Dealer Oliver Hoare is back—and this time it’s personal
Exhibition catalogue gives “different version” of Sheikh Saud’s story
By Melanie Gerlis. Web only
Published online: 31 March 2015
The Islamic art dealer Oliver Hoare is opening a two-month exhibition dedicated to 250 personally-chosen objects spanning the past 5,000 years (33 Fitzroy Square, London, 6 May to 26 June). The predominantly selling exhibition marks Hoare’s first major show since 2005, when he was caught up in the confusion over the accounting practices of his long-time client, the collector Sheikh Saud al-Thani of Qatar (who died in 2014).
Hoare has written lengthy catalogue entries to many of the items included in the exhibition—“Every object tells a story: Oliver Hoare’s Cabinet of Curiosities”—explaining both their historical importance and personal backstories.
This has given him the opportunity to speak out publicly, for the first time, in support of the sheikh and his role in building the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA) in Qatar. In 2005, Sheikh Saud was dismissed and briefly placed under house arrest over financial irregularities. His key role at the museum was subsequently omitted from the speeches made at its launch in 2008.
Hoare has included a stuffed rare specimen of the Kakapo parrot as the “perfect peg” on which to hang his views (the sheikh was a passionate conservationist). In his catalogue entry, Hoare writes: “the story of this disaster needs to be told, because there are two different versions. One is the accountant’s version, which has become common currency as justification for the elements in the Qatar establishment who destroyed this extraordinary man, throwing away the cultural future of their country in the process. The other version is the purpose of this short essay.” Of particular note is his description of the sheikh’s role in getting the architect I.M.Pei to take on the MIA commission. The catalogue can be viewed at www.everyobjecttellsastory.com (item 78 is the Kakapo parrot and accompanying text).
Among the other items on show in London are a touchstone button that Hoare purchased from a stall in Lijiang, China, for $1 in 1994; a double bass, commissioned by Thubten Gyatso (1876-1933), the 13th Dalai Lama; an anthology of poetry that belonged to the Great Mughal Emperors (probably Afghanistan, early 16th-century) and a rare dodo bone from the 17th-century, one of the few still in private hands. Prices for the objects that are for sale (around 20% have been loaned) range from £500 to over £1m.
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