Middle Eastern and North African artists have been celebrated for their long history of powerful pieces of work. Each piece often delves into a rich cultural heritage, which also aims to educate others about the artist’s roots.
These are the top 5 need to know artists from the Middle East who, through their body of work, remind the world how vibrant their heritage is:
Maha Malluh is a Saudi artist who turns everyday consumer items from Saudi Arabia’s pop culture into contemporary art. Using mundane items such as bowls and old cassette tapes, Malluh transforms these items into artistic symbols to represent the good in the world. Maha Malluh is also known for her installation which was entitled, “Food For Thought Amma Baad” – which means “Whatever Comes After”. The piece is an arrangement of 2,400 colorful cassette tapes placed together. The tapes merge together a series of words that touch on the struggles faced by Arab women.
Shayma Al Mughairy
Omani artist, Shayma Al Mughairy grew up in the emirate of Umm Al Quwain and is the first known sand artist in the Arab region. She uses this medium to spread awareness on pressing issues though storytelling. Known as the “Queen of Sand”, Al Mughairy creates drawings to music in a performance which is projected onto large screens.
Besher Koshaji caught the eyes of many at Art Dubai. The Syrian abstract artist’s story and relevant works come from a time when he was seeking refuge in Jordan in 2012, using his art to pay tribute to people he left behind. Koshaji uses lines and sections to break down his subjects, distorting his original subject as a subtle way of representing loss.
Lalla Essaydi is a photographer. The Moroccan-born artist challenges the stereotypes places on Muslim women as she also combines Islamic calligraphy with representations of the female identity and physique. Essaydi has the objective to destroy those stereotypes by highlighting those social issues and educating the public.
Syrian artist Tammam Azzam uses his art in protest as a result of the war and political situation in his home country. Once of his most renowned pieces of works, entitled Freedom Graffiti, went viral due to his own interpretation of Gustav Klimt’s iconic piece of art, The Kiss, which was placed over a building ravaged by war. Azzam’s art depicts a powerful combination of beauty and devastation.