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Maymanah Farhat

A Creative Upsurge; Syrian Art Today (Part Two)

[Detail of Abdul Karim Majdal Al-Beik's

[Syria’s Apex Generation highlights post-uprising art as an introduction to the rich history of painting in Syria. Featuring the works of Abdul Karim Majdal Al-Beik, Nihad Al Turk, Othman Moussa, Mohannad Orabi, and Kais Salman, the exhibition and its accompanying publication explore a new school of painting in the midst of expansion despite the disintegration of the Damascus art scene, its original center. Informed by extensive traditions of expressionism, symbolism, and ...

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A Creative Upsurge; Syrian Art Today (Part One)

[Nazir Nabaa's

[Syria’s Apex Generation highlights post-uprising art as an introduction to the rich history of painting in Syria. Featuring the works of Abdul Karim Majdal Al-Beik, Nihad Al Turk, Othman Moussa, Mohannad Orabi, and Kais Salman, the exhibition and its accompanying publication explore a new school of painting in the midst of expansion despite the disintegration of the Damascus art scene, its original center. Informed by extensive traditions of expressionism, symbolism, and ...

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In Conversation with Artist Nadia Ayari

[Nadia Ayari's

Since the start of her artistic practice over a decade ago, Nadia Ayari has engaged painting and the history of its development with marked intensity and seriousness. Adding to the complexity that one finds in her usage of the medium is her subject matter, which is not easily decipherable; figural but somehow abstracted and simultaneously sensual with tinges of the grotesque. Her “figures” are outwardly peculiar, psychologically laden, and allegorically political—a ...

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Samia Halaby's Radical Abstraction

[Samia Halaby in her studio at Indiana University shortly before receiving an MFA in painting (1962). Image courtesy of the artist.]

Not long after accepting a teaching position at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1964, Samia Halaby decided to abandon the painterly abstraction that she had developed while receiving her artistic training from universities in the Midwest. In search of a new start, she came across a fifteenth-century painting by Flemish master Petrus Christus in the collection of the Nelson Atkins Museum, an unassuming work that would nonetheless change the direction of her art. Virgin and ...

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An Introduction to Kareem Risan's "The Book of Sectarianism"

[Kareem Risan,

The Euphrates is a long procession Cities pat its shoulders as palm trees weep —Sinan Antoon [1] In these ashen years following the 2003 American invasion of Iraq, Kareem Risan has produced over two dozen art books. Created as one-of-a-kind artifacts, some are bound and can be unfolded, expanded, and positioned upright to be viewed in the round, while others are comprised of separate panels amassed in a portfolio or box. During this long period of charting Iraq’s ...

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Saloua Raouda Choucair: Reinventing Abstraction

[Saloua Raouda Choucair,

Saloua Raouda Choucair. Edited by Jessica Morgan. London: Tate Publishing, 2013. One of the many myths of the Western canon is that European modern artists invented abstraction. Despite the known existence of pre-modern non-objective art among a number of non-Western cultures, twentieth-century European forays into pure abstraction are isolated as having developed radically new pictorial stances that changed worldviews across continents. That is not to say that what these ...

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Mais Darwazah's "The Dinner"

[Still from Mais Darwazah's The Dinner (2012). Image copyright the director. Courtesy of the DC Palestinian Film and Arts Festival.]

The Dinner. Directed by Mais Darwazah. France/Palestine/UAE, 2012. In Mais Darwazah’s film The Dinner (2012) a portrait of Amman is composed through the lives of its inhabitants: streets are bustling; stairways serve as meeting points; and doors lead to hidden worlds. As a life-long resident, Darwazah approaches her muse with a series of interviews that gradually unpack her own reservations about the small Levantine city. The filmmaker enters its environs with the subject ...

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National Works: Kuwait's Debut at the Venice Biennale

[Tarek Al-Ghoussein,

National Works Pavilion of Kuwait 55th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale Curated by Ala Younis 1 June - 24 November 2013   Kuwait’s art scene is small, scattered, and clumsily endorsed by those who possess the unlimited resources and political sway to actually overhaul it. Many of its acting patrons are members of the ruling family who, as of late, have focused more energy on peacocking in regional art pageants than earnestly investing in the ...

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In Conversation with Amir H. Fallah

[Amir H. Fallah's

Portraiture in American art dates back to the time of the colonies. From the late eighteenth century onward, beginning with the work of such artists as John Singleton Copley, Gilbert Stuart, and Charles Peale, issues surrounding representations of race, class, and gender have inevitably crept into the milieu of figurative painting, primarily when American society has reached critical junctures in its political history. Painting—although the medium is periodically proclaimed ...

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Between Exits: Paintings by Hani Zurob

[Hani Zurob in his studio. Image courtesy of Black Dog Publishing.]

Kamal Boullata, Between Exits: Paintings by Hani Zurob. London: Black Dog, 2012  Hani Zurob’s early paintings are dominated by enigmatic figures of various shapes and sizes. Some resemble human subjects and are scaled to occupy the foregrounds of compositions—as though walking in a procession—while others are colossal and misshapen, overpowering everything in their path. Indications of their environment are equally nondescript. Vertical lines further divide the ...

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Allegory of a Revolution: José Clemente Orozco’s “The Trench”

[Detail of José Clemente Orozco’s “The Trench” (1926). Photographed by the author.]

José Clemente Orozco was the oldest of Los Tres Grandes, the celebrated modernist painters who led Mexico’s twentieth-century muralist movement. Among “The Big Three,” he was also the least politically dogmatic and the most outwardly pessimistic. Whereas Diego Rivera idealized the armed struggle of the Mexican Revolution (1910-20), having missed the deadliest periods of combat while active in Cubist circles in Paris, Orozco was haunted by the carnage and chaos he had ...

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Palestine Up Close and at a Distance

[Detail of Paul Noble's

In Ramallah, Running Guy Mannes-Abbott and Samar Martha, editors Black Dog Publishing, 2012   In his 1997 memoir I Saw Ramallah, Mourid Barghouti identified the early stage of what is now called the Ramallah “bubble” or “syndrome.” Writing on the state of Palestine just a few years after the Oslo Accords, Barghouti locates a “mirage” or “idea of Palestine” that distracts native inhabitants. Ramallah, it is argued, has been redeveloped with a focus on gross ...

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Zaha Hadid: Black Square, White Cube, and the Twenty-First Century Museum

[Zaha Hadid's Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. Image by Paul Warchol (2012). Copyright the photographer. Courtesy of Zaha Hadid Architects]

The staircase of Zaha Hadid Architects’ recently opened Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University in East Lansing is sleek and straightforward. Its intention is functional; its design is simple (as simple as a contorted, suspended mass can be). A departure from the use of a traditional grand stairway as a means of announcing the authority of an American cultural institution, its narrow path cuts through three distinct levels of sensory experience, as each ...

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Etel Adnan at the Base of the Mountain

[Etel Adnan,

Etel Adnan 12 September – 28 October 2012 Callicoon Fine Arts, Manhattan   Roughly fifteen miles north of San Francisco, across the city’s iconic burnt-orange Art Deco masterpiece, is Mount Tamalpais, another Bay Area icon. In the surrounding areas of this unassuming mountain lived the Coastal Miwok Indians—a now landless people—who (as popular legend would have it) once claimed that an evil witch lived atop its peak in order to deter early European settlers from ...

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مواقع الظلال: عمل حديث لجنان العاني

 [منظر جوي ١

مواقع الظلال: عمل حديث لجنان العاني 28 آب، 2012- 10 شباط، 2013 قاعة آرثر إم. ساكلر- معهد سميثسونيان  تعرض قاعة آرثر إم. ساكلر في العاصمة واشنطن ثلاثة عروض فيديوية لأعمال حديثة للفنانة عراقية المولد، جنان العاني. يقدم المعرض الفردي الثاني في سميثسونيان لجنان العاني، المقيمة في لندن، (أقيم المعرض الأول في 1999) والمعنون “مواقع الظلال” لزواره لمحة في زاوية جديدة من عمل جنان المبني على الصورة، وهي زاوية طورتها في عمل بحثي عنوانه "جماليات الغياب: أرض بلا ...

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Dia al-Azzawi's "Sabra and Shatila Massacre"

[Detail of Dia al-Azzawi's

Earlier this year, London’s Tate Modern acquired “Sabra and Shatila Massacre” (1982-83), an epic mural-sized drawing by pioneering Iraqi artist Dia al-Azzawi. Sprawling as it is towering and engulfing, the artist began the massive work after news surfaced that between two and three thousand Palestinian and Lebanese civilians were strategically murdered in and around the refugee camps of southern Beirut in 1982. While creating “Sabra and Shatila Massacre,” al-Azzawi was also ...

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An Introduction to Helen Zughaib's "Stories My Father Told Me"

[Helen Zughaib

“Stories My Father Told Me” is a series of twenty-three gouache paintings by Lebanese-American artist Helen Zughaib. Based on the memories of her father, Elia, who was born in Damascus in 1927 under the French Mandate, this large body of work is filled with the recollections of his early childhood in the Old City of the Syrian capital and the subsequent years of his youth that were spent in the Lebanese towns of Zahle and Marjayoun. Beginning in 2003, Helen and her father ...

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Shadow Sites: Recent Work by Jananne Al-Ani

[Jananne Al-Ani

Shadow Sites: Recent Work by Jananne Al-Ani August 25, 2012—February 10, 2013 Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution   Three recent video installations by Iraqi-born artist Jananne Al-Ani are currently on view at the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington DC. The second Smithsonian solo exhibition for the London-based artist (the first was held in 1999), Shadow Sites provides viewers with a glimpse into a new direction of her photo-based practice—one ...

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Amal Kenawy (1974-2012)

[Amal Kenawy. All images courtesy of Gallery Misr, Cairo unless otherwise noted]

On 19 August, leading Egyptian artist Amal Kenawy died from a battle with advanced leukemia. Globally recognized for a staggering body of work that explores the relationship of the individual to the incorporeal and physical nature of reality, Kenawy was respected among her colleagues for effortlessly combining video, installation, sound, and performance while challenging viewers to partake in deeply personal journeys that often venture into emphatic socio-cultural ...

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Portrait of America: Kehinde Wiley at the Jewish Museum

[Kehinde Wiley,

The gap between propaganda about Palestine in contrast to the reality I know as a Palestinian has made me wary… The most serious failing in political art is that it does not make clear whose side the artwork is on. When such clarity is lacking the benefit defaults to those currently in power. —Samia Halaby (Arab Studies Quarterly, Spring/Summer 1989) Punctuating several galleries of the Jewish Museum in Manhattan are the vibrant paintings of art world superstar ...

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Bio

Maymanah Farhat

 

Maymanah Farhat has written widely on modern and contemporary Arab art. Her essays and reviews have appeared in Art Journal, Callaloo: Journal of African Diaspora Arts and Letters, and ArtAsiaPacific magazine, among others. From 2006 to 2009, she was the West Asia editor of ArtAsiaPacific magazine’s annual Almanac, covering the year in art for fourteen Middle Eastern countries. In addition to her writing, she has curated exhibitions in New York, Beirut, Doha, and Dubai, and has served as a juror and consultant for a number of arts organizations. She is co-editor of Jadaliyya Culture, the Artistic Director and Chief Writer of Ayyam Gallery (Damascus/Beirut/Dubai/Jeddah/London), and a curatorial advisor to the Arab American National Museum.

 

 

 

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