Sultan Gallery's Blog

Zan’it Al Sittat by Huda Lutfi – 3rd – 19th May,2011

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The Third Line presents a solo exhibition of works by Huda Lutfi at Sultan Gallery, Kuwait. Zan’it Al-Sittat is an exploration into concepts and representations of femininity that proliferate through various channels in Egyptian culture at large. 

Both historian and artist, Lutfi is a bricoleur. She collects disparate iconic images and manipulates them to re-invent her vision of Egyptian culture, its histories and events. In doing so, Lutfi simultaneously comments on the political relevance of her social context, lifting old feminine icons from history and giving them new life by re-contextualising historic time lines, creating hybridised, timeless female figures.

The exhibition borrows its title from an existing market place in Alexandria, Zan’it Al-Sittat, where women are found in large numbers, and which literally means the space where women are squeezed together.  This title is used conceptually to allude critically to the situation of women in Egyptian as well as other cultures at large, and how their social movement is prescribed in the public space. One feminine icon predominates in this market space, the Egyptian diva Umm Kulthum, who is reconstructed not only as an Egyptian icon but as a universal feminine icon as well.

 Known for constructing the feminine archetype through juxtaposing the ancient goddesses of Mesopotamia, Egypt and India with the more “modern” goddesses such as the Mona Lisa, Umm Kulthum, Tahiyya Karyokka, the artist’s mother or aunts, Lutfi captures the women’s emotions, their sexuality and experiences in order to simultaneously celebrate femininity and expose the cultural restrictions imposed upon it. Her work attempts to “frame” women in order to create new arrangements of contemporary iconography and cultural representations.

Lutfi’s work is about revisiting the archives of the past and the present, and about manipulating objects and images to reinvent their cultural identity. As well as collage and painting, Lutfi also uses the ‘found and ready made objects’ in her installation work, usually sourced from rummaging through old artefacts and discarded items in Cairo’s markets, factories and antique shops. Her previous work has often included old statues, plastic dolls, broken chair legs and crystals from broken chandeliers to reconstruct her urban cultural context. Lutfi’s work has a strong archival feel to it, as old and modern icons sit side by side, layer upon layer, constructing a historical dialogue between them.

About Huda Lutfi
Huda Lutfi works like an urban archaeologist, constantly digging up found objects and images as loaded fragments of history. She then re-packages them using bricolage and collage as interceptive strategies. Recognizable objects, images and icons are hijacked, re-contextualized and made to tell a different story, playing on collective memory and shared iconography, Lutfi uniquely blurs cultural timelines and boundaries in her work. Multi-layered and playful, Lutfi is known to work with a wide range of media, collage, installations, assemblages, and more recently with photomontage.
Trained as a cultural historian and, with her second career as an artist, Lutfi emerged as one of Egypt’s most notable contemporary image-makers. She received her Doctorate in Islamic Culture and History from McGill University, Montreal, Canada (1983), and has been teaching at the American University in Cairo. Drawing upon the historical, cultural and local experiences and traditions of Egyptian society, she began exhibiting her artwork in the mid-1990s. She has exhibited locally and internationally, with acquisitions in Paris, London, The Hague, Virginia, Indianapolis, Amman, Bahrain, Dubai and Cairo.  Lutfi currently lives and works in Cairo.

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April 19, 2011 at 9:44 am

Reminiscing Kuwait II – A Tale of a Country – By Hamad AlSaab & Ali Sultan – 19th – 21st April, 2011

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The second installment of the Reminiscing Kuwait series launched in December 2007 will be held at Sultan Gallery on April 18th, 2011.

 The collection features mixed media paintings with the subject Kuwait and Arabic culture in the 1950’s and 1960’s as well as video installations. Hamad & Ali’s aim is to bring back memories of the past and conserve them for the future generations. The art work presented by Hamad & Ali invites the viewer to experience history and Arabic traditions from a playful and yet very detailed point of view. Using the history as a path to the future the artists’ work involved many contemporary and traditional painting techniques combined with digital imagery and photography.

 The Kuwaiti artist Hamad Al Saab and the German Iraqi artist Ali Sultan started their collaboration in 2006 focusing on digital artwork on canvas using iris print and silkscreen. From there, the work evolved and included calligraphy, acrylics, silk paint, apoxy, Swarovski crystals, stencils and different transfer techniques. Hamad & Ali’s work has been shown in solo exhibitions in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia and in collective art shows in Doha (Qatar) and the UAE and is been collected by many art appreciators in the Middle East as well as in the UK, Germany, Switzerland, the United States and South America.

Further this year Hamad & Ali’s eighth solo exhibition will be held at Lahd Gallery in London on May 26th, 2011.

Written by sultangallery1969

April 19, 2011 at 9:26 am

The Tragedy of Self by Monira Al Qadiri – 12th -14th April, 2011

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Exhibition concept:

 When defining the temperament of recent times, the concept of the ‘Self’ is an important one. The Self is taught to be glorified and worshipped; creating a system that can render one indifferent to others. During this process, one can become more and more isolated from the world, coming to experience certain emptiness: an emptiness that arises from the futile attempt of attaining an idealized version of self.

 In this series of works, this tragic cycle of narcissism is expressed through the use of photographic self-portraits; many of them being saint-like and androgynous, with melancholic expressions, fragmented into many parts. By actively participating in the conceptual structure of her work, the artist wishes to convey that she too is not outside the cycle, reinforcing the sense of vulnerability by posing herself as the tragic subject.

About the artist:

Monira Al Qadiri is a Kuwaiti artist born in Senegal in 1983. For the past ten years she has been living in Japan where she studied fine arts and completed her PhD at Tokyo University of Arts. This exhibition will be her first solo show in Kuwait since she left for Japan, and is a culmination of her work from the past two years.

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April 9, 2011 at 9:17 am

FILIM : Remixed Arabia by Jassim Al Saddah – 29th – 31st March , 2011

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 There is a booming market for film posters today. These posters are famed for their dramatic use of iconic imagery and typologies created specifically for them, pulling reference from the film itself that made it popular. 

Film memorabilia began with such things as scrap-books, autographs, photographs, and industry magazines, but quickly expanded in the post-World War II era and collectors began seeking out original advertising material, and the classic “one sheet” [27 inches by 40 inches (686x1020mm), portrait format film poster] became the pinnacle object to own for any given film.* With time, what was originally intended for the sole purpose of boosting movie ticket sales became an object of interest in and of themselves. In other words, the means by which one art was promoted gradually became an art in its own right. 

Recently, a newer generation of re-imagined movie posters have surfaced. They are referred to as “remixed” posters where the content of the original is altered to convey political or comedic messages. As these posters represent imagery and references that have been ingrained in the public psyche, artists have found an outlet by which to reach both the art connoisseur and members of the general public for which the original film poster was intended. As a result, the artist gains a much louder voice and delivers a message easily digested by a very wide audience utilizing the standard dimension of the classic “one sheet.”. 

This adaptation of past and present pop culture icons within the Arab World has taken on many forms. Icons of Arabia such as Om Kulthoum, Feyrouz, and Abdel Haleem Hafeth have been repeatedly used as the icon celebrity or the motif in this new art trend. Furthermore, as comparisons between Arab pop icons and their international Western counterparts have always existed, merging the two was a natural extension of remixing iconic movie posters. For instance Arabian screen vixen Hind Rostom can easily be seen  in a classic Marilyn Monroe pose. In other instances it is a visual interpretation of some conspiracy theories behind famed rumors or distinct similarities between the movie actor’s names, features, attributes and title of the movie. 

Whatever form these remixed posters take, whether the message is political, social commentary, or simply comedic in nature, there is no denying its far reach and great appeal for artist and viewer alike.

Written by sultangallery1969

March 28, 2011 at 9:45 am

The Children of Gaza- 8th – 17th March ,2011

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Earlier this year three international photographers, Giuseppe Aquili, Jim McFarlane and Anthony Dawton, with the support of Al Madad Foundation and Save the Children entered Gaza. For nearly two weeks the award winning photographers photographed children a…nd their families victims of the Israeli incursion on December 27th 2008. The images are extraordinary, they tell of what happened and the damage done, physically and psychologically but they also tell of a people particularly the children, bright intelligent and full of hope.

The exhibition will be as dramatic in its presentation as the images themselves comprising of black and white photographic art works. Included in the exhibition will be original pieces, inspired by the photographic images, from the renowned artist Dia Azzawi. His images will provide a vivid and colourful contrast to the imposing mono chrome images of Aquili, Dawton and McFarlane.

The exhibition hopes to define the process in which art can bring understanding to seemingly intractable political conflict as well as to highlight the terrible consequences long and short term of such conflicts.

Proceeds from the exhibition will go to Save the Children projects in Gaza particularly its outstanding work with conflict traumatised children. Both Al Madad Foundation and Save the Children will be on hand at exhibitions to answer questions both about the works of art and Save the Children’s projects in Gaza.

Exhibition Dates & Timings:
Opening : 8th March – 7 – 9 pm
9th March – 10am – 4pm & 7 – 9pm
10th – 17th March – 10am – 4pm ( Closed on Fridays & Saturdays)

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March 1, 2011 at 12:02 pm

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Sultan Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of 50/20, a two-part exhibition featuring a new generation of artists who are challenging the construction of history through visual practice.  

“The question of how individual memory fits or, more accurately, does not fit with history is at the heart of the question here.” – Gayatri Spivak.


As part of its mission to foment critical thinking through visual arts, Sultan Gallery has invited a number of artists, curators and similarly occupied individuals to superimpose their own visions of history in this exhibition commemorating 50 years of sovereignty within the State of Kuwait. The month-long exhibit will be held in February of 2011, with one opening on February 1st, and the second on February 15th beginning at 7pm.


The body of work being shown in this exhibition acts as a kind of historiographical analysis over the development of the State of Kuwait in relation to the rest of the world. Artists here explore a number of topical, socio-political issues that analyze how argument [tradition] shifts over time in response to the changing conditions of market and state [flux]. How was Kuwait culturally affected by a financial grown spurt with the discovery of petroleum? Is the country’s social and cultural development up to par with the Dinar? What is art to a society like Kuwait? These are some of the questions addressed through a range of mediums including video, photography, sound, sculpture, installations, and even the incorporation of design for debate as an aesthetic in art. Works range from individual histories, to folk, fiction, and secularist landscapes that combat stereotype, stigmas, and dogmas.


Sultan Gallery invites you to explore 50 years of independence, and 20 years of liberation through the eyes of the country’s young cultural cohort and protagonists starting February 1st 2011.   


Exhibition Schedule: 

February 1st | 7-9 pm

February 2nd | 10am – 4pm & 7-9 pm

February 3rd – 10th| 10am – 4pm (Closed on Fridays & Saturdays)

February 15th | 7-9 pm

February 16th | 10am – 4pm & 7-9 pm

February 17th – 24th|10am – 4pm (Closed on Fridays & Saturdays)



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January 30, 2011 at 9:55 am

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20 Seasons a Day – An exhibition by Iraqi-Dutch visual artist, Nedim Kufi at Sultan Gallery.

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Sultan Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of ’20 Seasons a Day’,  a solo show by Netherlands-based Iraqi artist, Nedim Kufi.

It’s the second time the artist is exhibiting in Kuwait, as Nedim Kufi is undoubtedly a man of talent. The way he undergoes transformation in his work, transforming himself from subject to object, is testament of the living energy instilled in such original artwork. Kufi uses pigments, twigs, leaves, seeds, henna and mud in his oeuvres. For him, the art-master is nature and we, the scrimmaging subjects of this world, are forever nature’s students.

For this exhibition Kufi was inspired by the physical and relational characteristics of a notebook. The thematic “daftar” (Arabic for workbook) has for long been a source of revelation throughout the development of his work. In 2004, the artist founded the online quarterly magazine called daftar, which can be visited at  Part of this project was to take physical iterations, as the objective has always been for it to occupy a place between theory and practice –either as seminars, publications, performances  or presentations of work– hence the exhibition being announced herein. Here Kufi aims to open up to the audience through his artwork much like a notebook opens up to it’s owner. Partially reminding of the things we have noted down like points on a page, and partially giving us the freedom to fill up empty spaces through our own imagination. For Kufi the meaning of artwork is where it’s merit lies; not in it’s appearance, but in many cases the title. He insists on working on the end of the story more than on the start of it, as he encourages the viewer to do when analyzing his work.

It is with this objective that Sultan Gallery invites you to explore Nedim Kufi’s  ‘20 Seasons a Day’, where he analyzes the garden and questions the changing value of nature and the environment over the span of one day (Tuesday, January 11, 2011 from 7 to 9 p.m.).


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January 12, 2011 at 9:30 am

And We Were Speaking Through Silence – Manal Al Dowayan – December 20th , 2010 – 6th January, 2011

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 Saudi Arabian lens-based artist Manal Al-Dowayan explores the state of solitude within shared spaces and the loss and reinforcement of identity within this state of isolation. The second artist-in-residence at Cuadro Fine Art Gallery, Al-Dowayan joined The Arts Residency program in May 2010 and will remain in residence until the end of November 2010. We Had No Shared Dreams is the culmination of this residency.

In her latest series of work she explores how local demographic changes and global activities are experienced on a personal level.  Although ‘local’ and ’global’ can be worlds apart for some, in reality, they form a single conversation with multiple translations. On a personal level she explores the impact of the veil on women, a cloth that can erase an identity of the person wearing it, but can place a woman comfortably among a homogenous community of like-minded individuals that reinforce their identity with the veil. The solitude felt from behind the veil is ignored at the expense of the empowerment of a group.
Al-Dowayan also explores the unique rapid demographic change that her country has experienced in the past decade: On average, Saudi Arabian cities have witnessed a 30 per cent rise in their population. This has, obviously, had an impact on its individuals and communities, as many struggle to preserve their identity through self imposed isolation. Simultaneously, Al-Dowayan shifts from the local to the global – exploring our sense of belonging in a world that has become increasingly Islamophobic, racist, and fanatical; here too, we see many in self-imposed seclusion. In her in-depth depiction of solitude and the search for identity, Al-Dowayan incorporates major elements that have become prevalent tools of survival; the satellite dish is one of those tools.
In this body of work, Al-Dowayan continues the dialogue that she started with Landscapes of the Mind, a stunning collection developed in 2009, in which she explored the notion of a landscape in conflict with itself and the impact that space can have on the development of identity at the individual level. We Had No Shared Dreams builds on this with a graphic dialogue with defined characters: the city and its inhabitant.

Following the success of Landscapes of the Mind and previous series such as I Am and The Choice, Al-Dowayan decided to make art her full time vocation, a career choice Cuadro is proud to support. The Arts Residency at Cuadro will provide Al-Dowayan with the necessary skills to enable her to further develop her artistic practice. Al-Dowayan follows Alex De Fluvia’s residency, which culminated with De Fluvia’s highly successful exhibition Writing in the Sand, which opened at Cuadro Fine Art Gallery in March 2010 and coincided with Art Dubai.

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December 5, 2010 at 8:51 am

PrettyGreenBullet|The Exhibition by Ghadah AlKandari – 9th – 11th November , 2010

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” As soon as my hands were dexterous enough to hold a pencil, I have been drawing almost every single day of my life. And my need to draw daily was never as satisfying and fulfilling as it was the moment I discovered the easy world of blogging. An audience in the safety and security of my own home. So about a year ago, I launched It provided me with an instant platform for exhibiting my daily doodles, notes, drawings, paintings, photography and experimentations. It allowed me to be an artist to just myself, with an added bonus of having 20 or 30 people viewing my works at the end of the day. And at the end of the day, I’m just a girl who wants to show the class the picture she drew ” -Ghadah Alkandari

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November 5, 2010 at 8:14 am

’Your Friends and Neighbors’, a solo show by New York-based Saudi artist, Jowhara Al Saud.

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Sultan Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of ’Your Friends and Neighbors’, a solo show by New York-based Saudi artist, Jowhara Al Saud.

” As photographs give people an imaginary possession of a past that is unreal, they also help people to take possession of space in which they are insecure.” – Susan Sontag

 The images created by Jowhara Al Saud speak of the careful nature and character embedded in Middle Eastern society, especially in the Gulf Corporation Council, where public projection is a precarious issue. Her manner of addressing censorship reveals how arbitrary these regulations (supposedly standard) are, and consequently the psychological repercussions this has on people on a more social level.

 The body of work being exhibited in Sultan Gallery began as an exploration of censorship in Saudi Arabia. For Jowhara Al Saud it was about understanding the effects of censorship on visual communication and social cohesion (or lack thereof). But it wasn’t long before this exploration of censorship evolved into a study of empirical human interaction, thus turning her work into a “cataloguing” of how telling and familiar small gestures and fleeting moments can be. Sort of like the shy apologetic smile you exchange with a stranger when you accidentally bump into one another on the street, or that awkward moment when two people reach for the same thing at the same time and touch without meaning to. It is precisely this arbitrariness that is played up in her artwork, which appropriates the language of occultation by applying it to her own personal photographs in pseudo-self-censorship:

‘I began making line drawings, omitting faces and skin. Keeping only the essentials preserved the anonymity of my subjects. This allowed me to simultaneously circumvent, and comment on, some of the cultural taboos associated with photography. Namely the stigma attached to bringing the ‘personal portrait’, commonly reserved for the private domestic space, into a public sphere.” 

How much can you tell with so little? This question has long been the polemical issue of representation, and thus Sultan Gallery invites you to explore revelation vis-à-vis representation through the work of Jowhara Al Saud on Tuesday, October 19th 2010 from 7 to 9 pm.

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October 12, 2010 at 8:10 am