Works by Munira al-Kazi, like the above piece from 1962, inaugaurated Kuwait's first art gallery in 1969 when it presented a joint show with the Kuwaiti artist and Issam al-Said, an Iraqi. Since then the gallery has hosted luminaries including Andy Warhol and Syria’s Fateh Moudaress.
Abdul Qadir al-Rayyes was a pioneering artist from the UAE whose works in the '60s attracted attention at the Kuwait Modern Art Museum and among private collectors. This piece from the late '60s was featured in a retrospective at the Sharjah Art Museum.
Mathaf: The Arab Museum of Modern Art in Qatar, contains thousands of treasured Arab works of art and recently held an exhibition of 23 Qatari artists including Abdulwahed al-Mawlawi whose piece, "The Bisht Maker," above, dates from 1965.
In his work "The Narjeela" from 1974, Qatari artist Jassim Zaini's treatment of the water pipe, a symbol of the exotic in Orientalist paintings, shifts the focus to the wildly inventive style of the work itself.
A renowned landscape and portraitist, Kuwaiti artist Abdullah al-Qassar started exhibiting in the late '50s and captured scenes of everyday life as in the above work from 1964.
Collected in museums around the world, Saudi sculptor and painter Abdulhalim Radwi once refused to sell a piece of artwork that had won a prize at the 1988 biennial in Spain in order to bring it back to Jeddah for display in the community. The above work dates from 1975.
Though he was orphaned as a child and died tragically at the age of 34, Mu’jib Al Dosari has had an outsized impact in Kuwait and the entire Gulf as a forerunner of the modern art movement. Unfortunately only 13 of his works of art are known to have survived including the above piece dated to the late '40s or early '50s.
The discovery of oil helped spur the modern arts movement in the Gulf as companies, including the Bahrain Petroleum Company, commisioned local artists such as Aballah al-Muharraqi to produce pieces commemorating the drilling of the first oil wells. This visually eye-popping piece from 1988 incorporates recognizeable symbols of the modern Gulf.
Mu’jib al-Dosari acheived everlasting fame as the first Kuwaiti to study visual arts in Egypt despite his untimely death at the age of 34.
A photo from the opening of Sultan Gallery in Kuwait in 1969 documents the birth of the modern art scene in the country. The gallery is know both for fostering local talent and attracting megastars like Andy Warhol.
A founding member of the Kuwaiti Association for Plastic Arts, noted sculptor Sami Mohamed uses classic techniques to comment on contemporary issues in this piece from 1982 entitled "Sabra and Chatilla."
Dismissed in a recent Wall Street Journal article as having, "no indigenous tradition of visual or plastic arts," the Gulf actually boasts a vibrant tradition of modern art that spans several generations and encompasses various mediums.