WEST ASIAN ART SURVEY CATALOGUE
Provocative works by 45 artists have been assembled into a stunning survey of the contemporary art of 17 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. Art Radar delves into Contemporary Art in the Middle East.
As noted in the foreword to Artworld: Contemporary Art in the Middle East “geographical proximity does not necessarily translate into cultural homogeneity” but the editors nevertheless challenged themselves to – and succeeded in – presenting works coherently. To give some sense of the scale of the challenge, we noted styles as diverse as the conceptual art of Mona Hatoum, pop photography by Shirin Aliabadi, portraiture by Shirin Neshat and minimalist calligraphy of Golnaz Fathi.
Not meant to be definitive, this survey instead suggests subtle themes and distinctions and is intended as a basis for further discussion.
Almost half of the artists in the book are women and there is a mix of works by artists who practise locally and diaspora artists such as Mona Hatoum and Shirin Neshat who are based in New York and London respectively.
Visually works in the books are also carefully grouped. Monochromatic and minimalist styles are laid next to one another, layered and calligraphic works are grouped as are colourful works and those with echoing shapes.
Just flipping through the book, it is striking how many of the works use simple shapes and many figurative or conceptual works look like abstract images.
Groups of works about mobility, mapping and partition merge with groups concerned with war and destruction, which flow into others that study exile and memory then displacement in the urban environment.
For example, Hrair Sarkissian’s photography depicts architectural structures often abandoned and uncannily empty.
Essays and extras in Artworld
Along with a series of essays and a useful bibliography, the book contains interviews with:
editor of Bidoun magazine Negar Azimi;
curator Rose Issa;
curator Andrew Rento;
Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts Director Wijdan Ali;
Abraaj Capital Art Prize Chair Savita Apte;
Art Dubai director John Martin; and
editors of NAFAS art magazine Gerhard Haupt and Pat Binder.
How to buy Artworld: Contemporary Art in the Middle East
This book is available on Amazon. Click here to buy Contemporary Art in the Middle East in the Art Radar Amazon Store. (Disclaimer: We receive a small commission if you use this link.)
- Walid Road’s Lebanon shows in Sweden: picture post – February 2011 – New York-based Lebanese artists captures the changing face of Beirut and the growing Arab art world
- Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian collected by the Met – January 2011 – female Iranian mosaic and mirror artist collected by museum
- Syria stifles home-grown artists – December 2010 – New York Times looks at attitudes to art in Damascus
- First time for Afghanistani, Kyrgyz, and Iraqi artists in Sovereign Asian Art Prize finalist line-up – November 2010 – Halim Al Karim’s and Ulan Djaparov’s images amongst the finalists
- Gallerist Salwa Zeidan explains mission of inaugural Abu Dhabi Sculpture Symposium – March 2010 – Zeidan discusses government sponsorship of the arts and her favourite Emirati sculptor