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Article

Tunisian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in France.

Born 1952, in Tunisia.

Calligrapher, painter.

Abdallah Akar was born in southern Tunisia and arrived in Paris at the end of the 1960s. He studied drawing, painting and, in particular, calligraphy with the Iranian master Ghani Alani. He has taught calligraphy at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris since ...

Article

Pamela Elizabeth Grimaud

(b Tunis, Feb 2, 1935).

French fashion designer, of Tunisian birth. Alaïa is renowned for his ‘second skin’ fashions and masterful cutting techniques (see fig.). Christened the ‘King of Cling’ by fashion journalists, Alaïa rose to prominence in the 1980s following years of realizing commissions for a loyal and select clientele. His designs are modern, overtly feminine in their celebration of the female form and, in Alaïa’s own words: ‘not sexy, voluptuous’. Alaïa’s sculpted fashions have been known to render other designers’ fashions unwearable—they simply feel too large in comparison.

Born in southern Tunisia, Alaïa was raised by his maternal grandparents and at the age of 15 undertook the study of sculpture. Realizing soon after that sculpture was not his calling, and serendipitously passing a dressmaker’s window on his way to classes, he saw a sign for an assistant. He was hired for the task of finishing hems at five francs apiece. Alaïa rose quickly to become a favourite of Tunisian high society, copying for the local clientele the work of the great ...

Article

Aurélie Verdier

(b Saïda, Algeria, 1953).

French painter, sculptor, photographer, film maker, writer and installation artist of Algerian birth. Born to Spanish parents, he was much affected by North African as well as Southern European culture. He trained at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Le Havre. Despite a pervasive and diverse use of media, Alberola often stressed the coexistence of his different artistic practices as leading to painting alone. His paintings relied heavily on evocative narratives, at once personal and ‘historical’. Alberola conceived of his role as a storyteller, on the model of African oral cultures. Convinced that narratives could not be renewed, he argued that a painter’s main task was to reactivate his work through contact with his pictorial heritage. The main points of reference for his paintings of the early 1980s were Velázquez, Manet or Matisse, whose works he quoted in a personal way. In the early 1980s he undertook a series of paintings inspired by mythological subjects, which he combined with his own history as the principal subject-matter of his work. The biblical story of Susannah and the Elders as well as the Greek myth of Actaeon provided his most enduring subjects, both referring to the act of looking as taboo, as in ...

Article

Egyptian, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in the USA.

Born 1963, in Cairo.

Draughtswoman, embroiderer.

Ghada Amer grew up in Paris. She studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Nice before travelling to the USA where she attended the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She lives and works in both New York and Paris. In 2005 she was Artist in Residence at Kansas City Art Institute....

Article

Chika Okeke-Agulu

(b Cairo, May 22, 1963).

American painter, sculptor, fibre and installation artist of Egyptian birth. Amer, one of the few young artists of African origin to gain prominence in the late 1990s international art scene, studied painting in France at the Villa Arson EPIAR, Nice (MFA, 1989), and the Institut des Hautes Etudes en Art Plastique, Paris (1991). She subsequently moved to New York. She is best known for her canvases in which paint and embroidery are combined to explore themes of love, desire, sexuality, and women’s identity in a patriarchal world. Amer’s use of Embroidery, historically regarded as a genteel female craft, to create images of women fulfilling their sexual desires without inhibition, recalls the provocations and strategies of 1970s Western feminist art. However, her work also reflects her alarm at the incremental curbing of women’s social and political freedoms in her native Egypt following the rise of Islamic fundamentalism, especially after the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser ended in ...

Article

Tunisian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 20 February 1949, in Mjaz-El-Bab.

Painter.

Brahim Azzabi studied at the Technology and Art Institute in Tunis from 1975 to 1979. In 1976 and 1977, he spent a period of study at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris....

Article

Tunisian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 16 January 1947, in Tunis.

Illustrator, caricaturist, painter.

Belkhamsa Chedli spent two brief periods at the schools of fine art in Tunis and Paris. He works mostly for Tunisian newspapers and magazines. In 1983, he was awarded first prize for his cartoons by the association of Tunisian journalists. As well as his work as a cartoonist, he has also painted acrylics on canvas, works that display considerable care, precision and elegance. The themes of these paintings are taken from the world of fantasy, and are painted in cartoon style....

Article

Tunisian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 13 April 1946, in Tunis.

Painter, engraver.

Nouvelle Figuration.

After obtaining his diploma from the school of fine arts in Tunis in 1966, Ben Meftah went on to study engraving at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1966 to 1971...

Article

Tunisian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 9 October 1951, in Maamoura.

Painter, ceramicist.

In 1977 Khaled Ben Slimane graduated from the Institut Technologique d'Art in Tunis, specialising in ceramics. In 1978-79 he worked at the Massana School in Barcelona and in 1982-83 in Japan.

He employs acrylics in his paintings and is strongly influenced by Arab calligraphy, which appears both in a concealed and an explicit form. The rows of symbols, or writings in various colours, are arranged between parallel horizontal lines, and decorative elements are only allowed as a framing device for his compositions....

Article

Tunisian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 10 December 1947, in Tunis.

Painter. Allegorical subjects.

From 1967 to 1974, Fathi Ben Zakour studied at the school of fine arts in Tunis. He began exhibiting in 1971, in particular in Tunis, and, since 1975, he has also shown his work in Düsseldorf and in Canada. In the same year he set up an atelier-gallery at Sidi-Bou-Said....

Article

Hasan-Uddin Khan

(b Sousse, Tunisia, Dec 21, 1940).

French architect, active in Morocco. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, concentrating his studies on urban development and craft traditions. In 1968 he received his diploma and became a registered architect. He left France in 1969 and travelled in several countries, working in Casablanca before settling in Marrakesh in 1971, where he established his own practice. This remained a small one, allowing him as designer to retain control of every detail of his work. In both layout and design, Boccara’s architecture is rooted in the traditions of Islamic architecture in Morocco (see Islamic art, §II, 7(v)), which is characterized by refined decoration. His built works are not numerous but have been influential in developing a vocabulary for Moroccan architecture. They vary from the small Abtan House (1984), located in a palm grove outside Marrakesh, to the large, incomplete Opera House there (begun 1984...

Article

Tunisian, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in France from 1972.

Born 30 May 1960, in Tunis.

Painter, engraver.

From 1980 to 1985 Meriem Bouderbala studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Aix en Provence. She lives and works in Nice. Her canvases are filled with wide bands of dark colour intersected by lighter bands. She uses greys, blue-greys, beiges and blacks. The material lets itself go from one stroke to another, evoking the weather, the dust, the sand, the light, the grain of the rock....

Article

Susan T. Goodman

(b Meknès, Morocco, 1942).

Israeli painter and mixed-media artist of Moroccan birth. He emigrated to Israel in 1949 and studied art at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem (graduating in 1971) and the Central School of Art in London before receiving a BA degree in Social Science and History of Art at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1973). His mixed-media works of the 1970s conveyed his sense of physical dislocation at being estranged as a Moroccan refugee in Israel; the human figure appeared as an essential element of this theme of displacement and homelessness. In 1975 he returned to drawing and painting in works such as Analogical Work on Computers (1977; Tel Aviv Mus. A.), in which faceless, generalized figures function as symbols in a non-specific space. From 1975 to 1977 Cohen Gan lived in New York, where he studied at Columbia University (MFA, 1977), before settling in Tel Aviv, where he combined scientific systems with introspective autobiographical references in narrative paintings such as the series ...

Article

Egyptian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in France from 1974.

Born 27 October 1949, in Cairo.

Painter, sculptor, engraver. Figures.

Sayed Darwiche learnt painting from his father, a calligrapher. He left Egypt after the two Egyptian-Israeli wars. His drawings and paintings show the figures of men, women and children, but through a violent form of expressionist deformation which approaches the work of the Abstract Expressionist artist Wilhem De Kooning, though his chosen blend of colours gives a sense of softness and luxury. Sayed Darwiche's sculptures, carved from old wood or quarried stone, come close to abstraction. They consist of curved, taut volumes whose sensual fullness contrasts with the ruggedness of his drawings and paintings....

Article

Tunisian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 5 October 1954, in Tunis.

Painter.

Nureddin El Hani finished his studies at the Tunis technology institute in 1977, and in 1980 he obtained a doctorate in aesthetics from the Sorbonne. He spent 1981-82 at the Cité des Arts in Paris....

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

Allan M. Craven

(b Liverpool, March 3, 1942).

English architect. Having studied at the University of Manchester School of Architecture (1961–7), he worked briefly in Montreal, in connection with Expo ’67, and in Tripoli, where he was a housing architect for the Libyan government. From 1968 to 1971 he was an assistant to Arne Jacobsen in Copenhagen, for whom he worked on the design of the Kuwait Central Bank (built 1973–6), Kuwait City. His doctoral dissertation (1979) has Jacobsen’s work as its subject-matter. In 1972 he formed the practice of Rod Hackney & Associates at Macclesfield, Ches, and soon became known for the refurbishment of several brick-built terrace houses (1972–5) around Black Road in the town. Although intended for demolition, the houses were saved and then improved and altered in accordance with the wishes of the inhabitants. The significant contribution of the residents in determining what alterations were made and assisting in the execution of the work meant that the scheme was subsequently seen as one of the pioneering examples of ...

Article

Tunisian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active since 1968 in France.

Born 16 November 1948, in Tazerka.

Painter. Figures, interiors with figures.

Ahmed Hajri was an electrician whose drawings attracted the attention of the painter Jean Dubuffet, who encouraged him to concentrate on painting. He has contributed to many Salon exhibitions since ...

Article

Egyptian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active in Italy.

Born 1957, in Cairo.

Painter, installation artist. Figures, portraits, animals.

Fathi Hassan was born in Nubia and first worked as an actor and a scenographer. In 1984, he obtained a diploma at the school of art in Naples. He has lived and worked in Italy since ...

Article

S. J. Vernoit

(b Aïn Beida, Jan 20, 1947).

Algerian painter and graphic artist. He studied at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Algiers, and in Paris at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Ecole des Arts Décoratifs and Institut d’Urbanisme de l’Académie de Paris. After returning to Algeria he worked at the Bureau d’Etudes des Tanneries and the Bureaux d’Etudes des Textiles, and he then went to Tunisia, where he became cultural adviser at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Tunis. Inspired by the calligraphic movement in Arab painting in the 1960s, he explored the potential of abstract calligraphic compositions in graphic art to great effect (e.g. the engravings Testament of the Enemy, 1981) and also utilized such media as wood, silk, parchment and ceramics for this purpose, often with a minimal use of colour. Since 1970 he has exhibited his work in Europe, the Middle East, Japan, South America and the USA, and has won numerous awards.

Third World Biennale of Graphic Art...