L’institut du Monde Arabe (IMA) in Paris celebrates its 25th birthday. IMA was founded in order to shed a light on all the different aspects of the Arab culture, and has now become one of the leading institutes which promotes the work of various artists from the Arab world. In this way, IMA keeps the cultural connection between France and the Arab world alive.
Since the early years, IMA has given special attention to the Arab visual arts. The past 25 years, more than 100 expositions were organised which exposed paintings, sculptures, pictures etc. to a broad public. As of October 16, 2012 you can visit the new exposition of IMA which is called Art contemporain: 25 ans de créativité arabe [Contemporary art: 25 years of Arab creativity]. Forty artists from the Arab world brought their work together in honour of IMA and its 25th birthday. They drew their inspiration from their motherland and their studies in Europe and America. Their contemporary art is clearly a fusion of different cultures, at the crossroads between east and west. al.arte.magazine highlighted some selected works..
Maha Malluh lives and works in Riyadh, but she went to California to study photography and design. Her art has been praised worldwide. The piece of art above was created in the following way: Maha put different everyday objects together on a piece of paper. Next, she enlarged them and moved them again. The energy and aura of the objects changed, which resulted in an abstract black-and-white image. In this perspective, Maha tries to return to the basic core of the objects. The transformations of energy are always unpredictable, which leads to a unique artwork.
Ayman Baalbaki was born in Lebanon and was all too aware of the war raging throughout his childhood. He studied arts in Beyrut and Paris. With his artwork he tries to transcend the ongoing conflicts in the world. He designs installations made out of different materials. For this exposition he created of a cube made out of fabric, which reminds us of the Ka’aba in Mecca. The Arabic sentences refer to the political slogans on banners displayed in the streets of Beyrut. However, these banners have become meaningless to the Lebanese people. The title of his work can be translated as ‘empty words’ or simply ‘nonsense’.
Zakaria Ramhani from Tangier makes art with letters. His father had a painting studio. That was the reason why Zakaria immediately developed a great passion for paintings and decided to study plastic arts. He transforms traditional Islamic calligraphy into paintings, of which this work, entitled You never loved me Father, is an example. The upright figure is completely made up of Arabic letters. This interplay of letters creates the illusion of a face and clothing.
Mounir Fatmi hails from Morocco and studied plastic arts in Casablanca and Rome. His artwork can be seen in different museums all over the world, from Germany to Japan. In his work he desecrates and deconstructs religion. The optical illusion below is created by the projection of circular saws in motion, decorated with Arabic calligraphy, which have been put together in the middle of a room.
This colorful work is made by Arwa Abouon. She is originally from Libia, but now lives in Canada. Arwa studied plastic arts and photography at the Université Concordia in Montreal. Her art has been exhibited and celebrated both nationally and internationally. Al-Matar rahma can be translated as ‘rain is a blessing’ and shows us sixteen veiled women standing in line, together forming a rainbow.
Najia Mehadji was born in Paris, but lives both in France and Morocco these days. She obtained a masters degree in visual arts in Paris and got the opportunity to travel along with a theater company. She examined the body movements of the actors and visualised them in geometrical forms. Her artwork for this exposition consists of an enlarged picture of a whirling Sufi dancer. Body, spirit and light are merging into one.
These pictures were taken by Hassan Meer. This artist prefers to express his spiritual ideas through photo and video. He was born in Muscat, Oman. He obtained his diploma in plastic arts at the Savannah College of Art and Design in the United States. These pictures are part of a series named The Spiritual.
For Ehab el-Laban, the curator of this exposition, it is of high importance to highlight the Arab creativity. The Arab countries and their cultural characteristics are being shaped by and through artwork. The exhibition Art contemporain: 25 ans de créativité arabe can be visited in Paris until February 3, 2013.
Photos: L’Institut du Monde Arabe and the artists mentioned
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