Qatar Museums (QM) and Hamad International Airport (HIA) unveiled a new public art piece, at the award-winning airport, created by internationally-acclaimed contemporary French artist, Jean-Michel Othoniel, who is best known for modernising the gardens of the Château de Versailles with his striking glass fountain sculptures.
Cosmos, as the new installation is known, is the latest addition to Qatar’s extensive public art programme, which aims to connect audiences living in and visiting Qatar with inspiring works of art.
Earlier this summer, Othoniel participated in a panel discussion at The New York Times Art Leaders Network 2018 with H E Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, Chairperson of QM, and other distinguished figures from the world of architecture. At the panel, Othoniel described Cosmos as a monumental sculpture that reflects Qatar’s heritage and culture.
Othoniel drew his inspiration for Cosmos from an artefact found in the collection of the IM Pei-designed Museum of Islamic Art in Doha — the oldest Islamic astrolabe in the world. Cosmos pays homage to this extraordinary object, using gold to gild the steel structure of the piece to evoke the warm light of the sun.
Cosmos represents a colossal celestial globe echoing the trajectories of travellers from around the world, with more than 30 million passengers passing through HIA last year. The striking piece resembles bright calligraphy drawn in space when observed side-on or from below, and appears in the shape of a blooming rose when observed from the front.
Under the patronage of its Chairperson, H E Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, QM has worked with local, regional and international artists for many years to commission and acquire artworks for key locations in and around HIA as well as other parts of the country as part of its mission to create easily accessible cultural experiences for all those who live in and visit Qatar.
Khalid Al Ibrahim, Chief Strategic Planning Officer at Qatar Museums, said: “A major focus for us has been to create a diverse and striking public art offering at HIA and around the country, with the aim of taking art outside the walls of a museum to inspire local talent and engage travellers and tourists.
“Jean-Michel is an inspiring talent who has developed a strong artistic connection with the community in Qatar. Cosmos will be a huge draw and a welcome addition to the wonderful range of work already on display at the airport”
Engr. Badr Mohammed Al Meer, Chief Operating Officer at HIA, said: “HIA is truly growing as a gateway to culture as we continue to add to our collection of world-class art by both international and locally-renowned artists. Cosmos is a monumental sculpture that will undoubtedly distinguish and enhance the passenger experience at HIA as it represents the global and cross-cultural sentiments that we very much value.”
Artworks on display at HIA comprise a mix of site-specific creations as well as art that has especially chosen, transforming one of the world’s fastest-growing airports into an innovative space beyond the walls of a gallery, filled with breath-taking pieces meant to intrigue, surprise and inspire passengers as they travel across the world.
Other regional and international artists featured at the airport include Adel Abdessemed, Dia Azzawi, Ahmed Al Bahrani, Maurizio Cattelan, Don Gummer, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Jenny Holzer, Marc Quinn, Anselm Reyle, Rudolf Stingel and Bill Viola.