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Article

Iraqi, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active since 1974 active in France.

Born 12 September 1948, in Shamyah (Mesopotamia).

Painter.

Akeel Abbas has shown his works in a number of group exhibitions, including the 2nd Arab Biennale, Kuwait in 1971; Centre Culturel Irakien, Paris in 1975...

Article

Israeli, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 11 November 1961, in Umm el Fahm.

Painter (including mixed media), draughtsman. Military subjects, figures, still-lifes, animals.

Asim Abu-Shakra was educated at the college of fine arts in Tel Aviv, where he worked as a teacher in 1987 and ...

Article

Andrew Weiner

(b Beirut, 1925).

Lebanese painter and writer active in the USA. Daughter of a Greek Christian mother and a Syrian Muslim father, Adnan was educated in Lebanon before going on to study philosophy at the Sorbonne, Harvard, and the University of California, Berkeley. For many years she taught aesthetics at Dominican College, San Rafael, CA; she also lectured and taught at many other colleges and universities. During the 1970s Adnan regularly contributed editorials, essays, and cultural criticism to the Beirut-based publications Al-Safa and L’Orient-Le Jour. In 1978 she published the novel Sitt Marie Rose, which won considerable acclaim for its critical portrayal of cultural and social politics during the early years of the Lebanese Civil War. Adnan published numerous books of poetry, originating in her opposition to the American war in Vietnam and proceeding to encompass topics as diverse as the landscape of Northern California and the geopolitics of the Middle East. Her poetry served as the basis for numerous works of theater and contemporary classical music....

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

Turkish, 20th – 21st century, female.

Born 31 May 1952, in Divrigi-Curek.

Painter. Landscapes with figures, urban landscapes, landscapes.

Nevbahar Aksoy studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1969, as well as at the Chapelain Midy studio. In 1975, she was awarded her diploma from the school of applied arts in Istanbul....

Article

Turkish, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active also active in France.

Born 2 September 1953, in Izmit.

Painter, collage artist. Landscapes, urban landscapes.

Groupe Art-cloche.

Neveser Aksoy studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris under Mattey de l’Étang and received a DEA in fine arts from the University of Paris I....

Article

Lebanese, 20th – 21st century, male.

Active also active in France.

Born 1962, in Saïda.

Painter, draughtsman, illustrator. Figures, portraits.

This artist is a self-taught book and magazine illustrator who divides his time between Beirut and Paris. He has exhibited drawings and paintings at one-man shows in Beirut (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

Lebanese, 20th – 21st century, female.

Active in England.

Born 1947, in Beirut.

Watercolourist, pastellist, draughtswoman, illustrator.

Ida Alamuddine studied art in London from 1967 to 1971, but broke off her studies for a six-year period before resuming in the USA (1981 to 1983) and once more in London (...

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

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

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

Mitra Monir Abbaspour

[Fondation Arabe pour l’Image]

Non-profit organization established in 1997 in Beirut, Lebanon, with a mission ‘to collect, preserve, and study photographs from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Arab diaspora’. Its growing collection contains more than 400,000 photographs that date from the mid-19th century to the present. Today the Arab Image Foundation serves as both a public research archive and a repository for its members’ art and scholarship.

The Arab Image Foundation was co-founded by Lebanese photographers Fouad Elkoury (b 1952) and Samer Mohdad (b 1964), and artist Akram Zaatari (b 1966). Executive Director Zeina Arida (b 1970) has since overseen its administration and fundraising. A group of artists and scholar members, along with Arida, form the Board of Directors, which is responsible for the acquisition of photographs, approval of archival projects, and conceptual direction of the Arab Image Foundation. Members of the foundation, including artists such as ...

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

Gordon Campbell

(b Tel Aviv, 1951).

Israeli designer, active in Britain. In 1981 Arad founded, with Caroline Thorman, One Off Ltd, a design studio, workshops and showroom in Covent Garden, London. In 1989, again with Caroline Thorman, he founded Ron Arad Associates, an architecture and design practice in Chalk Farm. In 1994 he established the Ron Arad Studio in Como (Italy). His most famous design is the Rover Chair, which recycled used Rover car seats. He has long had an interest in the use of steel, and the Bookwork bookshelves (...

Article

Dennis Raverty

(b Tehran, Jul 10, 1939).

American sculptor of Iranian birth. Armajani studied in Iran at the University of Tehran before immigrating to the USA in 1960 to complete his studies in philosophy at Macalester College in Saint Paul, MN, where he settled permanently. He became a naturalized US citizen in 1967. Armajani used the language of vernacular architecture in his sculpture to create spaces into which the viewer moves, sometimes being literally surrounded by the sculpture. Cellar doors, back stairways, loading docks, benches, bridges, porches, gazebos, and other such homely architectural elements are the inspiration for his sculptures and installations. Early in Armajani’s career he was on the faculty of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he lectured on philosophy and conceptual art, but he left teaching in 1975 to concentrate exclusively on his sculpture.

Armajani stated repeatedly that his intention was to create a “neighborly” space, that is, a space that brings people together. His public sculpture is perhaps best thought of as social sculpture, in the sense meant by postwar German artist Joseph Beuys: a community-seeking, politically progressive, public art. Armajani’s many commissions include the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge in Minneapolis (...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Morristown, NJ, Oct 29, 1955).

American sculptor. He studied Oriental and Middle Eastern cultures and languages before later graduating in Painting and Drawing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA 1993). Ashkin gained international recognition in the mid-1990s for his tabletop dioramas of inhospitable, often deserted, American landscapes. Influenced by Robert Smithson’s interest in the concept of entropy as well as more traditional landscape discourses such as Romanticism and the Sublime, Ashkin’s work has often suggested vast inhuman wastelands, although their real scale might only be a few square feet. His earliest works concentrated on semi-arid deserts, but soon the dominant motif switched to semi-stagnant marshes. No. 33 (1996; see exh. cat.), typical of the numerical nomination of his work, depicts a long, thin freeway in a swampy wilderness; a single truck drives along and telegraph wires line the road, suggesting vast distances. No. 15 (1996; see exh. cat.) is smaller in size, though again the tiny scale of the trucks that pass in convoy over a swampy, pock-marked landscape suggest great expanse. More recently Ashkin has expanded his practice into video and photography exploring the Sublime. ...

Article

Michael Jay McClure

(b Istanbul, 1961).

Turkish video and installation artist, active also in England and Pakistan. He was educated at Mimar Sinan University, the Sorbonne, Paris, Los Angeles Santa Monica College, and the University of California, Los Angeles (MFA, 1988). Ataman holds a prominent place among artists exploring identity, sexuality, documentation, and the cultural politics of the Middle East and its diasporas; his work echoes that of Shirin Neshat, Omer Fast, Mona Hatoum, and the more commercial filmmaker Fatih Akin, among others.

Producing multi-channel ‘video sculptures’, Ataman explores states of psychological, cultural, and social displacement, often employing massive amounts of footage in a quasi-documentary style. An early piece, Women Who Wear Wigs (1999; see images tab for additional illustration), is a representative example. On a four-channel display, four Turkish women reveal their reasons for donning wigs: a reporter who recently lost her hair due to chemotherapy, a transsexual prostitute forced to shave her head by the police, a targeted terrorist who disguises herself, and a student banned from wearing a traditional headscarf in school. The wig, which conceals and connects these women, parallels how Ataman uses video: as a medium that both reveals and obfuscates its subjects. A spectator must negotiate not only the truth of the stories but also their syncopated broadcasts distributed over the space of the exhibition. Indeed, Ataman often uses the situation of the screens to disorienting sculptural effect. In ...

Article

Syrian, 20th – 21st century, male.

Born 1950.

Painter.

Yakzan Atassi showed at the Salon des Grands et Jeunes d’Aujourd’hui in Paris in 1988.