The Jameel Prize 5 will be on exhibit from 28 June through 25 November, 2018 at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. It’s the international award for contemporary design inspired by Islamic tradition. As befits artworks that are out of this world, let’s quote American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who recently tweeted, “Bears repeating: Creativity that satisfies & affirms your world view is Entertainment. Creativity that challenges & disrupts your world view is Art.”
The V&A houses one of the world’s great collections of Islamic art from the Middle East. In the 1850s, it began to collect art from the Islamic world, and it was the first institution in the world to do so with a purpose. This can be seen at its best in the Museum’s splendid Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art.
The Jameel exhibition explores the relationship between Islamic art, craft, and design as part of a wider debate about contemporary Islamic culture and its world role as reflected in the work of current practitioners in these fields.
First awarded in 2009, the £25,000 Jameel Prize is held every two years, when work by the finalists is shown in an international touring exhibition. The prize is open to artists and designers from any ethnic, religious or cultural background.
The eight finalists in this fifth edition have connections with countries as diverse as Bangladesh, Iraq, France and the USA. Their varied practices range from architecture and painting, fashion design to abstract work and multi-media installation, all of which show the richness of Islamic tradition as a source for contemporary creativity, which in turn will show how the Islamic past can be relevant to our own times.
Meet the eight finalists of Jameel Prize 5:
Kamrooz Aram (b. 1978, Shiraz, Iran) lives and works in New York, USA. He graduated with a MFA from Columbia University in 2003. Through Aram’s diverse practice, which includes painting, collage, drawing and installation, he uses images as a tool to engage in the complicated relationship between traditional non-Western art and Western Modernism. His multimedia installation Ephesian Fog, 2016, is shown above.
Hayv Kahraman (b. 1981, Baghdad, Iraq) lives and works in Los Angeles, USA. She graduated in web design from the University of Umeå, Sweden in 2006 and in graphic design from the Accademia di Arte e Design di Firenze, Italy in 2005. Kahraman’s practice spans painting, drawing and sculpture and reflects her experience as an Iraqi refugee.
His oil on linen, The Translator, from the series How Iraqi Are You?, 2015, is our lead image.
Hala Kaiksow (b. 1990) lives and works in Manama, Bahrain. She graduated with a Master of Collection Design from Polimoda, Florence, Italy in 2015 and with a Bachelor in Fine Arts from Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA in 2012. Hala founded her eponymous, sustainable womenswear label in 2016. As a fashion designer, Hala borrows from her Arab heritage and works at re-contextualizing it with a modern outlook. Traditional craft and handiwork is imperative to her work, incorporating traditional hand weaving but also experimenting with diversified materials and textures.
Kaiksow’s wool and denim Shepherd’s Coat and Momohiki Jumpsuit, from the Wandress Collection, 2015, wool and denim are shown above.
Mehdi Moutashar (b. 1943, Iraq) lives and works in Arles, France. He graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts, Baghad, Iraq in 1966 and the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris, France in 1970. He was Professor at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, from 1974 – 2008. Moutashar’s art lies at the confluence of two artistic traditions, the western heritage of geometric abstraction and the Islamic aesthetic tradition of geometrical order and lines. His art is a radical, geometrical abstraction with figures that are never enclosed inside the limits of a contour but open, fragmentary and constantly shifting. His 2017 piece Deux carrés dont un encadré features two squares, one of them framed, made of wood, paint, and elastic wire.
Naqsh Collective was founded by sisters Nermeen (b. 1980, Amman, Jordan) and Nisreen AbuDail (b. 1976, Amman, Jordan) Abudail in 2010 in Amman. nisreen, a qualified architect and nermeen, a graphic designer, bring together their skills to create and exhibit unique pieces of furniture, home accessories and art inspired by both contemporary and traditional Arabic aesthetics. Recently they have adopted the traditions of 18th and 19th century cross stitching embroidery from Syria and Palestine as their sole concept. The sisters document the motifs, names, stories and areas of the embroidery into digital format and then engrave the motifs onto wood, stone, brass and marble, preserving the spirit of the craft yet creating a new contemporary visual language. A detail from their 2015 piece Shawl, made of walnut wood, paint and brass is above.
Younes Rahmoun (b. 1975, Tetouan, Morocco) lives and works in Tetouan, Morocco. He graduated from the Institut National des Beaux-Arts de Tetouan, Morocco in 1998. Across his drawings, installations and videos, Rahmoun incorporates Sufi thought and Oriental philosophy, constantly referencing practices in Islamic art such as patterns, geometry and numbers. His 2016 multimedia installation Tâqiya-Nôr (Hat-light), shown above, was featured at the 57th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, Viva Arte Viva.
Wardha Shabbir (b. 1987, Lahore, Pakistan) lives and works in Lahore, Pakistan. She graduated with a BA in Fine Arts from the National College of Arts, Lahore in 2011, winning the Principal’s Honor Award. She is currently Visiting Lecturer in Fine Arts at the National College of Arts. Trained in traditional miniature painting, her technique consists of the coming together of countless dots as a unit to form an idea on the surface of the paper. Her 2017 piece Two Pillars is rendered on paper with opaque watercolor..
Marina Tabassum (b. 1969, Dhaka, Bangladesh) lives and works in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Tabassum graduated with a B.Arch from Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology in 1994. She is the principal of Marina Tabassum Architects (MTA), a company which aims to establish a global language of architecture yet rooted to the place, putting climate, materials, site, culture and local history first. As a result, projects are carefully chosen and are limited in number per year. They range from Master Planning of Eco Resorts to twelve storied residential blocks. For Jameel Prize 5, she is shortlisted for her project Bait ur Rouf Mosque in Dhaka, Bangladesh for which she also received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2014-2016. Her 2012 Prayer Hall, Bait ur Rouf Mosque, Dhaka, Bangladesh, is shown above.
Best seen in person, if you happen to be England this summer. Otherwise learn more at each artist’s website.
Images :: Kamrooz Aram: photo courtesy of the artist and Green Art Gallery, Dubai Hayv kahraman; Hayv Kahraman: photo courtesy of Defares Collection; Hala Kaiksow: photo © Sergio Miranda; Mehdi Moutashar: photo © Fabrice Leroux; Naqsh Collective: photo by Nabil Qutteineh; Younes Rahmoun: photo of the artist and Galerie Imane Farès; Wardha Shabbir: photo courtesy of the artist and © Usman Javed; Marina Tabassum: photo by Sandro di Carlo Darsa.