Written by William Dobson
The Middle Eastern art scene is extraordinarily vibrant, diverse and often unique. Drawing on the rich artistic heritage of the region, it has been thrust into modernity as a generation of artists fight against often creatively-stifling regimes.
We all know about Persian rugs, mosaics and ancient depictions of 1,001 Nights but, if looking for something more contemporary, then we recommend you check out the following five websites.
Established last year by father and son team, Shahdad and Joobin Bekhrad, and featured on this very site, Art Clvb strives to promote contemporary artists from the Middle East to a Western audience. Based in Toronto, London, and Dubai – three major art capitals – and having myriad connections in Iran, they are well placed to carry out their mission to be ‘cultural ambassadors’ of the region.
Art of the Mid East
This wonderful blog is dedicated, as the name suggests, to all things artistic in the Middle East. Whether that be featured artists, interviews, lists of both current and upcoming exhibitions, or recommended galleries, it’s all there. As Taymour Grahne, who started the website, says ‘through…this blog I hope to create a vast network of the region’s artists, galleries, collectors, and art enthusiasts. Simultaneously, artists will have a platform to showcase their work in a way they never have before.’
Moroccan Fine Art
Originally from Rabat, Nadia Echiguer moved to London in 2007, decorating her home with art work that represented her cultural heritage. Constantly praised by friends and visitors, regardless of their background, she was inspired to start a gallery specialising in Moroccan fine art, and her recently launched website acts as her online gallery. Not a style of art necessarily associated with the region, she aims ’to promote the diverse artistic talent emerging from Morocco to a wider audience, both in the UK and internationally.’
Islamic Arts Magazine
Although the name might suggest ancient Qur’anic images, at Islamic Arts Magazine, they put a modern and contemporary twist on the subject. Their latest print publication looked at such diverse subjects as a recent exhibit of contemporary Egyptian art entitled ‘From Facebook to Nassbook’; interviews with artists such as the Bosnian painter Džeko Hodžić, British designer Ruh al-ʼAlam, and Turkish calligrapher Mustafa Nazif Duran among others; and an in-depth look at the Muslim Women in the Arts organisation. Snippets from the magazine can be viewed online and their fascinating blog is updated regularly.
Meaning picture or, more commonly, photograph in Arabic, Soura, as you may have guessed by now, is a magazine dedicated to Middle Eastern photography. Like Islamic Arts Magazine, it’s predominantly a print publication, but they also have articles taken from each issue on the website. Definitely worth checking out, not least for the stunning photography one can sample by browsing though the site.
What do you reckon? Get in touch and let us know which ones you think we’ve missed out, why you like the ones we have included, or just to say hi!