Damien Hirst’s exhibition is big and impressive. The Museum of Islamic Arts is a landmark on Doha’s Corniche. These are major statements that show Qatar’s ever-growing interest in the arts.
But statements don’t have to be huge to be of interest, or at the very least to pique the interest of the curious.
So here are five small but significant arts spaces across the city of Doha.
1. Al Markhiya Gallery
Al Markhiya Gallery (pictured) is an oasis of art, nestled a short distance from the busy central thoroughfare of Souk Waqif.
Careful curating brings intriguing artists from Qatar and across the Arab world to what is essentially a traditional two-story Qatari house.
Usually two or three artists show at the same time, often, but not always, linked by geography. The current exhibition, featuring the work of Qatari artists Salman Al Malik and Wafika Sultan, continues through to 11 January 2014.
2. The Gallery at VCUQatar
The Gallery at VCUQatar is a single room on the ground floor of the Education City-based Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar campus. This small space is used to host visitors targeted at inspiring VCUQatar’s artistically inclined students for most of the year, and by graduating students themselves in late Spring.
The latest exhibition to be based at The Gallery at VCUQatar entitled ‘Open Forms’ by English artist Kate Terry, a delicate, beautifully fragile site-specific installment made of parallel lines of coloured threads weaved at angles across the room.
3. Anima Gallery, The Pearl
You need to turn left and go straight to the very end of the current Pearl development to find Anima. There’s a café, there are classes and workshops, but the main reason for going is for a walk around the art gallery.
Anima’s position at the furthest extreme of the Pearl can make it feel like you’ve stumbled on a hidden gem. Fortunately, the staff are not intent on keeping Anima a secret, and are more than happy to guide you around their latest exhibition.
Until 1 February 2014, Anima is hosting a solo show by Jehad Al Almeri entitled Andalusian Curtain.
4. The Project Space at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art
Out at the westernmost edge of Doha is Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art. It has quickly established itself as home to major exhibitions by modern Arab artists, and selections from the permanent collection can be visited for free.
The latest addition to this forward-thinking centre for Arab-focussed modern art is a room off the central atrium called The Project Space.
The Project Space is dedicated to new tendencies in artistic production and experimental curatorial practices. Conventional and fusty it isn’t.
The first artist to collaborate with ‘Mathaf’ is Egyptian sound artist Magdi Mostafa. Mostafa’s Sound Element, based around found and often-ignored sounds, runs until 5 January 2014.
5. Katara Art Center’s Gallery and Concept Space
Its location in the heart of Katara Cultural Village makes Katara Art Center the ideal spot for getting art out into the wider community.
Until 25 January 2014, the Gallery hosts renowned British sound and installation artist Max Eastley, as part of the QatarUK 2013 collaboration between Britain and Qatar.
Meanwhile, until 9 January 2014 the Concept Space is hosting Moving Postcards, a collection of short video loops that highlight different aspects of the changing face of Doha that was originally shown last year at Hamad bin Khalifa University’s Student Center within Education City and is a collaboration between Doha Film Institute, Qatar Museums Authority and VCUQatar.