Art in the press

Modern Arab art at a glance, the star Kofi Attah (Jordan)

ART is the buzzword of communication. Paintings have become vital as a form of interaction in a rapidly moving world. Today, it is the visual images that speak out. They disseminate the message as fast as light.

In contemporary Arab societies, visual art has come to occupy a crucial place in the field of creativity and intellectual exploration. The emergence of this new mode of pictorial expression adopted by the Arabs has brought about numerous changes since the beginning of the century,
and led to the concept of modernism.

Today, art has a significant role in the study of the sources of creativity in present Arab societies at every level, that include the aesthetic and ideological. The artist, as an individual creator with a specific style and mode of expression, has sought to drive his message across to his audience
and all those interested in art.

Irrefutably, Arab art is expressed in a visual language, emanating from the interdependence of various cultures which are born from the movement of different people from the world. The combined cultural influence of Europe, Africa and Asia has reflected sophistication and adornment.

It is therefore appropriate for Darat Al Funun to display the works of selected contemporary Arab artists as part of its decade of existence. The 10th anniversary celebration exhibition features, photography, paintings, sculpture and ceramics. Forty-seven different artists with 47 very different
approaches to their works-most of them combine in their works the influence of East and West.

There are many artists, Jordanian and others, whose exile outside their countries has impact on their works. They give prominence to scenes taken from social life and historical events by means of figurative signs.

The Jordanian artist, Nabil Shehadeh lives in Sweden, his native Jordan has inspired most of his abstract paintings. Others such as the Syrian Marwan Kassab Bachi, who lives in Berlin translates his profound sensibilities, beyond any form of mimesis and reveals his human experiences in an irresistible manner.

The exhibition under the theme, 'The 10th Anniversary of Contemporary Arab Artists "is loaded with painters whose recent works extend a decade's enquiry into the passionate relation of the abstract and reality, in which the intimate is as much in the frame as the great political and social events that shape them.

Other artists include the Palestinian,i. His native Jerusalem has inspired many of his water colors. On the other hand, the Jordanian Rafiq Lahham is much influenced by his surroundings which he portrays in his etchings.

However, it is to the Assistant Director of Darat Al Funun, that particular attention must be paid.

Adnan Sharif is a painter with a talent far beyond his generation. "My paintings are musical" he says. During the 1993 Jerash musical festival he went on stage to synchronize his 2m x 1m paintings with the on-going music that thrilled many musical fans at the concert.

Some of the artists find their inspiration in popular imagery. This is found in the visual universe of the Tunisian Gouider Triki whose works are based on the poetical elements of the image. The Moroccan Muhammad Kacim and the Egyptian Adam Henein who paint scenes with a great liberty of interpretation, all adopt a signifying figuration.

The exhibition is a single unity devoted to Arab art. The works of 21 artists are seen in the blue house and the rest of the 26 are displayed in the lower halls of the foundation where video screen shows the many exhibitions Darat Al Funun has devoted to the innovating Arab artists. Two giant boards in impressive green, black and yellow colors, which display various pictures of figures.

Darat Al Funun is dedicated to promoting contemporary creativity in the widest sense, bringing various forms of artistic expression together and relating creation and form to each other. In 10 years of intense activity, it has become an essential venue for those interested in contemporary arts.

The contemporary venue assembles various Arab artists living in different parts of the world in a context that modern Arab arts are evolved. Though it is difficult to give an inventory of all the approaches since the very beginning, it has vividly revealed the creative dynamism of ideas
underlying modern Arab culture.

Finally it demonstrates what can be attained through individuals. This can be seen through the works of Ammar Khammash, a painter and an architect, who helped in the renovating works of Darat Al Funun. Or the Sudanese who has specialized in graphic arts and who now lives and teaches arts in the USA.

Organizations and cultures working together, 12/3/1998.
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