Artists featured in Arabicity | Ourouba


b. 1973 in Baghdad, Iraq; lives in Helsinki, Finland and Amman, Jordan

Adel Abidin is an Iraqi multimedia artist who uses video, sound, photography, and sculpture to examine the relationship between visual art, politics, and identity. His video, Consumption of War, explores the environmental effects of a world ruled by corporations. In the video, two men battle using fluorescent laser sabers, alluding to man’s eternal quest to vanquish nature. Abidin represented Finland at the Nordic Pavilion in the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007) and has been the subject of major exhibitions, including ones at the Aga Khan Museum, Canada (2015), the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark (2014), and Mori Art Museum, Japan (2012-2013).


b. 1991 in Syria; lives in Beirut, Lebanon

Anas Albraehe is a Syrian artist focused primarily on painting and theater performance whose recent work explores the psychology of color and the gaze of the Other. His painting, Untitled, explores the temporary refuge of sleep for laborers and men displaced by war. The piece highlights the inextricable link between the worlds of sleep and wakefulness. Albraehe has had solo exhibitions at Artspace Hamra, Lebanon (2017) and at Wadi Finan, Jordan (2017). He has participated in exhibitions at Al-Bareh Galerie, Bahrain (2015) and Artspace Hamra, Lebanon (2016), and the Sharjah Art Biennial (2016-2017).


b. 1951 in Cairo, Egypt; d. 2018 in Cairo, Egypt

Egyptian-Armenian artist Chant Avedissian fused his interests in folk art, Sufi poetry, pop culture, Zen principles, and aestheticism with his Egyptian-Armenian heritage to produce commentaries on the world around him. Avedissian’s stencils celebrate his Icons of the Nile -- the performers, politicians, public figures, and everyday people who represented modern Egypt’s social and political heyday in the fifties and early sixties. His work is held by the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution; the British Museum, London; Guggenheim Abu Dhabi; and the National Gallery of Jordan. 


b. 1975 in Adaisseh, Lebanon; lives in Beirut, Lebanon

Ayman Baalbaki is a Lebanese painter and installation artist who explores political turmoil in the Middle East. Baalbaki’s mix of neo-expressionism and pop art often references his fellow citizens as well as Beirut's seemingly never-ending process of construction, destruction, and reconstruction. His painting, Al Mulatham, portrays the idealism of his father’s generation and symbolizes the endless conflicts in the Middle East. Baalbaki’s large-scale expressionist portraits of fighters have made him one of the most internationally acclaimed Arab artists. His paintings have been widely collected and exhibited worldwide, including at the 2011 Venice Biennale.


b. 1974 in Beirut, Lebanon; lives in Berlin, Germany

Said Baalbaki is a Lebanese artist who draws on his experiences growing up during the civil war and Israeli occupation in Lebanon. His paintings of suitcases, including Trunks I, originally represented his anxieties about having to leave Beirut, but eventually took on another meaning, symbolizing hope and new beginnings rather than flight and danger. Since 1998, Baalbaki has exhibited his work in the Middle East (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Iran), Europe (Germany, France, and Switzerland), and North America (Canada and the United States). 


b. 1974 in Damascus, Syria; lives in Berlin, Germany

Khaled Barakeh is a Syrian conceptual artist, curator, and cultural activist who combines traditional methods and techniques with a modern collection of reversed processes, repetition of forms, and sarcastic commentaries. His awareness-raising pieces transform subjective narratives into relatable, universal ones. In his piece, Please Remain Seated, Barakeh combines the keffiyah, a scarf that has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance, with a lifejacket, representing a sense of security. 
In Barakeh’s practice of cultural hacking, he re-examines ready-made objects, crafts, and traditional techniques in search of common themes and meaning.


b. 1979  in Saida, Lebanon; lives in Beirut, Lebanon

Lebanese painter Tagreed Darghouth uses a research-driven approach, drawing inspiration from literature, philosophy, and the everyday realities of the Middle East. She creates uncomfortable, challenging pieces that tackle subjects including war, cosmetic surgery, and Lebanese mother-child relationships. Her series, Brighter than a Thousand Suns, explores the legacy of inhumanity and violence left by the invention of the atomic bomb. Darghouth has received second prize at the Ayloul Summer Academy exhibition in Darat al Funun in Amman (2000), first prize at the cm3 exhibition in Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris (2003), and the Boghossian Prize for a young Lebanese artist (2012).


b. 1957 in Cairo, Egypt; lives in Edinburgh, Scotland and Fano, Italy

Fathi Hassan is an Egyptian artist of Nubian descent known for his installations involving the written word, which focus on the interaction between written and spoken language. His piece, Ourouba, which translates as “Arabism,” draws from the kufic forms of Arabic calligraphy and remains partially illegible to the viewer, calling attention to the potential ambiguity of written language and the aesthetic powers of graphics. Hassan has participated in numerous solo and group shows in Italy, including the 1988 Venice Biennale, and in Belgium, Denmark, Egypt, Great Britain, and New York. His work is part of several public and private collections 
across the globe, including the Victoria & Albert Museum, the British Museum, and the Smithsonian Museum.


b. 1961 in Larache, Morocco; lives in London, UK

Hassan Hajjaj is a Moroccan photographer, designer, and filmmaker, influenced by the hip-hop and reggae scenes of London and Morocco’s street culture. Hajjaj’s work, including Saida in Blue, often features models wearing his own designs, which incorporate the logos of global brands to create juxtapositions between Western consumerism and traditional Middle Eastern motifs. He constructs his own frames, made of recycled materials such as tires or packaging. Hajjaj, whose work is collected widely, was the winner of the Sovereign Middle East and African Art Prize (2011) and his work is part of the private collections of various museums, including the Brooklyn Museum, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Victoria & Albert Museum.


b. 1962 in Germany; lives in Dusseldorf, Germany, New York, USA, and Cairo, Egypt

Susan Hefuna is an Egyptian-German multi-disciplinary artist who draws on her mixed heritage in drawings, installations, performances, photographs, sculptures, and videos to examine the intersection of location and identity. Hefuna’s work, including Patience is Beautiful, often incorporates the form or image of the mashrabiya, a carved wood or stone architectural latticework screen, which she uses to investigate aesthetic tradition, national custom, and the exchanged gaze. Each panel of Hefuna's artwork reads al-sabr gamīl, an Arabic proverb meaning "patience is beautiful,” commonly used in Egypt. Hefuna’s work has been widely exhibited, including at museums such as Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2006 and 2013) the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2010), as well as the Venice Biennale (2009).


b. 1983 in Sabra, Lebanon; lives in Sabra, Lebanon

Abdul Rahman Katanani is a Palestinian multimedia artist who has lived all his life as a refugee in Lebanon’s Shatila and Sabra camps. In much of his work, Katanani draws on the hardships, endurance, and resistance that emerge from displacement, using materials found in the camp, such as scrap metal, and barbed wire. His pieces, Girl with Kite and Boy with Balloons, feature children made of iron flying kites made from tin cans. The kites convey playfulness, hope, and the innocence of childhood, which stand in contrast with the rough materials that reflect the difficulties of life in a refugee camp. Katanani has completed residencies in France and has held solo and group shows in Beirut, Doha, Munich, and Paris, among other cities.


b. 1972 in Cairo, Egypt; lives in New York, USA

Youssef Nabil is an Egyptian photographer and video artist who produces staged photographs of celebrities, colleagues, and friends in the style of 1950s Egyptian cinema, evoking nostalgia for the cinematic past while addressing contemporary themes of beauty, sexuality, and cultural identity. In Nabil’s photographs, including those of famous musicians Shaaban Abdel Rahim and Natacha Atlas, he shoots black-and-white photographs and then hand-colors the prints, removing the blemishes of reality and employing a technique based on the color-tinting of old Egyptian portrait studios. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including at the Centre Pompidou, Paris; the British Museum, London; and the Guggenheim Museum, Abu Dhabi.


b. 1966 in Baghdad, Iraq; lives in Ontario, Canada

Mahmoud Obaidi is an Iraqi-Canadian installation artist whose politically charged  work draws on themes of displacement, home, and belonging. He often draws from his own experiences of being driven out of Iraq and living in the West. Salam, the Arabic word for peace, comes from Obaidi’s Confusionism series. The artwork uses swords, a symbol of war, to express its paradoxes, including the desire for peace. Obaidi’s work has been exhibited in a number of museums, galleries, foundations, and private collections around the world, including the National Museum of Bahrain, Manama; Musée de l’Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris; and Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha. 


b. 1961 in Jerusalem; lives in Ramallah, Palestine

Khalil Rabah is a Palestinian installation artist who uses wit and humor to invent visual histories, playing with the concept of truth and articulating the everyday lives of Palestinians living under occupation. In his piece, United States of Palestine Airlines, London Offices, Rabah creates a hypothetical office of a United States of Palestine Airlines, thereby visualizing the dream of having a state, being able to travel, and having one’s own agencies and institutions. He has held solo exhibitions around the world and has participated in major group shows, including Manifesta 12 Palermo (2018); the Marrakech Biennale (2016); and the Venice Biennale (2009). 


b. 1977 in Umm al-Fahem, Palestine; lives in Jerusalem

Raeda Saadeh is a Palestinian artist whose photographs, videos, and performances explore issues of displacement, gender, and identity, with particular reference to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Saadeh often features her own body as the core subject of her work. Her piece, Penelope, references the Greek myth of Penelope, in which a woman waits twenty years for the return of her husband. In this piece, Penelope is in Beit Hanina, a Palestinian neighbourhood in East Jerusalem, where many houses were destroyed by the Israel Defense Forces. The artwork shows Penelope’s frustration, but also her virtue and loyalty. Saadeh has participated in many solo and group exhibitions, including at the Busan Museum of Art, Seoul (2014); European Parliament, Brussels (2008); and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London (2012). 


b. 1964 in Nazareth, Israel; lives in Haifa, Israel and Nazareth, Israel

Sharif Waked is a Palestinian artist who juxtaposes the representations of Arabs and Islam in the media with injustices experienced in reality. His videos, installations, and painted works reveal the ways that power, politics, and aesthetics infiltrate everyday life. In his video, Chic Point: Fashion For Israeli Checkpoints, Waked plays with the intersection of culture and politics in Palestinian life by creating a fictional fashion show that features models in outfits designed to suit Israeli checkpoints. Waked has had numerous solo exhibitions and has participated in group shows across the world, including at the Guggenheim Museum, New York (2011) and the Sharjah Biennial, United Arab Emirates (2009). 


b. 1974 in Asilah, Morocco; lives in Martil, Morocco

Batoul S’Himi is a Moroccan artist who uses household objects and products traditionally associated with women to critique social conventions and gender inequality. In her series, Arab World Under Pressure, S’Himi transforms objects such as pressure cookers and meat cleavers to reflect on the hostility and unrest felt by women. S’Himi’s work has been featured in the Palais de Tokyo’s Third Triennial of Contemporary Art, Paris (2012) and at the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris.The public collections of the National Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution and the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah hold S’Himi’s artwork.

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