the yet still uniformity of expresses the patterns spirituality. and Rather than symmetry Symbolic confiningmeanings the mindare absent from from depictions, "They made tilings that reflect geometricdesigns. This mathematics that were so open and does not sophisticated that we didnt unrestrict affront religious figure it out until the last 20 human intellect. traditions or 30 years.” -Harvard Professor, Peter LU on Islamic art from 1200s
Developments of ArabArt Throughout Time Textile Fragment 5th Century, Byzantine Panel 8th Century, Egypt Leaf from Quran manuscript 1137 Tile Assemblage 13th Century, Turkey
Development (continued)Door14th Century, Egypt Talismanic shirt 15th Century, India Painting of construction of castle 15th Century, Persia Painting of Emperor 17th Century
• As shown in the timeline, towards the 15th century, there was a shift in art, creeping away from the geometric shapes and calligraphy and focusing more on figurative art.• European artists such as Gentile Bellini (1429-1507) influenced Turkish artists and eventually Arab artists.• Although the geometric shapes and calligraphy are still prevalent, Western exposure led to the gradual demise of original The Healing of Pietro dei Islamic aesthetics. Ludovici -Gentile Bellini, 1501
The Islamic ban on figurative images was due to the strong worship of idols at the time by non-Muslims. As idolatry faded, pictures of humans were not deemed offensive to Islamic law leading to a strong adoption of Western art in the East. Western nations also gained political control over the Arab world, which led to exposure of Western art in Arab countries. Orientalists artwork was the first type of Western art exposed to the Arabs. In addition to the Orientalists, the Ottoman military trained their soldiers in modern military schools in Istanbul. The curriculum included courses in drawing and painting, influenced by Western art.
A New Direction While the influence the Western artists had on Arabs should not be undervalued, it was primarily those who were educated in the newly established art schools who made up the first generation of modern Arab artists. Those amateur artists had a strong impact in Iraq and Syria, where the impression of the Orientalist painters occurred after World War I. New educational policies allowed art classes to be available for all Arab youth. Previously only the upper class citizens could afford the training from European artists.
A New Direction (continued) During the 1950s Arab artists began to be influenced by modern art movements through stronger communication with the West and the return of Arab artists who received education from Western art schools. It was then when Arab artists became more independent and broke away from Orientalist styles. Arab artists primary goal was to re-define their identity. To do so, they re-presented their history, Islamic and pre-Islamic. Their pre-Islamic heritage was concealed due to Islamic rule so this process actually presented new ideas.
Gradual Transitions Newly formed art groups represented a social movement, focusing on political, social and intellectual issues at the time. In 1938 the Egyptian group, Art & Freedom was founded and affected by World War II as well as opposition against the British and Egyptian government. This prompted a revolution amongst artists, rejecting fascist art and adopting Surrealism. Following Art & Freedom, many other art groups emerged such as the Baghdad Modern Art Group in 1951 who adopted the Western training they received withJawad Salim, founder of Baghdad Art Group several contemporary styles.Baghdadiat (Two Women) - 1957
Turning the Page Artists and groups of the 1950s and 1960s were for the most part independent and focused on their own projects. As the 1970s approached Arab artists felt it was necessary to communicate more and combine their efforts. Short after, Arab governments intervened and demanded “authenticity”, which restricted artists to experiment with new styles. The political uncertainty led artists to move West. Starting in the 1990s art centers were established in order for Arab artists to network and increase exposure to the art world.
Step Away from Islamic Style The more recent Arab artists expressed their ideas, emotions, and visions originated from contemporary Arab cultures. Therefore the modern and contemporary art painted by Arab artists is not a perseverance or revival of Islamic art. Instead it is a portrayal of a new type of self expression. Being confined to Islamic art narrowed down Arabs artists’ opportunity to express their creativity. Arab artists were entering a period they were defining their identity right after a liberation. At the same time there was ambiguity in regards to their culture, history and tradition.
Development of Arab Art (Part 2) Naziha Salim Abdul Qadir One Nights Rassam Dream - 1978 1930s Mahmoud Said Sunset on Dia al-Azzawi The Nile Hurufiyah Garden at Luxor -1984 1945 Ismail Shammout Where To - 1953 Laila Shalwa Celcius - 1992
A New Chapter As Arab art shied away from Islamic aesthetics, artists expressed themselves on a more personal level. For example there was a greater focus on political and social subject matter as well as topics that would not have been deemed acceptable by Islamic standards. Arab women also took advantage of the chance to express themselves, an opportunity that was never given before.
Arabs In Todays SocietyIn more recent years, here in the West, one of the lastthings you’ll hear coming out of the Middle-East is art.During a period where the Middle-East is surroundedby war, political corruption, and poverty, art isbeginning to shed a new light on everything. At a timewhere some sort of revolution from the people isgreatly needed, some Arab artists are beginning to taketheir art into a new direction.The evolution of art has also resulted in letting Arabwomen express themselves in a new way as well. Thisnew wave of artists are delivering messages with theirartwork that touch Muslims and Arabs across theworld, touching on issues such as freedom ofspeech, social justice, and emancipation.
Marya Kazoun"After a bombexplodes, destroyinga building, the area iscleared. Then theempty spacebecomes a parkinglot.”"Then land valuesrise and anotherbuilding isconstructed on thesite. It is a non-stopcycle of destructionand reconstruction.”-Marya Kazoun,Lebanon Glasstress Exhibition
Walid Siti "The river is al- Zab, a tributary of the river in Dijla.” "The red ribbons hint at the terrible things that have happened in Iraq.” -Walid Siti, IraqWounded Water
Ghada Amer"I started doing it for myself. I wantedto break my own barrier, not thebarriers of the West or the Muslimworld. Everybody loves to see me as aMuslim, but they dont see its not aboutIslam, its about something else. Im nottrying to shock, its not perverse, Imnot doing this with a political agenda. Itjust happens that Im Muslim and awoman.”"I liked the idea of representing womenthrough the medium of thread becauseit is so identified with femininity. Iwanted to paint a woman withembroidery, too.” -Ghada Amer
Rose IssaVailed Liberty "The events of September 11 made-AES Art Group people notice that they know nothing about the Middle East or its culture." "There is a revival of a new generation who want to express themselves and have found a means either through the internet or digital video cameras. They are finding a much more accessible way of making themselves known to others. Also they are more aware of the funds and sponsorship available in the west.” -Rosa Issa, Irani-Lebanese critic and curator has played a large role in presenting Arab art to Europe.
More Work By Women Arab ArtistsUntitled-Jananne Al-Ani, Iraq “Pleasure Pillars” “Speechless” Shazia Sikander -Shirin Neshat
Conclusion The way Arab art has evolved over time is mind blowing. As the centuriesturned, so did the direction of Arab art. Initially adopting the style of Islamicart, modern and contemporary artists took a page out of the Western art world’snotebook. Although the calligraphy and geometric shapes are still ratherprominent in Arab countries, modern artists chose a more contemporaryapproach. As time went on Western influence grew and many Arab artistsimmigrated West allowing them to embrace their culture and nationality with theirartwork, not just religion. With no limits on their subject matter, modern Arabartists focused on several issues such as politics, freedom, gender and more. This allowed Arab women to express themselves as well which started awhole new revolution. In recent years times have been difficult for Arab countriesdue to political unrest, war, and poverty. The new direction women Arab artists aretook in expressing themselves ignited a much needed revolution for women andArabs.
BibliographyArab Art as an Early Indicator of Revolution By Aida Alami October 5,2011 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/06/world/africa/arab-art-as-an-early-indicator-of-revolution.html?_r=1&ref=designStrong Showing for Arab Artists at Venice BiennaleBy Sylvia SmithSeptember 6, 2011http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-14580858The New Generation of Arab Women ArtistsBy Malu HalasaMarch 28, 2003http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2003/mar/29/art.iraqandtheartsGeometric Patterns In Islamic Arthttp://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/geom/hd_geom.htmModern Arab Art: Formation of Arab Aesthetics (book)By Nada M. Shabout Published October 7, 2007