Arab Express at Mori Art Museum

Arab Express, The Latest Art from the Arab World, is currently in full swing at the Mori Art Museum 森美術館, Roppongi  六本木,Tokyo. (until October 28, 2012)

Rejection- 1by Hassan Meer, 2011, Digital Print

Arab Express introduces the art works by 34 artists, all from the rapidly transforming Arabian Peninsula or neighboring countries, with their diversity of cultures. This diversity is also reflected in the works.

Left: Good Stamp by Jeffar Khaldi, 2009, acrylic on canvas. Right: Special Report by Jeffar Khaldi, 2009, acrylic on canvas.

Detail from Good Stamp by Jeffar Khaldi.

The exhibition commemorates the 40th and 50th anniversaries of diplomatic relations between Japan and some of the countries, among others the State of Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi and Kuwait.

Dubai: What’s Left of Her Land? by Reem Al Ghaith, 2008/11, mixed media installation

Currently, branches of the Louvre (Jean Nouvel), and the Guggenheim Museum (Frank Gehry) are under construction in Abu Dhabi (UEA), as well as the Zayed National Museum (Norman Foster). Back in 2010, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha (Qatar) greeted its first visitors. Referred to as “indications that the industry is maturing”*, or why not, this is where the money is for the time being, Arab Express is still worth the visit. As is often the case with modern and contemporary art, one cannot but help thinking: I could have done that! A question that also often pops to mind is: Is this really art, and what makes an interesting exhibition? I will return to those questions later, because trending right now in Tokyo’s more unconventional exhibition spaces (at least for the Western eye) are not exhibitions in the usual sense (think museum setting and set up), but something completely different, commercially driven and more like ad campaigns.


Xanadu, Your Neon Lights Will Shine by Zena el Khalil, 2010, mixed media.

Detail of Xanadu, Your Neon Lights Will Shine by Zena el Khalil.

Peace Will Guide the Planets and Love Will Steer the Stars by Zena el Khalil, 2010, mixed media.

Black Fountain by Maha Mustafa, 2008/12, mixed media installation.

Complementing the exhibition is the Let’s go to Abu Dhabi campaign, with the chance of winning a round trip ticket to Abu Dhabi. I hope we could all join forces in the souk سوق‎ , negotiating the greatest shoe deals with Carry Bradshaw…


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