Installation that Implies Stability through Material Play
Qatar Museums commissioned local artist Shua’a Ali to create Tawazin, a pillar that symbolises evolution in Qatar. The pillar that is made of multiple materials found in the country signifies the coming together of traditional and modern elements, and finally attaining stability through gravity.
In July 2021, Qatar Museums revealed a gigantic Falcon, a public art installation by Tom Claassen that received a lot of interest due to the popularity of the international artist, the scale and magnificence along with its location near the entrance of the Hamad International Airport.
But it is not just international commissions that the Qatar Museums are looking at to encourage. Qatar Museums, in collaboration with Qatari Diar and Msheireb Properties, have announced two upcoming new art installations as part of the second edition of the 5/6 initiative, which invites artists to conceptualise and propose a permanent public artwork that explores artistic interpretations of social cohesion and solidarity.
To continue the legacy, Qatar Museums’ Public Art department commissioned Qatari artists Shouq Al Mana and Shua’a Ali to exhibit their first public art installations in Lusail Marina, and in Msheireb Downtown Doha on Sikkat Al Wadi (next to Arabica).
Seeming precarious in its arrangement, Shua’a’s installation is a coming together of diverse materials in all forms, shapes and colour. Balancing on rocks, bricks or stones of granite or sandstone, this public art installation makes us explore and contemplate the artists’ thought process, through the medium of locally available construction materials.
Tawazin is a symbolic representation of a pillar that implies development of Qatar, in various materials including granite, sandstone, limestones and pebbles that come with both organic and geometric shapes to form an aesthetical and conceptual dialogue.
Shua’a Ali has always dabbled in art and has been studying art in various countries she has travelled to. With parents posted in different places around the globe, Shua’a learnt art forms from countries she lived in like silk painting from Tunisia and this led her to appreciate various cultures and mediums of art as well. In 1997, she graduated from Richmond The American International University in London and finally after 22 years of travelling around the world, came back to her home town. The positive effect of an oil and gas-rich economy that spiralled her country into fame along with the diligent use of resources to fan the cultural and artistic landscape of the country had a nostalgic effect on the artist who missed this important period of transition and came to the country in the throes of its success. This pushed her into finding more about the transitional period through her art, of subjects of the balance of old and modern, of the effects of tradition and modernity on local women and their individuality and place in modern Qatar and so on.
“The sculpture signifies balance between traditional and modern elements in our everyday life. This large-size sculpture is a statement of balance signifying the importance of maintaining equilibrium between the contrasting elements as Qatar continues to develop and flourish,” says Shua’a. While the artist has worked on numerous exhibitions in the country and some international ones, this public artwork is her largest public art commission work. Through conceptual art, the artist encourages the audience to question and rethink their own identities and surrounding environments, within the context of accelerating progress in Qatar. She focuses specifically on the mundane to appreciate the contemporary moment — between past and present.
“Qatar’s deserts and land contain various designs and shapes of man-made stacks. They are used mainly to mark certain unpaved roads, locations, or camping sites in the deserts. The materials employed in my installation are part of our everyday debris in Qatar and they surround us in the present day. Through simple methods of stacking, I have used construction materials and found objects to achieve a visual and conceptual balance of materials and shapes that touches on the stability of Qatar and the unity of its people,” she says.
Shua’a work is influenced by numerous artists of which, Jose Davila, Ugo Rondinone, Lee Ufan, and abstract expressionist painters such as Franz Kline and Joan Mitchell, are favourites.
Commenting on the unveilings, Abdulrahman Ahmed Al-Ishaq, Director of Public Art at Qatar Museums, said: “The unveiling of these artworks is symbolic of Qatar’s unity as a nation and an uplifting reminder of our resilience in the face of challenges.”