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Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Beirut, 1925).

Lebanese–American artist and writer. Daughter of a Greek Christian mother and a Syrian Muslim father, she was educated in Lebanon and at universities in France and the United States. For many years she taught the philosophy of art at Dominican College, San Rafael, CA. She also lectured and taught at many other colleges and universities until her retirement in the late 1970s. Also a novelist and poet, she combined Arabic calligraphy with modern language in her drawings, paintings, ceramics and tapestries. She explored the relationship between word and image in over 200 “artist books,” in which she transcribed in her own hand Arabic poetry from a variety of sources.

E. Adnan: Sitt Marie Rose (Paris, 1978; Eng. trans., Sausalito, CA, 1982) [novel about the Lebanese Civil War]E. Adnan with R. Koraichi and J.-E. Bencheika: Rachid Koraichi: L’écriture passion (Algiers, 1988)E. Adnan: In the Heart of Another Country (San Francisco, 2005)...

Article

Marcella Nesom-Sirhandi

(b Delhi, India, Feb 4, 1941; d Lahore, Pakistan, Jan 18, 1999).

Pakistani painter, sculptor and printmaker. Educated in Pakistan and abroad, he has consciously and successfully synthesized Eastern and Western aesthetic traditions. In 1963, a year after graduating from the National College of Arts, Lahore, he joined the faculty as a lecturer in art, later becoming a professor and head of the Department of Fine Arts. His studies abroad have included post-graduate work in London (1966–7, 1968–9) and the United States (1987–9).

Like many of his colleagues, Zahoor was influenced by his mentor, Shakir ‛Ali, principal of the National College of Art from 1961 to 1975. Both artists were motivated by art history, philosophy and aesthetics. Zahoor’s non-figurative paintings of the 1960s evolved into tangible—though not always realistic—images addressing the dualities of space and time, East and West. Most of his triptychs and single canvases were conceived within a grid that provides a stabilizing structure for their compositions. This grid refers to Zahoor’s admiration for the American artist ...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

[‛Alī Wijdān; Wijdan]

(b Baghdad, Aug 29, 1939).

Jordanian painter and art patron. She studied history at Beirut University College (formerly Beirut College for Women), receiving a BA in 1961. In 1993 she took a PhD in Islamic Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. After serving in the Jordanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and representing her country at United Nations meetings in Geneva and New York, Ali founded the Royal Society of Fine Arts in Jordan in 1979 and the Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts in 1980 (see Jordan, Hashemite Kingdom of). In 1988 she organized in Amman the Third International Seminar on Islamic Art, entitled ‘Problems of Art Education in the Islamic World’, and in 1989 she organized the exhibition Contemporary Art from the Islamic World at the Barbican Centre, London. In 2001 she founded the Faculty of Arts and Design at the University of Jordan, and has received numerous awards in recognition of her work in the arts....

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Tehran, 1934).

Iranian sculptor. Trained at the College of Decorative Arts, Tehran, he held his first solo exhibition at the Iran-India Center, Tehran in 1964. Inspired by Achaemenid and Assyrian art as well as by Babylonian carvings and inscriptions, Arabshahi has been associated with Hussein Zenderoudi, Parviz Tanavoli, and the Saqqakhana movement. His work has been shown in Iran, Europe, and the United States. Among his major commissions are sculptures and architectural reliefs for the Office for Industry and Mining, Tehran (...

Article

Yasir Sakr

(b Jerusalem, 1945).

Jordanian architect . He graduated from Darmstadt University in 1970. Badran’s career is marked by three distinct phases of development, all of which express his capacity for lucid visualization. In his early formalist phase his work reflected modernist inclinations. Committed to a utopian social vision, in each of his designs Badran proposed a redefinition of form, social function and associated modes of behaviour. This phase is exemplified by a low-cost housing project in Bonn (1972) and Handal’s Residence (1975) in Amman. In his second phase his works reflected historicist tendencies by drawing on traditional images for collective communication, for example Queen Alia neighbourhood (1982) in Amman and the Justice Palace Complex (1984) in Riyadh. Badran’s work further evolved into a third stage, a dialectic between modernism and traditionalism, expressed through metaphors operating at two levels. Sensory metaphors present tectonic and iconographic analogies with natural forms and historical artefacts, adapting the designed space-form to its immediate regional setting. Cognitive metaphors endeavour to establish conceptual analogies with the ordering principles and relationships that underlie tradition, through the overall configuration of the design. The third phase of Badran’s career is characterized by a winning entry for the international competition of the State Mosque (...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Jerusalem, 1942).

Palestinian-born painter. Raised in Jerusalem, Boullata studied at the Accademia di Belle Arte in Rome from 1961 to 1965. After the 1967 war, he pursued graduate study at the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, DC (1969–70) and then taught at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University (1982–4). He was a Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowship to Morocco in 1993–4 and received a fellowship from the Ford Foundation in 2001, finally moving to Menton in southern France. His work, mainly executed in silkscreen and acrylic on canvas and paper, investigates the correspondence between visual and verbal communication. He repeats words or phrases in geometric grids of strong colors, but some of his most effective works are conceived as hand-made “artists books,” including Beginnings (1992), Three Quartets (1994), A Clock of Clouds (1995), Twelve Lanterns for Granada (...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Bandırma, 1935).

Turkish calligrapher, marbler, and connoisseur. He attended high school at Haydarpaşa Lisesi and then graduated from the School of Pharmacology in the Faculty of Medicine at Istanbul University. He worked as a pharmacist until 1977, when he became the director of the Türkpetrol Foundation, a position he held until 2007. Derman studied calligraphy and the arts of the book with many of the leading experts in Istanbul, including Mahir Iz, Süheyl Ünver, Macid Ayral, Halim Özyazıcı and Necmeddin Okyay, often said to have been the last representative of the Ottoman tradition of book arts. Derman received his license to practice in 1380/1960 following the traditional Ottoman system by replicating a copy (taqlīd) of a quatrain in nasta‛līq (Turk. ta‛līq) by the Safavid expert Mir ‛Imad. In the fall of 1985 he joined the faculty of Marmara University and Mimar Sinan University (formerly the State Academy of Fine Arts), where formal instruction in calligraphy was reinstituted in ...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Tripoli, Libya, 1945).

Libyan painter. He returned to Libya in 1970 after graduating from the Plymouth School of Architecture and Design in England. In 1974 he was appointed consultant to the Festival of Islam in London, and in 1981 he settled in England. He typically uses individual letter forms based on the maghribī style of script typical of North Africa, setting one or two large letters against a richly textured abstract ground with accompanying excerpts from Arabic and world literature that address social and moral issues. His works have been exhibited in more than 60 solo and group exhibitions and can be found in many major museums. Chairman of Muslim Cultural Heritage Center in London, he has also been involved with several other cultural and intellectual institutions there.

A. O. Ermes: Ali Omar Ermes: Art and Ideas: Works on Paper (exh. cat., Oxford, Ashmolean, 1992)A. O. Ermeswith S. Rizvi: Reaching Out: Conversations on Islamic Art with Ali Omar Ermes...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Shiraz, Jan 15, 1955).

Iranian sculptor and installation artist, active in England. She left Iran in 1973 and studied at the Chelsea School of Art, London (1976–9), then was a junior fellow at Cardiff College of Art (1979–80). Although she settled in London and was often bracketed with a group of young British sculptors, including Anish Kapoor and Richard Deacon, her work was distinguished by the interpretation of a Persian cultural background through Western sculptural language. Her early work consisted of allusive environments and biomorphic sculptural forms, demonstrating an attempt, echoed in later work, to embody spiritual concepts physically. As it developed, her work became more autonomous, austere and concerned with materials that could symbolize a spiritual transcendence of materiality (see figs 1 and 2; see image page for alternate views). The drawings Dancing around my Ghost (graphite and acrylic on paper, 7 parts, each 1.0×1.0 m, 1992–3...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Dhaka, Dec 10, 1970).

British film maker of Bangladeshi birth. She studied at Manchester Metropolitan University (1990–92); the Rijksakademie von beeldende Kunsten, Amsterdam (1997–8) and Middlesex University (1995). European avant-garde film has been a major influence on Islam, and her earliest work, dating from the mid-1990s, centred on the material character of film. These interests soon evolved into an examination of how the uncanny intersects with the everyday: Refuse (1996), a set of colour slides mounted on a lightbox, depicts the varied rubbish that was left under a tree over the space of a year. Her more recent work has returned to examining the formal language of film. In Stare Out (Blink) (1998; see Wilson, 2001), the negative image of a woman’s face is projected onto a screen until it disappears with a sudden flash, leaving the viewer with an after-image lingering momentarily on the retina; the work dramatizes the activity of visual memory and the way in which the brain processes information. In the companion piece, ...

Article

John Musgrove

(b Karachi, June 28, 1942).

Pakistani architect. She graduated at Oxford Polytechnic (Dip. Arch. 1964) and worked in Britain and Germany before setting up practice in Karachi (1965). Of three early houses, her own and those for Commodore Haq (1967) and Naser ud-deen Khan (1969), all in Karachi, the latter is perhaps most characteristic in amalgamating the simplicity of vernacular dry-climate houses with a sophisticated interpretation of European modernism. In these buildings the two principal aspects of Lari’s work are already evident: the development of an appropriate modern style and a major interest in the socio-cultural aspects of housing, using appropriate technologies and self-help methods. The Anguri Bagh housing (1978) at Lahore, for example, was built mainly by unskilled labour and has shady streets, shared open spaces and screened balconies to supplement the limited enclosed areas. Similar patterns are maintained in other work such as the mud-brick barracks (...

Article

(b Najaf, 1944).

Iraqi calligrapher, painter, printmaker and writer, active in Paris (see fig.). He studied painting and calligraphy in Baghdad from 1960 to 1969, and in 1969 exhibited his work at the Iraqi Artists’ Society exhibition and at the French Cultural Centre in Baghdad. The same year he went to Paris and studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts until 1975. Thereafter he lived in Paris. Although influenced by traditional calligraphy, he developed his own calligraphic style, which incorporated painterly elements. In many of his works, for example Je suis le feu tapi dans la pierre. Si tu es de ceux qui font jailler l’étincelle alors frappe (1984; Paris, Inst. Monde Arab.), he employed proverbs and quotations from a range of sources. He also researched and wrote about Arabic calligraphy.

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Shiraz, 1963).

Iranian artist. Moshiri graduated from the California Institute of Arts in 1984 and experimented with installations, video art and painting before returning to Tehran in 1991. He became known for a series of large oil paintings on canvas showing monumental jars and bowls with richly textured surfaces and flowing calligraphy that he began in 2001. The form and cracked and weathered surface of the jars reflects his fascination with archaeology, and the texts on them contain poems in nasta‛līq script. In some cases, his paintings contain only letters or numbers. Inspired by calligraphic practice sheets, known as siyāh-mashq, and by the alphanumeric system (abjad), he plays with the shape rather than the meaning of words. His more conceptual pieces include a vitrine of gilded objects (2003), Rogue gun installation (2004), and Ultimate Toy–Legold (2004). He has held a number of solo exhibitions, including one at Leighton House, London (...

Article

Francis Summers

(b Qazvin, Iran, March 26, 1957).

American photographer and video artist of Iranian birth. She studied at the University of California, Berkeley, where she was awarded a BFA in 1979 and an MFA in 1982. She became involved in the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York when she was unable to return to Iran for political reasons. Years later, having settled in New York, she began making art in response to the situation she found after a visit to the post-Shah religious state. Using the Islamic veil, or chador, she made photographs that examined stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed by the veil but also empowered by their refusal of the Western colonial gaze, as in Women of Allah (1993–7) and Rebellious Silence (1994; see 2000 exh. cat., p. 61). In these works Neshat is often posed with a gun, her image overlaid in Islamic script, as a way of confronting the Western view of Islam as both incomprehensible and dangerous. In ...

Article

Robin Holmes

(b Paris, April 1, 1963).

French photographer, video artist, and installation artist of Algerian descent, active in the UK. Born in Paris in 1963, Zineb Sedira relocated to England in 1986. In 1995 she earned a BA in critical fine art practice with a focus on post-colonial studies at Central Saint Martins School of Art. She finished an MFA in Media at the Slade School of Art in 1997 and conducted research studies at the Royal College of Art until 2003. Through the use of self-portraiture, family narrative, and images of the Mediterranean, her work has addressed ethnic, religious, and gender identities as well as issues of stereotype, displacement, and migration. She draws on her Algerian heritage in much of her work, evoking North Africa through the integration of traditional Islamic forms and motifs into her installations. In her 1997 work Quatre générations de femmes, Sedira incorporated repeated images of her mother, daughter, and herself into traditional Islamic tile patterns (...

Article

W. Ali

(Rashad) [Shawwa, Layla Rashād]

(b Gaza, April 4, 1940).

Palestinian painter and jewellery designer. She was trained in Cairo at the Leonardo Da Vinci School of Art (1957–8), and in Rome at the Accademia di Belle Arti (1958–64) and the Accademia di S Giacomo (1960–64); she also attended summer courses at the School of Seeing in Salzburg, where she worked under Oskar Kokoschka. On returning to Gaza she was appointed supervisor for arts and crafts education in UNRWA schools (1965–7) and a UNESCO lecturer in child education at training courses for UNRWA teachers (1966–7). From 1967 to 1975 she worked in Beirut as a full-time painter and children’s book illustrator. In 1977 she collaborated with a team of architects on the construction of the Cultural Centre in Gaza, executing large stained-glass windows for the project. In 1987 she settled in London. Her paintings are distinguished by their bold style and subject-matter. After a period early in her career when she depicted fictional Oriental cities and horses, she dealt with contemporary issues, such as the role and aspirations of women (e.g. ...

Article

Hasan-Uddin Khan

(b Cairo, Aug 7, 1943).

Egyptian architect. He graduated from Ain-Shams University in Cairo in 1965. Between 1965 and 1970 he lectured at the university whilst studying and working with his mentor Hassan Fathy, the well-known proponent of indigenous architecture. In 1971 he went into private practice, eventually establishing offices in Cairo, Jiddah and Ashford, Kent. From 1993 he was based in Miami, Florida. He acted as an adviser to the Ministry of Tourism in Egypt (1972) and as consultant to UNESCO (1979–80). In 1980 he won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the Halawa house in Agamy, Egypt, completed in 1975. The two-storey house was built around a courtyard, and the articulation of space was handled with great sensitivity and simplicity. Openings in the white walls filter light to the interior through carved wooden screens (Arab. mashrabiyyas), and much of the courtyard remains in shadow, staying cool during the heat of the day. From this small vacation house El-Wakil went on to design larger houses such as the spectacular Al Sulaiman Palace in Jiddah, which uses the same principles but on a more lavish and larger scale. For a short time the architect toyed with other expressions of form but quickly returned to his exploration of tradition. El-Wakil’s most convincing designs have been those for mosques (for illustration ...

Article

Margaret Graves

(b. Ventura, California, 1942).

American calligrapher. Having converted to Islam in the 1960s while still a teenager, he studied Islamic calligraphy, training with A. S. Ali Nour in Tangier, Morocco, and later studying at the British Museum in London. In the 1980s he felt his work had reached a plateau and decided to re-learn the art of calligraphy in the Ottoman style. Hence in 1984 he went to Istanbul to train with the Turkish calligraphers Hasan Çelebi and Ali Alparslan at the Research Center for Islamic History, Art, and Culture (IRCICA), where he was tutored in thuluth, naskh and nasta‛līq scripts. In 1997 he became the first American to receive an icazet or diploma from IRCICA for his abilities as a calligrapher. His calligraphic works are executed within meticulously observed traditional modes, reflected also in his insistence on making his own reed and bamboo pens. His works typically reflect the traditions of the Ottoman masters of the 19th century, with illuminations in the Turkish Baroque style. A pioneer in the field of Islamic calligraphy in the USA, his works have been exhibited widely in the USA and the Middle East. He has also revived the ancient art of making astrolabes, and examples of this aspect of his work are held in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the USA. Based for many years in Arlington, Virginia, in ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Istanbul, 1901; d Amman, Sept 5, 1991).

Turkish painter . The daughter of Shakir Pasha, a Turkish general, diplomat and historian, she was brought up in a distinguished family of statesmen and intellectuals. She went to the Academy of Fine Arts, Istanbul, in 1920, where she studied under Namık Ismail (1890–1935), and then to Paris in 1927, where she studied at the Académie Ranson under Roger Bissière. On returning to Istanbul, she joined an association of young Turkish painters known as the D Group, which was founded in 1933. In 1934 she married the Hashemite prince Zeid El-Hussein, a diplomat, and accompanied him on postings to Berlin, London and Paris. She had private exhibitions in Istanbul in 1944 and 1945, and then in 1946 at Izmir and the Musée Cernuschi, Paris. After World War II, when she moved back to western Europe, she had further exhibitions in London, Paris, Brussels, New York and elsewhere. She participated in the ...