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Debut solo exhibition of Algeria’s Baya Mahieddine at the Sharjah Museums Authority

By JT - Feb 28,2021 - Last updated at Feb 28,2021

On display along with more than 70 artworks by Algerian artist Baya Mahieddine at the Sharjah Museums Authority through July 31 (Photo courtesy of Sharjah Museums Authority)

AMMAN — As part of its “Lasting Impressions” series, Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA) is organising the first solo exhibition held in the Arab world, outside Algeria for Algeria’s pioneering artist Baya Mahieddine, according to a press release from the organisers.

Mahieddine’s retrospective is the 11th edition of the exhibition series held at the museum, which aims to spark inspiration by introducing works of prominent artists from the Arab world and their contributions to art in the region. 

Running through July 31, the five-month exhibition features more than 70 original works spanning Mahieddine’s career of over six decades, including paintings that were displayed at her first exhibition in Paris in 1947.

Drawing inspiration from cultural traditions and environmental surroundings, coupled with her unique creative sensibilities, the pioneering late Algerian artist created dreamlike compositions, largely dominated by female characters.

Her impressive paintings are showcased across 16 halls at Sharjah Art Museum, taking visitors on a spectacular journey through Mahieddine’s life and work from her early works until her death.

Manal Ataya, director general of SMA, said: “We are truly honoured to be the first institution in the region to highlight the creative works of the late Algerian artist Baya Mahieddine in this solo exhibition of this scale celebrating her splendid works along with her rich artistic legacy and the lasting impression she had left on the global art scene.”

The “Lasting Impressions” exhibition affirms that honouring artists and their creative practices is a duty that exemplifies the appreciation of their contributions to Arab modern art history,” the SMA director general stressed.

She underlined the human-centred approach adopted by the Emirate of Sharjah to deepen the values of respect and peace among people, positioning itself as an artistic and cultural enlightenment centre and a source of inspiration in the region.

Ataya went on to say: “Art will remain a key and rich component of human culture and an inexhaustible medium by which to record one’s perspectives and voices on our society today.”

Generously loaned to the Sharjah Art Museum by private collectors and various institutions from the UAE and beyond, including Galerie Maeght, which presented Mahieddine’s first solo exhibition in Paris in 1947.

 A collection of Baya’s exquisite paintings was also loaned by the Sharjah Art Foundation, Barjeel Art Foundation, Lebanon-based Ramzi and Saeda Dalloul Art Foundation, Tunisia’s Kamel Lazaar Foundation and Elmarsa Gallery in Dubai and Tunisia.

The artist’s family also loaned to the museum one of her last works that she had completed, before she passed away. 

Baya Mahieddine — known simply as Baya — was one of Algeria’s most prolific modernist artists. 

With a career spanning nearly six decades, she became pivotal to the formation of a distinct north African modernism in the arts, as she succeeded in establishing the so-called primitive art, a new Algerian and Arab fine art school. 

Mahieddine was also linked to international postwar movements, like Surrealism and Art Brut. Drawing inspiration from Amazigh, Arab, Islamic and European artistic traditions, coupled with her own unique creative sensibilities, she was born Fatma Haddad but gained international acclaim as Baya Mahieddine.

Co-curated by Alya Al Mulla and Suheyla Takesh, the exhibition is expected to bring together a selection of local, Arab and international artists, as well as lovers of fine art and audiences who are interested in learning about Mahieddine’s six-decade long journey through her creative paintings.

On the fringe of the exhibition, SMA is organising a panel discussion titled “Women’s Representation in Art” on the occasion of the International Women’s Day, at 7pm on March 8. 

Chaired by Ataya, the session will see the participation of a number of female art experts from inside and outside the country to highlight the important contributions of Arab female artists to the art scene.

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