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September 23, 2022–January 8, 2023
The Blaffer Art Museum is pleased to present the first solo museum exhibition of Monira Al Qadiri’s work in the United States in collaboration with the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston.
Al Qadiri, who is regarded as one of the most significant artists to have emerged from the Persian Gulf region in recent years, grew up during the country of her birth, Kuwait, which went from being one of the world’s oldest civilizations to dominating the oil industry to its current position as a geopolitical battleground. The research of Al Qadiri focuses on “petro-cultures,” which are societies where the practices and discourses around the consumption of oil and gas and the ensuing dependence on it shape everyday life and society. Her work examines the zeitgeist created by clashing notions of affluence, religion, and globalization, acting as a seismograph for this way of life. Refined Vision, the exhibition’s whimsical title, reframes and refocuses perspectives of intricate global social, economic, and political worlds.
The artwork in Refined Vision ranges from the fantastical to the melancholy, and it captures the dramatic and frequently breathtaking scenes that the artist remembers from her real (and imagined) childhood in the Middle East. Al Qadiri was initially motivated to create this exhibition by the similarities in riches and infrastructure between the Persian Gulf region and the Texas Gulf Coast. As a result, in the hopes that themes will resound and overlap, she poignantly recalls pictures and tableaus that will be recognizable to both regions.
Al Qadiri also incorporates traces of both the distant past and an imagined future into her works. She frequently incorporates funny technicolor science fiction themes, such as dinosaur remains, extraterrestrial exploration, or alien technologies, into complex world histories and cultural challenges. Al Qadiri challenges us to take stock of our existing situation while carefully imagining a planet that is more aware of its people, territories, and differentiation of “resources.”
This exhibition, which has received significant sponsorship from the Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston, will introduce four newly commissioned significant works of art that range from video to glass to kinetic sculpture to interactive installations. An accompanying monograph comprising text by curator, educator, and historian Amin Alsaden and an interview with the artist conducted by exhibition curator Tyler Blackwell will be co-published in 2023 by Blaffer Art Museum and Inventory Press, Los Angeles.
Monira Al Qadiri (b. 1983) is a Kuwaiti visual artist born in Senegal. In 2010, she received a PhD in intermedia art from Tokyo University of the Arts, where her research was focused on the aesthetics of sadness in the Middle East—stemming from histories of poetry, music, art, and religious practices in the region. Al Qadiri’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions around the world, including the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (2022); Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany (2020); Gasworks, London, UK (2017); Stroom Den Haag, the Hague, the Netherlands (2017); and the Kunstverein Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany (2019); among others. She has been featured in group exhibitions at venues that include the Guangdong Museum of Art, Guangzhou, China (2021); Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France (2020); MoMA PS1, New York, New York (2019); the Pinchuk Art Center, Kiev, Ukraine (2019); the 6th Athens Biennial (2018); the 9th Asia Pacific Triennial (2018); and the Jameel Arts Center, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (2018); among many others. In 2022, Al Qadiri was featured in the Venice Biennale’s central exhibition The Milk of Dreams. She is a 2022-2023 Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts Artist-in-Residence.
This exhibition is organized by Tyler Blackwell, Curator of Contemporary Art at Speed Art Museum and former Cynthia Woods Mitchell Associate Curator at Blaffer Art Museum. Major support for Monira Al Qadiri: Refined Vision and its catalogue is provided by the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts at the University of Houston. Additional support is provided by König Galerie, Berlin.
Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston
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