When I Remember the Past
This virtual tour documents the exhibition titled “When I Remember the Past” by pioneer Qatari Artist Yousef Ahmad, in collaboration between Msheireb Museums and Qatar Art Center (January 2020- February 2021).
A pioneer of the modern art movement in Qatar, Yousef Ahmad’s work exists on the intersections of art, history, and society. From oil paintings to calligraphy composed of palm-tree paper, Yousef Ahmad is interested in creating a vernacular visual language. In his most recent artistic ventures, this language takes on a new meaning with a series of paintings inspired by Marzook Bashir’s poem, “When I Remember the Past.” In the series, Yousef Ahmad creates an evocative visual companion to the poem.
His paintings invite the audience to turn their gaze towards the past. Enveloped with enigmatic beige hues and cascading shadows, the paintings evoke a sense of nostalgia. Yet this nostalgia is not a melancholic one, but an endearing one. Using his exquisite impressionist techniques, Yousef Ahmad conjures vivid images of neighborhoods and a serene landscape in which luscious greenery adorns clay houses.
The nostalgic currents in Yousef Ahmad’s paintings exist within a wider purpose. In the simplicity of the urban landscape he paints and in the thickness of the clay texture, and the dark hues of shadows we find a repository of history. The paintings serve as a guide to a Qatari architectural language and the various urban and societal purposes this mode of architecture served. They exist in an interplay between a visceral yearning for the past and a determination to educate future generations about it.