5 of the Most Famous Middle Eastern Artists

Art represents the beauty of life and is perhaps the reason why people even spend billions of dollars in owning art pieces. Many countries have produced brilliant artists and the Middle East is no different, as it has provided the world with Middle Eastern art. A common question asked is, what exactly is Middle Eastern art? There is no irrefutable answer to it as it is very subjective. However, if one has to put Middle Eastern art in a few words, it definitely has to be thought-driven and socially engaged art with an experimental touch to it. Here is a list of five such interesting artists that include both contemporary, and traditional artists who have created compelling pieces of art in the region. 

1. Tarek Al-Ghoussein 

This artist has his room in Palestine and he is an expert in the field of photography. He is an NYU Abu Dhabi professor of visual arts who loves to capture performative images. Most of the photographs captured by him talk about space and silence. His work has been so impressive that it has also been acquired by the British Museum and Guggenheim Museum. Most of his photographs explore his Palestinian identity and his personal identity, and Attitude Status attached to it. Through the medium of his art, he tries to draw attention to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Photographs of the Kuwaiti housing development which will soon be demolished, and 250 islands of Abu Dhabi, are a few of his notable projects. 

2. Yasmine Nasser Diaz

Diaz is a multidisciplinary artist that creates art surrounding the themes of third-culture identity, gender, and religion, which are considered very sensitive. The themes are close to her, as they impacted her highly during her youth. Most of her artwork is her personal narrative, and the themes of her artwork resonate with people who have been brought up in similar cultures and values. Her artwork is truly diverse in nature. For instance, her Teenage Bedroom series is all about colors, while her other works talk about the struggle of a conservative household. Diaz talks about a new Love Status that can be achieved through equality of sexes. 

3. Hiba Kalache 

She is known for her poetic composition in her artwork that depicts the contradiction of life. Most of her themes revolve around the idea that if there is beauty, there is pain. Her abstract painting features a soft palette in the background, and a burst of colors and scribbles in the foreground. When looked deeply, one would be able to see hints of both erotic and floral elements that harbors an amalgam of delicateness, along with violence and tension. Kalache claims that most of her artwork is autobiographical and features elements of everyday life and trauma. Her artwork often requires deep focus from the audience, to understand the deeper meaning behind them for building a correlation. 

4. Shabnam Yousefian 

In her artwork, realism meets abstraction and creates beautiful muted minimal scenic paintings. Yousefian’s artwork is known for its disorienting effect which forces the viewer to look harder and deeply for understanding the different viewpoints depicted in her painting. Her artwork stems from how humans perceive matter, and this psychological element crystallizes in her artwork. In a statement, she said that the inner sense and the mindset are reflected on the images and nothing in life, inside us or the elements around us, are stable, and that her work tries to demonstrate this particular characteristic of life. 

5. Nicky Nodjoumi 

Nodjoumi is one of the key artistic figures belonging to the Iranian diaspora. By creating posters in the mid-1970s, he became politically active and criticized the ruling Shah along with his circle. Later, he settled in the United States. His artwork is known for satire and representation of the current state of the world, and is considered daring by many. The chaotic political climate is often addressed by Nodjoumi in his artwork in a comical way. Most of the references of his artwork involve his personal life, history, and surrealistic references. In addition to that, he also portrays the power dynamics that exist between humans and animals. A few of his notable works are Pulling, 2017, and Obsession with content, 2015.

WE SAID THIS: Which other Middle Eastern artists inspire you?