated through the arts.”

 This painting of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi contains a smaller image of another smaller mosque. The title of the painting is a Quranic verse that translates to How The Grateful Are Blessed and shows the importance of faith. Courtesy: Dubai Culture

This painting of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi contains a smaller image of another smaller mosque. The title of the painting is a Quranic verse that translates to How The Grateful Are Blessed and shows the importance of faith. Courtesy: Dubai Culture

As part of its ongoing efforts to promote soft power, and through its relations with the embassies of brotherly countries, and through the UAE’s embassies in other global cities, Dubai Culture seeks to promote Dubai as a global centre for creativity, consolidating the UAE’s global reputation, and sharing Dubai’s thriving creative scene with the world.

  • Abdulqader Al Rais: A Retrospective. September 25 - October 21, L'Institut Du Monde Arabe, Paris