Qatar’s new store aims to foster appreciation of art by making it affordable – Doha News
As Qatar’s local arts scene grows, arousing the appetites of residents here remains a challenge. One of the main deterrents appears to be the high price of most of the artwork for sale in Qatar, which often ranges in the tens of thousands of riyals.
A new concept store that opened to the public last month, however, aims to change that by making art “affordable”.
Located at the Gate Mall, French store Carre D’artistes sells artwork that almost anyone can buy, according to regional franchise owners and husband-wife duo Martha Blanco and Sameer Abdi.
While most galleries in Qatar only feature works by established artists, at exorbitant prices, the new art gallery caters to a larger part of the market, Abdi said.
“The concept of the store is simple, that art should be accessible to everyone,” he added.
The new business owners said they were inspired to bring the store to Doha after walking around New York’s Greenwich Village three years ago. Blanco said:
“It was such a new and revolutionary idea that we had to bring it here. I’ve never seen a gallery like this – so relaxed, so interactive – it just broke the stereotype of the uncomfortable art gallery where you’re even too intimidated to ask for the price of an item.
The Doha market has needed something like this for a long time. I wanted to start my own business and do it in a meaningful way, and it provided me with that.
With more than 30 galleries worldwide, Carre D’artistes sells works by contemporary artists at standard prices determined by predefined canvas sizes.
In Qatar, paintings start from 13 × 13 cm, costing 450 QR, to mid-range pieces of 25 × 25 cm priced at 1,250 QR, to large-scale works of art in the range of 10,000 to 15,000 QR.
The gallery also constantly rotates the pieces available in its store. Each month, the work of a new artist is featured in the gallery, while the work of the old featured artist will be moved to the gallery of another branch in another part of the world.
In store, each display rack of paintings is accompanied by a plastic plate presenting the artist and his styles to the customer.
Purchased works are framed in-house for a fee, and wrapped and packaged as desired.
Artists featured this month span the globe, from vivid conservative paintings by François Poulat depicting animals, to Gomes’ serene works of striped canvases infusing different color gradients, to dreamy, childlike illustrations by Masako Masukawa.
Showcase local talent
The gallery is one of the first in Qatar to focus on promoting and selling local art, with a mission to fill around 40 percent of its storage space with pieces from the region.
“Currently we have two artists from the region – one from Iran and one from Iraq, but over the next few months we plan to welcome three more artists from Qatar into the fold.”
The selection process is rigorous and takes place at the franchise’s headquarters in France, where a team of Carre D’artistes reviews more than 200 applications each month.
The first of three local artists lined up to exhibit at the store is Ali Ahmed Al Mulla, a young Qatari artist who has launched his first solo exhibition, Faces – captured in color, in Katara last month.
Drawing inspiration from famous figures in history, Al Mulla’s work focuses on vividly colored portraits of everyone from Gandhi to Einstein to the Mona Lisa.
His so-called “box” – a selection of 40 unique bespoke pieces that will go on sale at the store – is currently in the works.
Blanco and Abdi are also in talks to showcase works by Ali Al Kuwari, a veteran Qatari artist, and local Filipino artist Roy Salazar.
Drawn in ink and painted in transparent watercolors, The watercolors of Salazar are snapshots of Doha’s most beautiful scenes, buildings and symbols, captured on paper.
In the coming years, the couple plan to open stores in Dubai and Bahrain.
And over the next few months, they will be teaching art to the public through workshops at the Katara Cultural Village.
Blanco said: “The idea is to start educating children and then adults on how to appreciate and buy art. Trying to reach the kids is the first step, and we’re excited to start soon.
The store is also planning to hold artist dedications, during which featured artists travel to Doha to create paintings live in front of an audience.
In a specific Middle Eastern service, the store has also started offering bespoke art consulting services for customers who want to renovate their homes and add an artistic touch to their walls.
However, the overall goal is to encourage a culture of sustainable art buying, where residents would seek to gift art to their friends and family.
“If you give an art gift, say one of our little paintings, it not only costs about what you would pay for a good perfume, but it’s timeless. You are giving culture as a gift.
You give something personal. The perfume, or the bag, or the shoe, will run out or go out of fashion, but a work of art is eternal.