In this issue, we go back to basics and review definitions of frequently (or infrequently) words in the art world while referencing art from the MENASA region. IN THE FOLLOWING ARTICLES, YOU’LL DISCOVER AN ALPHABETICAL LIST OF ART-RELATED WORDS PAIRED WITH ARTWORKS THAT BEST ILLUSTRATE EACH WORD’S MEANING. ALL WORKS ARE BY MIDDLE EASTERN ARTISTS WHO HAVE LEFT AN INDELIBLE IMPRINT UPON THE INTERNATIONAL ART SCENE.
A process of printing where ink is passed through a stencilled mesh or cloth screen stretched across a frame. The process is sometimes called serigraphy or silk-screen printing, and it is a manual labour-intensive process if done with a manual press, whilst automatic presses are completely automated and require little to no input. Screen printing is an ancient art form with an early version of the technique first pioneered in China, around AD 950 as a method of printing patterns onto fabric.
(b. Baghdad 1939, lives and works in London, UK)
Dia Azzawi’s all-encompassing art practice includes paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and books in which visual art interacts with prose and poetry. Arabic and Western influences in his life are evident in his bodies of work, crossing geographical and cultural boundaries. Nasheed Al Jassad (Bodily Anthem) Tel El Zaataar continues Azzawi’s experiments with coloured abstract form to reflect on ancient and contemporary Iraqi and Arab histories. This work in particular, a vignette of sorts rendered via screen-printing (silkscreen), was created in response to the siege of Tel El Zaatar that took place during the Lebanese Civil War. Azzawi possesses a deep awareness and sensitivity to human suffering, thus showing the importance of solidarity between different cultures and civilisations in times of conflict. The artist received degrees in archaeology from the University of Baghdad in 1962 and fine arts from Baghdad’s Institute of Fine Arts in 1964. Azzawi worked in Iraq’s Department of Antiquities until 1976, and since then has resided in London. His mural Sabra and Shatila (1982-1985) is part of the Tate Modern collection.
Site-specific art refers to an artist’s intervention in a specific locale, creating a work that is integrated with its surroundings that the artist explores while planning and creating the artwork.
DESERT X ALULA
Desert X AlUla is a site-responsive exhibition staged in the Saudi Arabian desert of AlUla, an ancient oasis and home to historical and archaeological sites including Ancient Dadan, the capital of the Dadan and Lihyan Kingdoms. Co-curated by Saudi curators Raneem Farsi and Aya Alireza with Desert X Artistic Director Neville Wakefield, the inaugural edition in the Middle East, according to Susan L. Davis, Desert X founder and president, seeks to “shine a light on contemporary art being made in Saudi Arabia and the neighbouring region, bringing the work of international artists to new audiences.” Nasser AlSalem’s Amma Qabel sculpture with both interior and exterior landscapes embraces the idea of time as a continuum that connects all cultures and civilisations, whilst Sherin Guirguis’s Kholkhal Aliaa, wedged within a rock crevice, is a sculpture of a Bedouin anklet. The work considers the role of cultural memory in shaping ideas of the present and is also a symbol of female power and agency, as well as a metaphor for journeying, thus referencing the old city of AlUla. Desert X AlUla ran from January 31-March 7, 2020.
A mix of two primary colours (red, blue, yellow) to create a new colour. The secondary colours are cyan (a mixture of blue and green), magenta (a mixture of blue and red) and yellow (a mixture of green and red).
An ancient form of art referring to a representation by an artist of themselves dating as far back as the Middle Ages. Portraiture was pioneered by the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans and continues to remain a tried and true practice among leading artists.
Used by many artists as a process to quickly get ideas onto paper. Sketches can be preliminary or a rough drawing to inform future work, or they can act as a record of something an artist sees or witnesses.
(b.1934 Damascus, Syria, d.2016)
Syrian artist Marwan Kassab-Bachi has depicted human figure since the 1950s, drawing social and political events from everyday life, as well as depictions from masks and other inanimate objects. Kassab-Bachi’s expansive oeuvre consists of large-scale oil on canvas paintings, aquarelle works on paper, as well as etchings and quick sketches executed in pencil. For his 99 Heads Sseries (Ibn Arabi), 99 abstract heads were rendered as etchings done between 1997-98, referencing Sufism and the 99 names of God.
A sheet of paper, metal, plastic, fabric or wax perforated with a design through which materials such as ink, powder or paint can be passed through to create a printed surface.
A VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE APPEARED IN PRINT IN SELECTIONS, ART GLOSSARY #52 PAGE 130-138.