Art market Magazine February 2017

 
INTERVIEW 
 
Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi 
Whether at…
INTERVIEW

Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi
Whether at academic conferences or on Twitter (where he recently made an impassioned commentary on Donald Trump’s election), this Emirati is the
voice of his country. An unobtrusive collector and philanthropist, the Sultan created the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah, in 2010. A hundred of its works are on show at the Arab World Institute in Paris until July. How did your collection start? Well, I bought my first painting in 2002. Social media had just got going back then, and I was already pretty active in that area. I posted pictures of my purchase, and people asked where they could see it. I then realised there were very few places in the Emirates devoted to Art – if any at all. So I wrote a letter to the government in 2008-2009 to ask if they could find me a venue. Why this philanthropic decision to open a site devoted to art when there was already the Sharjah Art Foundation? The Sharjah Art Foundation is a government project. But we need as many initiatives as possible. When I die, the Barjeel Art Foundation will become public property. I have never considered it mine. Believe me, Arab art needs promoting in the Arab world too, not just in Western countries. That’s why we have staged exhibitions in Alexandria, Kuwait and Jordan. Whom do you consult when buying works? Today, I work with the co-curators Karim Sultan and Mandy Merzaban, who studied in Paris, and with Suheyla Takesh, the Foundation's general curator. I ask their advice all the time. I am also on very friendly terms with several galleries in Dubai, and they help me too. A purchase can take an hour or a year; it depends! What fairs do you go to? I buy at Frieze New York, and at auctions in Paris, London and the US. When it comes to buying, you have to be agnostic! I also buy at Art Dubai – but, sadly, not as much as I would like at the Beirut Art fair, because of the political situation. How do you choose your artists? Do you know any personally? That's a complicated question. A work of art can speak to us straight away, but sometimes we have to go

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The Syrian painter Marwan Kassab Bachi, who died in 2016, is one of Sultan Sooud AlQassemi’s favourite artists. The Sultan bought around fifteen of his works for the Foundation,
including the portrait entitled "Der Gemahl" (The Husband) (1966).
Courtesy of Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah

Art Market Magazine February 2017
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