5 Middle East artists to follow

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Artsper regularly invites you to discover the art scene of a country or region through the work of its most influential contemporary artists. This week, we take a look at five of the leading figures from the Middle East art scene.

 

#1 ABDALLA OMARI

 

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©Abdalla Omari

Abdalla Omari is the Middle Eastern artist everyone has been talking about in recent weeks. The latest series of paintings by this Belgium-based Syrian exile shows the world’s most powerful political leaders in extremely vulnerable positions: as migrants, poor, homeless. Stripped of their signs of wealth and power, they become human beings like any other. When the artist looks at his portrait of Bashar al-Assad, he feels “sorry” for him. A striking assertion, and a pictorial appeal for empathy.

 

#MAHA MALLUH

 

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Food for Thought « Amma Baad », 2016 ©Maha Malluh

Saudi artist Maha Malluh transforms consumer goods that are part of her country’s traditional popular culture into ultra-contemporary works of art. The objects she works with, often found at flea markets or in junk shops, become symbols. Large cooking pots and audio cassettes transcend their original purpose to become symbols of friendship and togetherness, embodied by music and food. A regular exhibitor at Art Basel, Maha Malluh is widely renowned and was included on the official artist list for the 2017 Venice Biennale.

 

#3 YAZAN HALWANI

 

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Fairuz ©Yazan Halwani

Saudi artist Maha Malluh transforms consumer goods that are part of her country’s traditional popular culture into ultra-contemporary works of art. The objects she works with, often found at flea markets or in junk shops, become symbols. Large cooking pots and audio cassettes transcend their original purpose to become symbols of friendship and togetherness, embodied by music and food. A regular exhibitor at Art Basel, Maha Malluh is widely renowned and was included on the official artist list for the 2017 Venice Biennale.

 

# TAMARA ABDUL HADI

 

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©Tamara Abdul Hadi

Born in 1980, this young photographer hails from Iraq but currently lives in Dubai. Her pictures show minorities in the Middle East, be they stigmatised or simply forgotten. Her series “City of the Dead” immerses us in the everyday life of a Cairo slum, at the heart of a cemetery. A place where, despite everything, life prevails…

 

#5 AHMED MATER 

 

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Magnetism, 2012 ©Ahmed Mater

This 38-year-old artist and physicist from Saudi Arabia imbues his work with his perspective on his country, its development and the changes sweeping through it. However, his best-known work to date, “Magnetism”, was inspired by his memories of doing the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca, with his grandfather. The installation conveys all the energy and force of the moment, with magnetic fields irresistibly pulling the iron images up towards the Kaaba, the central point of the mosque.

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