Image Credit: Faisal Masudi/Gulf News

Sharjah: From paintings to sculptures, from fabrics to lights, visitors can now enjoy over 40 exhibits of the Sharjah Islamic Arts Festival, whose 20th edition opened this morning.

Most of the installations – around three in four – are on show at the Sharjah Arts Museum, which will host them until January 23, 2018.

Some of the displays are obvious in their connection to “Islamic art”, such as Arabic calligraphy and paintings of famous mosques. Others are more subtle – inspired by Islamic themes, as opposed to directly representing them – such as an installation of glass and fluorescent tubes crisscrossing each other. 

The festival is held under the patronage of His Highness Dr Shaikh Sultan Bin Mohammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.

It has been opened by Shaikh Abdullah Bin Salem Bin Sultan Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah, who has toured the exhibits and interacted with the artists at Sharjah Art Museum. 

Organised by the Cultural Affairs Department at the Sharjah Department of Culture, some exhibits are also being hosted at other locations. Of the parallel exhibitions, 10 of them are on show at the Al Majaz Waterfront, Al Majaz Amphitheatre, Awqaf Department, Al Qasba, Maraya Art Centre, and the Calligraphy Square (Calligraphy Centre, Calligraphers Studios, Calligraphy Museum).

A complimentary ‘Festival General Program’ book available at the participating venues has more details. More than 28 organisations have assisted in the coordination of the festival projects. Over the span of the festival, there are also going to be over 200 activities, lectures, and workshops.

“I’m really impressed by the work on display here. I like the installation ‘My Wedding Reception’ [by Emirati artist Khalid Sharaf]. It’s obvious it’s a traditional Arab wedding party even though there is only the groom’s garment and empty chairs here,” said Ziad Barakat, 39, a visitor from Iraq.

The new edition’s theme, “Athar” or Impact, serves as a concept to unite artists. The new concept, organisers say, reveals the effect that the artists intend to achieve through their work and shows how to harness contemporary art to shorten the cultural and artistic distance between the East and the West.