Art has always been present in the Arab civilization. Indeed, the Middle East already has an artistic heritage now considered as classic before abstract and contemporary art appear. Autonomous colors, pure forms, intractable geometry and powerful decoration particularly distinguish Arab works and artistic creations. Contemporary artists are inspired and operate their visual heritage, from arabesque, calligraphy, architecture to the mosaic, arts and crafts, “the heavenly magic carpet” in the creation process. We can see this fact with the regular return of contemporary artists in the old Islamic art.
Arab contemporary works have found their place in the international scene. They are found in major European exhibitions. This expansion is accompanied by the emergence of scenes and contemporary art fairs in the Arab countries. Dubai, Doha, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Tunis, Algiers or Marrakech each city has its own.
Twists result of the Arab Spring
While the Arab Spring had negative impact in many areas in the Eastern countries, it had the opposite effect in the field of art. It has further inflamed the sights and managed to turn eyes towards Arab countries, which stimulated artistic production. The craze for contemporary art was also a good thing for artists.
The Arab contemporary art carries on revealing itself through local or universal exhibitions, from Paris to Vienna, Venice, Bamako and elsewhere. The works with mixed forms and sensibilities, reflecting the political, social critic, spiritual, eroticism, playfulness, body etc seem to delight audiences on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea.
5 contemporary artists that has marked the Middle East
Today’s Arab contemporary artists enjoy greater freedom and opportunities to unfold. Here are 5 of those who had marked the Islamic Arab modern art.
Paul Giragosian, the most popular Arab painter of his generation
Paul Giragosian was born in 1925 in Jerusalem into an Armenian family who emigrated to Lebanon in 1947. He lived in misery and developed his painting skills through self-education. His efforts bear fruit when in the 1960-1970 years, he became the most popular Arab artist of his generation.
These classical-contemporary style works raised up topics such as the role of the artist in a society, his status in the Arab world, the challenge of finding its own style, women consecration, self-portrait and other themes like humanism.
Dia Al Azzawi, a prominent figure of Arab modernity
He was born in 1939 in Iraq and followed graduate studies in archeology and art at the University and then at the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad. He is a painter, sculptor, book artist. He has promoted young Iraqi artists.
Dial Al-Azzawi has devoted his career to the creation and dissemination of contemporary Arab graphic arts worldwide, from Europe to Americas, but also in the Arab world. The public can admire his public and private collections in art galleries, international exhibitions, museums and art centers.
Saloua Raouda Choucair, pioneer of abstract art in the Middle East
Saloua Raouda Choucair was born in 1916. She initiated abstract art in the Middle East with his paintings, textiles and sculptures lock. His passion for art and Islamic architecture began during a trip to Egypt in 1943. She attended Fine Arts School and attended master Fernand Léger’s workshop in Paris in the late 40s. Back in Beirut in 1950, the artist embarks in the clay modeling and woodcarving. For her, art must be a living and architectural reality, the reason why she uses various materials and shapes.
Mahmoud Mokhtar, the father of modern Egyptian sculpture
He lived from 1891 to 1934 and is considered as the founder of modern Arab plastics. He studied at the Cairo Fine Arts School then perfected his skills under the tutelage of Rodin in Paris. He was passionated about the plastic style of the great masters, and contributed to exhibitions. Perseverance, will, purity and naive freshness of the soul, the truth of life are essentially his creations themes.
Mukhtar is an important figure in the Egyptian art history. His work has greatly influenced the Egyptian new art but not only, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and other Arab countries have also followed the winds of change he initiated.
Amer Shomali, a Palestinian visual artist
He was born in 1981 in Kuwait but spent his childhood in the Palestinian Yarmouk refugee camp in Syria. He obtained a Bachelor in Architecture at the Birzeit University and a Master of Arts at the University of Bournemouth. Palestine stories told by his parents during his childhood inspired him and his film creations. He freely uses conceptual art, painting, digital media, movies, comic books and a lot of humor in his works. He is the artist behind the famous “The wanted 18”.