10 Modern Arab Artists
By: Kameron Dreher/Arab America Contributing Writer
If you’re looking for new artists to follow, look no further. The following Arab artists are just a few of many who have made their mark on the Arab world and beyond. Each one is revolutionary in their own right and deserves to be recognized, whether they are calling attention to human rights issues or exploring new mediums or methods.
1. Tammam Azzam
Born in Damascus, Syria, Tammam Azzam is a successful painter and graphic design artist. Following the start of the conflict in Syria, Azzam turned to digital media and graphic art to create visualizations of the conflict for international viewers. In 2013, Azzam made worldwide headlines when his freedom graffiti went viral on social media.
2. El Seed
El Seed is a French/Tunisian artist born in Paris. An artist and calligrapher, El Seed work primarily with subjects that seem contradictory but his art reflects the reality of mankind and our current world. With each of his projects, he supports humanist values and spreads the message for the service of humanity. In 2017, he won the UNESCO Sharjah Prize for Arab culture.
3. Nourine Hammad
With her own independent study and practice, Hammad learned the techniques to create hyper-realistic three-dimensional art. Hammad continuously captures the gaze of people mistaking her paintings for real objects. “By approaching her subject matter honestly and without vanity, she strives to create detailed work that celebrates perfection and imperfection that coexist together.”
4. Reem Nazir
A painting member of the women’s Saudia at Art Group, Reem Nazir’s colorful still lifes, landscapes, and jewelry paintings personify Saudi Arabia and its culture. She illustrates this through oil or acrylic paint; her particular focus on color and weight of mark introduces a fresh and energetic outlook to painting.
5. Noha Bahr
Noha Bahr, an Egyptian visual artist creates beautiful sketches and digital artwork. Inspired by cartoons from her childhood, Bahr has created her own quirky characters and skits with a touch of vintage. She creates characters that often resemble children’s comics and storybook illustrations. She incorporates 3D objects with 2D graphics.
6. Shurooq Amin
Born to a Kuwaiti father and Syrian mother, Shurooq Amin is a mixed media artist who is focused on changing society. Following a series of critically acclaimed exhibitions in her native Kuwait, “Amin has emerged as a leading feminist voice in the Arabian Gulf.” Combining photography and paintings, she depicts anonymous multi-generational figures with humor and irony to show contradictions of a conservative state.
7. Ahmed Emad El-Din
Ahmed Emad El-Din is an Egyptian digital artist who became widely recognized after his design was showcased on Pink Floyd’s 2014 album, The Endless River. Eldin has practiced art since the age of 13 and is a self-taught artist who draws from influential artists: Salvador Dali and the “dark world” of art.
8. Huda Beydoun
While Beydoun originally started in painting, her recent works have included digital art, mixed media, and photography. Her bold style and aesthetic forgoes the traditional calligraphic style associated with Saudi Art. Her graphic style lends itself to developing motifs that act as a signature to her artwork. She uses Disney images and symbols such as Mickey Mouse to juxtapose the images of undocumented images of her homeland. She says, “An asymmetrical reflection or the interaction, or lack thereof between undocumented immigrants and I.”
9. Helen Zughaib
A painter and multimedia artist, Helen Zughaib uses her Middle Eastern background and her collective experiences in America to bring a unique twist to her artwork. Originally from Lebanon, she currently lives and works in Washington D.C. She paints primarily in gouache and ink on boards and canvases. More recently, she has worked with wood, shoes, cloth, and mixed-media installations. Today, as a US cultural envoy to the West Bank, Palestine, she hopes that art can be used to foster positive dialogue about the Middle East.
10. Aisha Mershani
Aisha Mershani is a photographer who has documented Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. Her photographs, which cannot be shown/seen in mainstream media, have exposed the reality of life in the West Bank by highlighting the Palestinian movement and determination of the Palestinian people.
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