Contemporary Art Inspired by Islamic Tradition - Al-Fanar Media (2022)

The fifth biennialJameel Art Prize exhibitionat the Victoria and Albert Museum in London is a display of talent from artists around the world who are inspired by Islamic art and design.

The Jameel Art Prize has become one of the most prestigious awards for contemporary artists and designers, and is one of the few awards in the global art world that focuses on Islamic art.

The prize was founded by theDubai and Saudi Arabia-based organization Art Jameelin partnership with theVictoria and Albert Museumten years ago after the completion of the museum’s Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art. The museum, better known as the V&A, has focused on the practice of design from its establishment in the 1850s and claims to be the first institution in the world to startpurposefully collecting Islamic art, in the belief that the patterns and designs of Islamic arts and crafts could serve as a catalyst for improving British design.

Seeking to highlight a wide range of work, the Jameel Art Prize casts a wide net each time it has run, allowing not only an interesting mix of different art media to be shown side by side, but also successfully showing how Islamic design philosophy continues to take new forms. The prize has stimulated a larger creative conversation and opened opportunities for collaborations among artists, curators and museums such as the V&A.

At a moment when both museums and academic institutions are seeking to redefine and expand what was once a narrowly defined concept of Islamic art, the Jameel Art Prize sets out to support and explore the relationship between Islamic art history and contemporary art practice. It awards a prize of £25,000 (currently worth about $32,800) to a winner chosen from a short list of finalists, who themselves were selected from a field of hundreds of applicants nominated by artists, designers, curators and cultural figures from around the world.

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Two Top Winners

This year the top prize was jointly awarded to an artist from Iraq and an architect based in Bangladesh.

The winning artist, Mehdi Moutashar, was recognized for abstract pieces inspired by Islamic geometry and calligraphy, as well as the geometric abstracted style he encountered when he first moved to Paris in the 1960s.

The architect, Marina Tabassum, was honored for her design of a mosque built in Dhaka in 2012 calledBait ur Rouf, which incorporates a traditional building style and materials to create a gathering place for the community.

The other finalists were Kamrooz Aram, an Iranian artist based in New York; Hayv Kahraman, a Kurdish-Iraqi painter who lives and works in Los Angeles; Hala Kaiksow, a Bahraini fashion designer; Younes Rahmoun, a Moroccan multi-media artist; Wardha Shabbir, a Pakistani painter; and the Naqsh Collective, founded by two Jordanian sisters and designers, Nisreen and Nermeen Abudail.

This year’s edition of the Jameel Art Prize marks several firsts: It is the first time the top prize has been split between two finalists and the first time it has been awarded to an architect. This year is also the first time nominations for work from Bangladesh, Bahrain and Jordan have been offered.

Some 375 entrants from around the world submitted recently completed artworks or projects to this year’s competition.

The selection of the artists for this year’s short list of finalists “expands our horizons of what modernity and contemporaneity truly mean, and enriches our understanding of a truly globalized art world beyond its current confines,” Salah M. Hassan, a member of the prize jury, said in a news release. Hassan is a professor of African and Islamic art history at Cornell University, in New York.

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Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, served as chair of the prize jury. Other members of the judging panel were Tanya Harrod, an independent design historian living in London; November Paynter, director of programs at Toronto’s Museum of Contemporary Art; and Ghulam Mohammad, a Pakistani artist who was winner of the Jameel Prize 4.

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A Thought-Provoking Exhibition

The jury’s selection of eight works was thoughtfully presented in an exhibition curated by Tim Stanley, the museum’s senior curator of art from the Islamic Middle East, and Salma Tuqan, its curator of contemporary art and design from the Middle East. Their presentation allows visitors to understand the nfluence of Islamic art on each artist’s individual approach, and highlights how each artist is part of a larger artistic dialogue.

Short videos on each artistand their practice are shown at the entrance of the exhibition, and are well worth watching for the insights the artists offer about their points of inspiration.

Thought-provoking pieces from the exhibition include Kamroom Aram’s Ephesian Fog (2016), part of a series of works in which he encourages viewers to question how museums have historically presented Islamic art. Aram’s work shows how a notion of antiquation was imposed on Islamic art, removing its contemporary relevance. Inspired by works in the Islamic galleries of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Aram successfully reinterprets Islamic design in a mixed-media work that juxtaposes small objects against a wall painted in bold shades of Christmas red and green. The viewer is forced to consider how Islamic geometry and abstract geometric forms in contemporary art share more in common conceptually than has been previously observed.

The Naqsh Collective’s shortlisted piece, Shawl (2015), is a large sculptural creation that’s neither a piece of furniture nor a simple art object, but a plane on which rests the possibility of both. Made of walnut wood, it is inspired by the patterns of Palestinian embroidery, which have been laser-cut into the wood. The work evokes the cross-stitched patterns on a shawl that has been lovingly long-used and worn. In some places, the motifs are clear to the eye; in others, they are so shallowly etched as to appear flat and almost erased.

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The motif of Palestinian embroidery has been used repeatedly by Palestinian and other Arab artists to allude to the Palestinian struggle, but here, it pays homage to the rich cultural heritage of the Palestinian people by suggesting that this tradition can maintain a contemporary and cultural relevance, a reminder that the Palestinian people are un-erasable.

Younes Rahmoun’s exhibition piece presents clusters of traditional Moroccan woven caps resting on a light source, all pointed in the direction of Mecca. Displayed in a specially constructed room in the center of the exhibition, the work subtly alludes to the notion of a sacred space of prayer and worship.

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Many of the works in the exhibition are privately owned and on loan to the museum. The museum does, however, try to acquire some works from each prize, the curator Salma Tuqan explains, “as they demonstrate the connection between history and tradition to contemporary society through the innovation and interpretation of contemporary practitioners.”

“The works also echo the V&A’s motivation to find interesting approaches to highlight historic objects in our collections and make them relevant and engaging to our audiences,” Tuqan says.

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Perhaps we might see Rahmoun’s piece displayed in the future alongside the V&A’s famousArdabil Carpet, which the museum describes as the world’s oldest dated carpet and one of the largest.

The Jameel Prize has demonstrated that the patronage of Islamic-inspired art can initiate conversation and learning in new audiences about Islamic-inspired artists and designers from the Middle East and South Asia, through its focus on developing and nurturing talents in the region and among artists in diaspora.

The current exhibition will be on display in London until November 25. After that, it will travel to theJameel Arts Centre in Dubaiwhich is set to open to the public in mid-November.

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FAQs

What is contemporary Islamic art? ›

Contemporary Islamic art can consist of two-dimensional paintings, three-dimensional sculptures or installations which occupy spaces, and can be made from any material since they all manifest the concepts of geometry, light and space.

What famous artist was inspired by Islamic art? ›

The winning artist, Mehdi Moutashar, was recognized for abstract pieces inspired by Islamic geometry and calligraphy, as well as the geometric abstracted style he encountered when he first moved to Paris in the 1960s.

What were the Islamic influences on art? ›

Islamic art was influenced by Greek, Roman, early Christian, and Byzantine art styles, as well as the Sassanian art of pre-Islamic Persia. Central Asian styles were brought in with various nomadic incursions; and Chinese influences had a formative effect on Islamic painting, pottery, and textiles.

What are some examples of Islamic art? ›

What is Islamic art? The Dome of the Rock, the Taj Mahal, a Mina'i ware bowl, a silk carpet, a Qur'an; all of these are examples of Islamic art.

Which modern artists are Islamic? ›

Of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African-American descent, the featured artists include Iranian-born new media artist Morehshin Allahyari; documentary photographer Laylah Amatullah Barrayn; Algerian-born sculptor and installation artist Mona Saeed Kamal; Texas-born sculptor and performance artist Baseera Khan; ...

What is the most famous piece of Islamic art? ›

Today the Taj Mahal is the most famous piece of Islamic architecture in the world, with the possible exception of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

What is Islamic art in the Philippines? ›

Islamic art is characterized by designs of flowers, plant forms and geometric designs. It is used in calligraphy, architecture painting, clothing and other forms of fine art.

Who is the most famous Islamic artist? ›

The most famous Islamic Artist is Abed Abdi, who used materials like metals, wood, and glass to produce art using the themes of Palestine, childhood experience and the Arab world.

What are the 4 different types of Islamic art? ›

The four basic components of Islamic ornament are calligraphy, vegetal patterns, geometric patterns, and figural representation.

What is the artwork of Islamic art? ›

Instead, Islamic art covers a range of artistic fields including architecture, calligraphy, painting, glass, ceramics, and textiles, among others. Islamic art is not restricted to religious art, but instead includes all of the art of the rich and varied cultures of Islamic societies.

What is Islamic art known for? ›

Islamic art has very notable achievements in ceramics, both in pottery and tiles. These items included vases, vessels, plates, — both for functional and decorative purposes. Some were richly adorned with Arabesque patterns and others bore inscriptions from the Quran.

What was Islamic art called? ›

Islamic calligraphy in the form of painting or sculptures is sometimes referred to as Quranic art. The various forms of traditional Arabic calligraphy and decoration of the manuscripts used for written versions of the Qur'an represent a central tradition of Islamic visual art.

Which features were most commonly used in Islamic art and architecture? ›

Here are some elements which are commonly present in Islamic architecture and art.
  • Geometric Motifs. Simple forms of geometric patterns are combined or interlaced to form design. ...
  • Vegetal Patterns. ...
  • Calligraphy. ...
  • Minarets Or Towers. ...
  • Domes. ...
  • Fountains/Water. ...
  • Light. ...
  • Other Elements.

What is the theme of Islamic art? ›

Themes that are often present in Islamic art include; religion, ornament (in the form of animals or humans), interconnections between trade, diplomacy and culture and technical innovation.

What is contemporary Islamic architecture? ›

Modern Islamic architecture is that created for or by Muslim communities around the world. It represents a fusion of a rich Islamic artistic heritage with new forms and styles.

How would you describe Islamic architecture? ›

The most recognizable characteristic of Islamic architecture is decoration utilizing geometric design and a variety of colors, especially with tiles. Interiors are often adorned with abstract designs of repeating geometric shapes inspired by patterns of the Greeks, Romans, and from the Sasanian Empire.

Why do Muslims use prayer rugs? ›

Much more than a plain carpet

Ritual purity is extremely important for Muslim prayers practices. As Islamic studies scholar Marion Katz explains, prayer carpets provide a protective layer between the worshiper and the ground, protecting the clothing from anything on ground that is polluting.

What was the most popular type of painting in the early Islamic world? ›

The most popular type of painting in the early Islamic world was "miniature painting." These paintings were small and were used in fancy books called "illuminated manuscripts." These paintings were different from other pieces of Islamic art in that they often contained pictures of animals and people.

What was the first major example of Islamic architecture? ›

Early Islamic religious architecture, exemplified by Jerusalem's Dome of the Rock (ad 691) and the Great Mosque (705) in Damascus, drew on Christian architectural features such as domes, columnar arches, and mosaics but also included large courts for congregational prayer and a mihrab.

How did the spread of Islam influence literature the arts and architecture? ›

As Islam expanded, Muslims entered regions that had rich artistic traditions, and they modified these traditions. Islam forbade the depiction of living beings, so many artists turned to calligraphy or expressed themselves through the decorative arts, such as textiles and ceramics.

Is sarimanok Islamic art? ›

The bright and colourful palette is the norm in Maranao art. According to a folk belief of the Maranao people which was derived from Islamic traditions, the sarimanok was said to be a giant rooster which Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) encountered in heaven.

Is Islamic structures part of Philippine architecture? ›

The Philippines is composed of diverse culture. One of it is the Islamic culture that could be said as one of the pioneers in the making of the Philippine culture. Architecturally, Islamic architecture in the Philippines is dominantly present in Mosques only.

What is okir in relation to Islamic art? ›

To these ethnic Muslims, the term ukkil or okir, means both the art of sculpting or carving and a particular curvilinear design. Internationally, this design is recognized as arabesque. It is a decorative visual language of vegetal and flowing forms with its own grammar and vocabulary.

What is Islamic art and architecture? ›

Islamic art includes architecture, calligraphy, decorative arts (carpets, ceramics, and metalware, among other examples), and painting and stems from territories as diverse as the Arab world: Iranian lands, Turkey, India, China, and Spain.

Why was the art of painting not popular among the Muslims? ›

Answer: Depictions of the human form in art intended for the purpose of worship is considered idolatry and is forbidden in Islamic law, known as Sharia law. Explanation: Please mark me as brainliest.

What is the nature of early Islamic art? ›

Early Islamic paintings were often vivid and imaginative; some reworked classical Greco-Roman or Sasanian motifs, and others were new. Far from being a period of iconoclasm or avoidance of images, this was a time of renewed engagement with the art of paint.

What are the 3 main components of Islamic art define each? ›

Islamic art contains visual characteristics that make it "Islamic." The three main elements that unify Islamic art across a diverse and large geographical area are: Arabic calligraphy, the use of geometrical patterns, and Arabesque (floral and vegetal motifs).

What are the three types of Islamic art? ›

Across Islamic visual art, three key characteristics include floral motifs, geometric designs and calligraphy.

What are the 3 types of Islamic patterns? ›

The three non-figurative types of Islamic decoration are calligraphy, arabesques, and geometric patterns. In Islamic art, geometric patterns are elaborate artistic designs made by repeating, interlacing, and combining basic geometric forms - circles, squares, stars, and multi-sided polygons - in large arrays.

How has Islamic art influenced Western design? ›

We find copies made by Western artists of the intricate and beautiful designs found on Islamic pottery as well as the colorful tiles that became fashionable in the 1850s in Europe and North America. These tiles were clearly inspired by the designs and colors used to decorate Middle Eastern interiors.

What was the inspiration of Islamic art during the early Umayyad period? ›

The main artistic influence came from the late antique classical naturalistic tradition, which had been prevalent on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

What is meant by Islamic culture? ›

Islamic culture generally includes all of the practices which have developed around the religion of Islam. There are variations in the application of Islamic beliefs in different cultures and traditions.

Why is Islamic art important today? ›

The art of the Islamic world reflects its cultural values, and reveals the way Muslims view the spiritual realm and the universe. For the Muslim, reality begins with and centers on Allah. Allah is at the heart of worship and aspirations for Muslims, and is the focus of their lives.

Why is Islamic art unique? ›

Therefore Islamic art developed a unique character of geometric, arabesque, floral, and calligraphic patterns which reflect on their aspects of balance. These patterns were a direct offspring of what they believed about Allah and figural representation. Nothing could be unbalanced or else Allah didn't make it.

How did Islam spread in the Philippines? ›

Islam arrived in the Philippines in the late 14th century with Arab and Malay merchants following Southeast Asian trade networks, propagating Sunni Islam with a variety of Sufi traditions.

Which are the main motifs that are important in Islamic style of design? ›

Many Islamic designs are built on squares and circles, typically repeated, overlapped and interlaced to form intricate and complex patterns. A recurring motif is the 8-pointed star, often seen in Islamic tilework; it is made of two squares, one rotated 45 degrees with respect to the other.

What is Islamic architecture called? ›

Iwan | Islamic Architecture. An Iwan, a rectangular hall with walls on three sides and an open side, has a vaulted roof. Pishtaq, the entrance of the Iwan, is decorated with friezes of calligraphy, glazed tilework, and geometric. The arched portal often opens into a courtyard.

How has Islam influenced architecture? ›

It developed distinct characteristics in the form of buildings, and the decoration of surfaces with Islamic calligraphy and geometric and interlace patterned ornament. The principal Islamic architectural types for large or public buildings are: the Mosque, the Tomb, the Palace and the Fort.

Where are Islamic patterns used? ›

For centuries, Islamic geometrical patterns (IGPs) have been used as decorative elements on walls, ceilings, doors, domes, and minarets.

Did the Quran influence Islamic art? ›

Arab Influence

It contributed the basis for the development of Islamic Art with the message of Islam, the language of its Holy Book, the Koran (Qur'an) and the Arabic form of writing.

What are the 4 different types of Islamic art? ›

The four basic components of Islamic ornament are calligraphy, vegetal patterns, geometric patterns, and figural representation.

How did Islamic art reflect the religion of Islam? ›

A common feature of Islamic art is the covering of surfaces covered with geometric patterns. This use of geometry is thought to reflect the language of the universe and help the believer to reflect on life and the greatness of creation.

What was the most popular form of painting in the early Islamic world? ›

The most popular type of painting in the early Islamic world was "miniature painting." These paintings were small and were used in fancy books called "illuminated manuscripts." These paintings were different from other pieces of Islamic art in that they often contained pictures of animals and people.

What is Islamic art called? ›

Islamic calligraphy in the form of painting or sculptures is sometimes referred to as Quranic art. The various forms of traditional Arabic calligraphy and decoration of the manuscripts used for written versions of the Qur'an represent a central tradition of Islamic visual art.

What is the style of art used by Muslims? ›

There are repeating elements in Islamic art, such as the use of stylized, geometrical floral or vegetal designs in a repetition known as the arabesque. The arabesque in Islamic art is often used to symbolize the transcendent, indivisible and infinite nature of God.

How did the Quran influence Islamic art and architecture? ›

the quran influenced Islamic art because the quran banned the worship of idols, so muslim leaders forbid artists to potray God or human figures in religious art, which gave Islamic art a clear style, mosaic, and calligraphy of the Quran.

What are the 3 main components of Islamic art define each? ›

Islamic art contains visual characteristics that make it "Islamic." The three main elements that unify Islamic art across a diverse and large geographical area are: Arabic calligraphy, the use of geometrical patterns, and Arabesque (floral and vegetal motifs).

What are the 3 types of Islamic patterns? ›

The three non-figurative types of Islamic decoration are calligraphy, arabesques, and geometric patterns. In Islamic art, geometric patterns are elaborate artistic designs made by repeating, interlacing, and combining basic geometric forms - circles, squares, stars, and multi-sided polygons - in large arrays.

What are the three elements of Islamic art? ›

Islamic Art Characteristics

Across Islamic visual art, three key characteristics include floral motifs, geometric designs and calligraphy. Often overlapping across various art forms and genres, these elements are influenced by principles in the Qu'ran.

How has Islamic art influenced Western design? ›

We find copies made by Western artists of the intricate and beautiful designs found on Islamic pottery as well as the colorful tiles that became fashionable in the 1850s in Europe and North America. These tiles were clearly inspired by the designs and colors used to decorate Middle Eastern interiors.

Which features were most commonly used in Islamic art and architecture? ›

Here are some elements which are commonly present in Islamic architecture and art.
  • Geometric Motifs. Simple forms of geometric patterns are combined or interlaced to form design. ...
  • Vegetal Patterns. ...
  • Calligraphy. ...
  • Minarets Or Towers. ...
  • Domes. ...
  • Fountains/Water. ...
  • Light. ...
  • Other Elements.

How did the spread of Islam influence literature the arts and architecture? ›

As Islam expanded, Muslims entered regions that had rich artistic traditions, and they modified these traditions. Islam forbade the depiction of living beings, so many artists turned to calligraphy or expressed themselves through the decorative arts, such as textiles and ceramics.

What is considered the highest art form in Islamic art Quizizz? ›

The most highly regarded and fundamental element of Islamic Art: fancy penmanship, especially highly decorative handwriting, as with a great many flourishes. What are these structures called and what is there function?

What is the nature of early Islamic art? ›

Early Islamic paintings were often vivid and imaginative; some reworked classical Greco-Roman or Sasanian motifs, and others were new. Far from being a period of iconoclasm or avoidance of images, this was a time of renewed engagement with the art of paint.

What was the inspiration of Islamic art during the early Umayyad period? ›

The main artistic influence came from the late antique classical naturalistic tradition, which had been prevalent on the eastern shores of the Mediterranean.

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