Qatar showcases painter Tuymans in major exhibition

PHOTO: The Straits Times

DOHA - A retrospective of the works of acclaimed Belgian artist Luc Tuymans opened in Doha Sunday as Qatar reinforces its position as a global art centre with one of its largest-ever exhibitions.

Featuring about 100 paintings and 80 drawings, "Intolerance" showcases Tuymans's work back to the 1970s and features a new work - "The Arena" - specifically for the exhibition in the Gulf.

The show, two years in the planning, is Tuymans's first in the Gulf and he described it as "very, very big enterprise".

Tuymans, who hails from Antwerp, said he was attracted to exhibit in Qatar because of "its clear interest" in his work and its commitment to art.

"The fact that it (Qatar) is a Gulf state that puts its money into culture and intelligence - they don't have to do that," he told AFP.

The works have been drawn from private collections and galleries from around the world.

The Doha exhibition comes following a personal invitation to Tuymans from Sheikha Al-Mayassa al-Thani, chair of Qatar Museums, who was named as "Queen of the Art World" by Forbes magazine earlier this year.

Among the paintings on display at the cavernous Al Riwaq gallery in central Doha include a portrait of former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and "Prisoners of War", an image of allied pilots shot down in the first Gulf War.

Tuymans is the latest big name to exhibit in Qatar, after Louise Bourgeois, Damien Hirst and Richard Serra in recent years.

Jean-Paul Engelen of Qatar Museums said bringing contemporary exhibitions helps foster "an existing culture of artistic appreciation and participation in Qatar".

Away from major exhibitions, Qatar has also made headlines in recent times for buying major works of art including Cezanne's "Card Players", worth up to $300 million (S$415 million).