Doha, Qatar: For travellers with an eye for art, Qatar offers some of the most unique cultural experiences in the Middle East. The country has a long-standing commitment to making exceptional art accessible to all and is home to a diverse range of some of the world’s most impressive public art by globally known, thought-provoking creatives, including Richard Serra and Damien Hirst. With a number of contemporary sculptures and statues in the country, the progressive style of many of the monuments makes Qatar a haven for fans of modern art.
With world-class art free to all exploring the eclectic streets of the capital, Doha’s outstanding collection of public sculptures, such as the Miraculous Journey by Damien Hirst and ‘7’ by Richard Serra, make the city a walking museum for keen culture enthusiasts.
Venturing out to the desert will not disappoint, as East-West/West-East – a truly epic and mind-blowing art installation – can be seen on a visit to the limestone rock formations outside Zekreet. Other impressive pieces can be spotted before visitors have even left the airport, such as the giant Lamp-Bear, which takes centre stage in the grand foyer at Hamad International Airport.
To celebrate the seventh International Sculpture Day (24th April), Qatar National Tourism Council shares the best of Qatar’s outstanding public art to see in 2021.
Top 10 sculptures to visit in Qatar in 2021:
1. East-West/West-East monoliths, by Richard Serra
Qatar is home to four monoliths, built in a secretive fashion until they were unveiled by Richard Serra. Comprising of four steel plates, each of which is over 14m in height, the installation spans over 1km and the monoliths are nestled between limestone rock formations in the desert outside Zekreet.
2. Lamp Bear, by Urs Fischer
Tourists passing through Doha on a stopover can experience the unique mix of art and culture before even leaving the airport; located in Hamad International Airport’s duty-free area is a 23-foot plush teddy bear sitting under a lamp. The sculpture, created by Urs Fischer, is designed to be both humorous and comforting, reminding travellers of childhood or precious objects from home.
3. The Miraculous Journey, by Damien Hirst
The Miraculous Journey, housed at Sidra Medical and Research Centre, comprises 14 monumental bronze sculptures illustrating the development of a foetus. The piece ends with a statue of a 46-foot-tall anatomically correct baby boy, and attests to the beauty of an extraordinary process.
4. Maman by Louise Bourgeois
A giant spider made of marble, bronze, and stainless steel, Maman by Louise Bourgeois can be found inside the Qatar National Convention Centre. Taking its name from the French word for ‘mother’, the sculpture explores the meaning of motherhood and strength and includes a sac containing 32 marble eggs. The colossal structure is among the world’s largest sculptures, measuring over 30ft high and over 33ft wide.
5. Gandhi’s Three Monkeys by Subodh Gupta
Centrally located in Katara Cultural Village, the thought-provoking Three Monkeys by Subodh Gupta features three head-shaped sculptures in military gear: one wears a gas mask, another a soldier’s helmet, and a third a terrorist’s hood. Each piece is made of cooking implements, used pails, traditional Indian lunch boxes and glass bowls. Together, they recall Gandhi’s visual metaphor of the three monkeys that represent the ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ proverb.
6. ‘7’ by Richard Serra
Soaring nearly 80-feet above the MIA Park, ‘7’ by Richard Serra, at the Museum of Islamic Art Park, is a steel homage to the spiritual significance of the number seven in Islamic culture; a metaphor for infinity or completion.
7. Smoke by Tony Smith
Smoke, by Tony Smith, sits at the entrance to the Doha Exhibition & Convention Centre (DECC). Open and inviting, profound yet serene, the giant geometric components of this 24ft tall sculpture, which includes five tetrahedrons and forty-five extended octahedrons, dominate the space.
8. Flying Man by Dia al-Azzawi
Designed by Dia al-Azzawi, the Flying Man at Hamad International Airport consists of two sculptures commemorating flight. Both are inspired by Bin Firnas or Armen Firman, an early flight experimenter whose derring-do included leaping from the Great Mosque in Cordoba in 852 AD to test his new machine made of a silk cloak reinforced with wooden rods to form wings.
8. Pouce by César Baldaccini
Pouce by César Baldaccini is a giant thumb marking a crossroads in Doha’s authentic and vibrant marketplace, the Souq Waqif. Its highly polished bronze patina reflects the surrounding light and is a cheeky addition to the bustling atmosphere of the otherwise traditional location.
10. The Force of Nature II by Lorenzo Quinn
The Force of Nature II sits at the Katara Amphitheatre on the waterfront. The large bronze sculpture, which has sister installations in London, New York and Shanghai, was created by Lorenzo Quinn. It depicts Mother Nature as a woman hurling the planet in circles.