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Sara Shamma: Bold Spirits

Dulwich Picture Gallery, London
19 September 2023
The prestigious Dulwich Picture Gallery in London holds a solo exhibition by renowned artist Sara Shamma, entitled “Sara Shamma: Bold Spirits,” between September 27, 2023 and February 25, 2024.
The museum, founded in 1811, is the first purpose-built public art gallery in the world. it has a wonderful collection of paintings by the "Old Masters" such as Rembrandt, Rubens, Canaletto, Lely, Poussin and others. It is considered one of the most important art collections in Britain, and is permanently displayed within Sir John Soane’s pioneering architecture.
In addition to its permanent collection, Dulwich Picture Gallery presents a program of world-class exhibitions by major artists from different eras, and exhibitions by famous contemporary artists, but this is the first time in its history that it has held a solo exhibition by an artist of Arab origin.
Sara Shamma’s exhibition includes her new body of work that is responding to specific paintings from the Gallery’s historic collection. For this show, Shamma has focused on the female figures in the collection, channelling the spirits of these women, while also connecting them to episodes from her own life, to retell their stories for contemporary viewers.
Each of Shamma’s paintings presents a powerful and thought-provoking interpretation of works by artists including Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Lely, Anthony van Dyck and Peter Paul Rubens. Shamma explores identity, death, motherhood and unexpected beauty in works that demonstrate her technical expertise as a painter, as well as her long-standing appreciation for and exceptional exploration of the works of the Old Masters, yet this is the first time that Shamma has directly responded to a collection of historic European paintings.
Shamma is interested in the creative possibilities of paint, and her works often contrast hyper-realistic detail with thick bands of richly-textured colour that appear floating in the air. Her practice explores themes of humanity and emotional connection, and images of her children, her family and self-portraits often feature in her work.
It is worth mentioning that Dulwich Picture Gallery is hosting, in the same period, a major exhibition by the great Flemish artist Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). The exhibition includes over 40 paintings by the artist on loan from the most important museums in the world, they represent different women, including his two wives and daughter, portraits of wealthy women of his time, Saints and mythological Goddesses, The exhibition is entitled “Rubens and Women”, the theme that brings it together with Sara Shamma’s exhibition and opens the way for artistic dialogue and deep intellectual discussion between two artistic eras, which constitutes a new and unique experience for visitors to the museum, so it was decided that the two exhibitions will be opened at the same ceremony, on September 26, 2023.
Sara Shamma's paintings will hang side by side among the paintings of great artists and Old Masters, in one of the most important museums in the British capital, London. The exhibition will last for five months so that the largest possible number of art experts and lovers can visit it.
“Sara Shamma: Bold Spirits” is curated by Helen Hillyard, curator at Dulwich Picture Gallery.


Sara Shamma and Helen Hilyard in conversation
Friday 8 December 2023, 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm
A talk with Dulwich Picture Gallery's curator, Helen Hillyard, exploring Sara Shamma's creative practice, the inspiration behind her art, and her connection to Dulwich Picture Gallery.
For more info

Sara Shamma Master Class
Saturday 17 February 2024, 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Sara Shamma leads this practical, one-day painting course open to artists of all abilities. Inspired by her exhibition, the master class will explore the creative and technical possibilities of the paint medium.
For more info
Rubens & Me: Sara Shamma

Sara Shamma: Bold Spirits
September 2023