Situated at the heart of Doha’s Katara Cultural Village, Subodh Gupta’s take on Gandhi’s Three Monkeys is a powerful statement about war and peace, that utilizes kitchen utensils and kitchenware to create busts of a terrorist, a soldier wearing a helmet and sunglasses and a person wearing a gas mask.
Gupta’s style is multifaceted, with painting, sculpture, video and performance art under his belt. A recurring theme is using objects from daily life, such as utensils, bikes and cabs from his home country India, and transforms these mundane objects into a powerful and provocative message.
Gupta’s version of Gandhi’s “See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” takes on a modern twist today, with the rise of terrorism, military interventions and even chemical and biological warfare in the region and across the world.
Visitors walking between exhibitions, restaurants or even the Katara beach club and theater, are reminded that despite the idyllic setting of the cultural village, war and peace are in a constant struggle around the world.
Since its completion in 2013, Damien Hirst’s “The Miraculous Journey” has faced quite a bit of controversy. A gargantuan bronze sculpture of an anatomically correct newborn baby boy crowns the set of 14 pieces that chronicle the journey of life from the moment of fertilization, all the way through birth.
Initially, after an outcry online, the series of sculptures was covered up. Recently though, and right after the adjacent Sidra Medical Center was officially inaugurated, “The Miraculous Journey” was finally uncovered.
Sidra’s stated mission is the health of women and children, with fertility treatment being one of the main focuses of this 8 billion USD endeavor. This makes Hirst’s masterpiece in the perfect location, right at the entrance of a pioneering medical center specialized in treatment and care of mothers and children.
When first placed in the Qatar National Convention Center’s main lobby, many people were unhappy about the striking bronze, steel and marble piece of art.
However, after understanding the artist’s (Louise Bourgeois) rationale behind this imposing sculpture, it has become a beloved part of QNCC that after the initial shock, visitors and patrons alike fall in love with.
THE SPIDER IS AN ODE TO MY MOTHER. SHE WAS MY BEST FRIEND. LIKE A SPIDER, MY MOTHER WAS A WEAVER. SPIDERS ARE FRIENDLY PRESENCES THAT ARE HELPFUL AND PROTECTIVE, JUST LIKE MY MOTHER.
What looks like a scary monster from your childhood nightmares, is actually a fragile moment of a protective mother carrying three marble eggs. Bourgois’ mother used to repair tapestries in her father’s textile shop, so the spider makes sense, spinning and weaving webs just like her mother.
And just like her mother, a spider mom sacrifices herself for her children, giving further parallels between the sculpture and her mother’s untimely death when Bourgeois was just 21.
SMOKE is arguably the most famous sculpture be Tony Smith. The original was constructed out of plywood in 1967, but the one standing in front of Doha’s Exhibition and Convention Center (DECC) today is constructed out of aluminum and painted black.
Tony Smith’s “Smoke” is the only piece he meant for an indoor space, but in Doha, it stands outdoors and open for the public to interact with freely.
I remember seeing this sculpture in one of the atriums of the Los Angeles Country Museum of Art (LACMA) back in 2012, but seeing it in an open space amongst West Bay’s skyscrapers felt even nicer. It allows one to appreciate the sculpture’s size, it’s solid yet fluid structure. Just like smoke, it fills up its area in unexpected yet beautiful ways, an ode to geometry and Smith’s talent as not just an artist, but an art theorist.