The exhibition That Feverish Leap into the Fierceness of Life presents a diverse range of artworks by leading members of five modernist artist groups and schools spanning five decades from five Arab cities: the Contemporary Art Group in Cairo (1940s/1950s), the Baghdad Group for Modern Art (1950s), the Casablanca School of Art (1960s/70s), The Khartoum School (1960s/70s), and Dar Al-Funun Al-Sa’udiyyah (The House of Saudi Arts) in Riyadh (1980s). Curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, the exhibition derives its title from the 1951 founding manifesto of the Baghdad Group for Modern Art, reflecting these five groups’ passionate contributions to the intellectual and artistic discourse surrounding modernism within their respective socio-political contexts.
The exhibition consists of 75 paintings and works on paper by 29 artists assembled from 25 lenders across 15 cities. In recognizing the heterogeneity of these five artist formations, the exhibition asserts the diversity that underpins their art-historical significance, as well as their political agency. It sheds light on the contradictions, antagonisms, accomplishments, as well as the commonalities among various expressions of modernism throughout a long century of rigorous negotiation and creation. In doing so, the exhibition refutes the depiction of modernism in the Arab world as a monolithic phenomenon. Instead, it advocates an inclusive vision of art history where the particularities of the so-called “peripheral” are no longer seen as dichotomous with the perceived authority of the so-called “central,” and where, to cite the Manifesto of the Baghdad Group of Modern Art, modernism becomes “that feverish leap into the fierceness of life.”
Faraj Abo, Hussein Youssef Amin, Mohamed Ataallah, Farid Belkahia,Mohammed Chebaa, Ahmed Cherkaoui, Bachir Demnati, Abdlehadi El Gazzar, Jilali Gharbaoui, Salim Al Habschi, Mohamed Hamidi, Kamala Ibrahim Ishaq, Mohammed Kacimi, Omer Khairy (aka George Edward), Mahmoud Khalil, Mohammed Melehi, Abdulhalim Radwi, Maher Raef, Samir Rafi, Ali Alruzaiza, Shakir Hassan Al Said, Ibrahim El Salahi, Mohammed Alsaleem, Jewad Selim, Lorna Selim, Naziha Selim, Ismail Al Sheikhaly, Ahmad Shibrain, and Abdulrahman Alsoliman