Thursday, January 29, 2009

Contemporary Middle East Art Show

Ramin Haerizadeh
What an attention grabbing, interesting collection of contemporary art emanating from the art inspired people of the Middle East and old world Persia. That's nothing new as art has held an ancient pride of place from the birthplace of Three Faiths. The Saatchi Gallery compiled a wide range of artists using an assortment of mediums involving the head, heart and hands of artiste and audience. The political or the profane are not held in abeyance as the freedom of expressions include a beautiful rendering of a deplorable West Bank checkpoint that illustrates what both sides endure and see differently. Charles Saatchi pulled artists with ancestral roots from Arabia and Persia, but domiciled all over the globe, for "Unveiled: New Art from the Middle East", the almost five month showing in Britain. (Qalandia by Wafa Hourani)
British collector Charles Saatchi has filled his new gallery with over 80 paintings, sculptures and installations from the Middle Ea st representing a vibrant art scene that he hopes will challenge people's assumptions about the region.

The works, gathered over the last four years by the Baghdad-born impresario, touch on sensitive topics. They depict the horror of conflicts past and present, explore suppressed sexuality and examine awoman's place in the Muslim world.
"Our sense of the Middle East is so dominated by reports of war, the tensions and the troubles," said Rebecca Wilson, the gallery's head of development. (Untitled Art from Shadi Ghadirian)
From prostitutes to praying women in ethereal white tinfoil, aptly named ghosts, which is a three dimensional echo from another culture. On a much smaller exhibition scale it is somewhat reminiscent of the Terracotta Army of Qin Shi Huang in Shaanxi Province, China with neatly aligned rows and a rhythmic repetitive use of material. The show opens Friday 30 January with a scheduled close on 6 May, 2009. There is a illustration book - 208 pages, available through the Saatchi Gallery that captures the art and include biographical sketches of some of the artists. Kader Attia's contribution is the Ghost display. (Pictured WshhWshh from Nadia Ayari)

Beirut Cautchouc is a Beirut floor mat map by Marwan Rechmaoui
(Photo Courtesy Reuters: Toby Melville)
Tala Madani
Since it is art, criticism to follow should be a hotbed of controversy. First, because many of the artists are Iranian while others live in a more westernized flamboyant habitat like Dubai. The art scene is seeing a number of means for Middle Eastern artworks to arrive on the stage. Qatar opened a spectacular edifice, Museum of Islamic Art, with the building itself as the first piece of art from the Chinese American architect, IM Pei.

The ever artful and always interesting author on Arabic art and architecture, daab, brings the beauty of
interiors to life in the book, Arabian Design. Forms and function and the influences from the past show up in very modern building or contemporary pieces of artwork throughout the Middle East.

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