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Largest ever exhibition of Emirati art ever to be staged in Europe will see 30 Emirati artists travelling to Berlin for the opening

Portrait of a Nation - Berlin 29th Aug 2017

Abu Dhabi Festival brings landmark exhibition of Emirati art to Berlin Art Week

From 13 - 17 September 2017, Abu Dhabi Festival will present Portrait of a Nation, the largest ever exhibition of artworks by Emirati artists in Europe at Berlin Art Week. Held under the patronage of H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, Portrait of a Nation brings together the UAE’s leading contemporary arts practitioners to reflect upon their homeland. A groundbreaking 30 of the participating artists will travel to the official opening of the exhibition, marking the first time that Emirati artists are represented in a group this size in Europe.  Portrait of a Nation will be open to the public at the ME Collectors Room in Berlin from 13 September to 29 October 2017.

Portrait of a Nation originally premiered at the Abu Dhabi Festival 2016, and is now part of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation’s (ADMAF) programme of international events offering platforms for homegrown creative talent to showcase their creative output. Exploring the themes that are at the heart of Emirati identity Portrait of a Nation offers a rare glimpse into the UAE’s history and diversity while considering significant contemporary questions of heritage and identity.

The exhibition brings together the UAE’s leading contemporary practitioners such as Ebtisam Abdul Aziz, Amna Al Dabbagh, and Mohammed Kazem, to reflect upon the nation from individual artistic perspectives. The exhibition is divided in seven themes: Nation & Unity, Geography & Nature, Architecture & Urbanism, Portraiture & Identity, Religion & Spirituality, Language & Calligraphy and Tradition & Heritage. These areas summarise the diverse topics and issues that the featured Emirati artists deal with and that continue to be of significant interest in their ongoing creative practice.

Tracing the nation’s shifting identity, the exhibition includes 20 specially commissioned works by emerging and established artists. These new reflections are contextualised by seminal pieces dating back to the birth of the country. Three generations of renowned Emirati artists are presented; from Hassan Sharif and his atelier students to younger artists. The exhibition presents a variety of mediums: sculpture, photography, land art, painting, textiles, video, scenography, and new takes on traditional crafts. From large–scale indoor and outdoor sculptures to paintings, drawings, photographs, collages, videos and installations, Portrait of a Nation captures the ever-changing face of the visual arts in the United Arab Emirates today.

The exhibition is supported by a diverse series of public events that will begin with a meet and greet with the participating artists at the official opening of the exhibition. H.E. Hoda Alkhamis-Kanoo, Founder of the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation (ADMAF) and Artistic Director of Abu Dhabi Festival take part in a discussion on the exhibition. The discussion will be followed by Tarek Yamani performing his Abu Dhabi Festival commissioned piece, “Peninsular: Portraits in Khaleeji Rhythms and Jazz”, exploring the correlation between jazz and Khaleeji traditions through complex rhythms and harmonies. The programme also includes a discussion on ‘Emirati Identity, Emirati Creativity’ with featured artists Zeinab Al Hashemi, Amna Al Dabbagh, and the first Emirati spoken word artist Afra Atiq. Karima Al Shomely, will speak about her research into the Emirati burqa, before giving a live performance. UAE filmmakers will be represented by Ahmed Zain’s ‘Father’s Grant’ and ‘Nearby Sky’ by Nujoom Al Ghanem.

School groups and children will have the opportunity to take part in engaging and creative workshops led by participating artists including Sarah Al Agroobi, Azza Al Qubaisi and Saeed Al Madani.

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Commissioned artworks by:

Sarah Al Agroobi
Mohamed Al Astad
Ammar Al Attar
Khalid  Al Banna
Amna Al Dabbagh
Eman Al Hashemi
Zeinab Al Hashemi
Saeed Al Madani
Fatema Al Mazrouie
Azza Al Qubaisi

Hamdan Buti Al Shamsi
Hind Demithan
Mohammed Ahmed Ibrahim
Aisha Juma
Layla Juma
Lateefa Bint Maktoum
Khalid Mezaina
Salama Nassib
Khalid Shafar
Khalil Abdul Wahid


Ebtisam Abdul Aziz
Ali Al Abdan
Zayed Al Absi
Ahmed Saeed Al Areef Al Dhaheri
Jassim Al Awadi
Shamsa Al Dhaheri
Abdul Aziz Al Fadli
Ahmed Al Faresi
Reem Al Ghaith
Yousif Al Harmoudi
Khuloud Al Jabri
Mohammed Al Mazrouie
Sheikha Alyazia Bint Nahyan Al Nahyan
Omran Al Owais
Mohammed Al Qassab
Abdul Qader Al Rais

Sumaya Al Rais
Mohammed Al Mazrouie
Karima Al Shomely
Architecture + Other Things
Maitha Demithan
Afra Bin Daher
Lamya Gargash
Mohammed Kazem
Fatma Lootah
Najjat Makki
Mohammed   Mandi
Abdul Rahim Salem
Hassan Sharif
Hussein Sharif
Obaid Suroor