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03 September, 2008

First Alumna Exhibits at Qatar Now Series

Qatari artist and alumna Manar Al Muftah exhibits her work at The Gallery. Reception 7:30PM on Wednesday September 3, 2008.

The Gallery at Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar is very pleased to present the work of Manar al-Muftah as part of the annual series Qatar Now at the opening reception on Wednesday, September 3 at 7:30PM. The Qatar Now series features the work of emerging and established Qatari artists and designers. A graphic designer by profession, Manar al-Muftah is also a graduate of VCUQatar. It is the first time that The Gallery is featuring the work of an alumna in a solo exhibition at The Gallery. The exhibition will continue through October 4, 2008.

Arabic calligraphy is deeply rooted in Manar's repository of memories. She recalls learning the Arabic alphabet as a child. "It was more than a mere collection of letters. The curviness and the smoothness of the many letters together wove a story in my mind: 'ra' was a girl's braid, and 'lam' was my father's fishing hook."

Native Arabic speakers rarely pay attention to the Arabic alphabet because they have spoken and written in Arabic all their lives, "we never examine the forms and shapes of those letters," says Manar. "Today, my own perception of letters has changed tremendously. I don't see letters as figures anymore. Three years ago, I never thought about the letter 'nun'; today, 'nun' is more than a letter. It is a crescent, a bowl of sadness, a bag of flour, and my lucky talisman! Each letter has its own story and each has an identity."

Both native Arabic readers and non-readers will typically see the letters joined to form words. Very seldom are the separate letters shown individually. When we see "fa" by itself, it helps our eyes to move freely from the dot to the body forming an image in the mind. One might see a boat, while the others a lucky charm! Each letter is unique and has a visual impact. Manar says, "I try to give each letter the value it deserves, and expose it to the contemporary world. My artwork is very intimate. Each piece is part of me. Each is a precious memory of my childhood."

Manar's sister Aisha Al-Muftah points out, "it is the juxtaposition of the expected clear-cut clean appearance of what we conceive as graphic design with the rough, unpredictable, multi textured appearance of the works, which strikes [the] viewers. While graphic work is usually machine printed, here the letters are hand printed and interwoven with hand collaged elements."

The Gallery at VCUQatar in Education City is open to the public on Sunday through Thursday from 10:00AM to 4:00PM.