A Nostalgic Tapestry Woven Together by Bouthayna Al Muftah
An exhibition that traces memories, journeys of the past, passage of time and the collection of thoughts to the final amalgamation of a tapestry of all past histories woven intricately together marks Anassir (Elements), a solo exhibition by Bouthayna Al Muftah, curated by online art gallery Emergeast at M7, Msheireb.
Qatari multidisciplinary artist Bouthayna Al Muftah is almost apologetic as she hovers around the guests, taking them through her artworks in a stunningly curated space by Emergeast but her work is not the least diffident. The curation is also done in such a way that the smaller pieces, from Fataraat (Phases) and then In’ekas (Introspection), make us look in thoroughly for details that slowly arouse our curiosity and then the final stunner is revealed, the breathtakingly large-scale tapestry named Yeebhom (Bring Them Back).
Dima Abdul Kader, the curator of Emergeast, takes us through the exhibition, explaining how the region’s first online art gallery that opened in 2013, set its eyes on this new talent from Doha. Al Muftah has since then climbed the ladders of success and is now a known figure with her artwork of a traditional headwear being thrown in the air used as the official posters of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.
“We opened in 2013 with 14 artists and Bouthayna was one of them. We have huge respect for her and believed in the importance of her work; her process was impeccable and her style of storytelling was always inspirational. While her work was contemporary, she was bringing traditional themes and dialogues through the layers revealed and this combination was breath-taking. This was almost nine years ago and now she is an artist the entire country is proud of. She has since developed her craft in depth and exploration of materials and mediums, though her stories and stimuluses have remained the same and are guided by her memories of the past,” says Abdul Kader.
Al Muftah’s visual practice explores her identity through themes surrounding memory, her native cultural heritage and their subsequent documentation. Anassir (Elements) exhibits an amalgamation of components in Al Muftah’s multidisciplinary practice showcasing her 360 profound explorations of recording collective memories and personal experiences through the passage of time.
“Al Muftah was exploring the history of her country and revealing them layer by layer through her works. Her work is a kind of documentation of the past,” says Kader, taking us to one part of the exhibition where the viewers image can be seen through the mirror, imagining our communication, bringing in our experiences to the artforms.
Al Muftah is a Bachelor of Arts graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar. After graduating, Al Muftah directed her artistic practice to printmaking, typography, and documentation, which evolved over the years into large-scale installations and performance pieces.
The core inspiration behind Al Muftah’s artistic production is Qatar’s deep-seated cultural heritage. Her art borrows elements from the people of Qatar’s oral history and folklore and readapts them to reflect her relationship with her land’s past. Deeply fascinated by the collective memory of her country, Al Muftah’s research focuses on old neighbourhoods of Qatar, and the key figures who shaped them. To resuscitate and reconstruct pivotal moments from history into a contemporary setting, she lifts characters and stories from these communities, and locates them in her own universe through her art. Al Muftah gradually turned to conceptual bookbinding as a means of expressing her understanding of Qatar’s past.
Al Muftah says, “My second solo exhibition, Annasir, presents a culmination of different practices using various mediums, spanning painting, photography, performance, and printmaking. I am excited to unveil these new pieces in Doha for the first time, and present what is an amalgamation of years of artistic experimentation and an exploration of Qatari culture via my own lens”.
Her Excellency Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalid Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums, alongside Sheikha Hanadi Al-Thani, Founding Chairperson of Q-Auto, Audi’s official distributor in Qatar, opened ‘Anassir (Elements).
Al Muftah’s latest composition depicts a passage through time, conveyed in a series of artworks–The tapestry is a legacy project which was produced in collaboration with the world-renowned La Cité internationale de la tapisserie in Aubusson. Born out of the relationship established during the Qatar-France 2020 Year of Culture, the tapestry serves as a commemoration of the 50-year anniversary of diplomatic relations between Qatar and France. The unique artwork blends French Traditional and Qatari Contemporary influences, inviting the viewer to discover traditional weaving craftsmanship through the lens of a contemporary artist.
Her exhibition is on show at M7 located in Msheireb Downtown Doha–Qatar’s epicentre for fashion, tech and design. The exhibition is accompanied by Audi’s House of Progress initiative, which is hosted by M7 and jointly curated by online art gallery Emergeast. Elements (Anassir) is the second solo show for the artist in Doha, and is on display until 21st January 2023.