The Jameel Prize Announces First Ever Dual-Winners for Art and Design Inspired by Islamic Tradition

London, United Kingdom—For the first time in the history of the Jameel Prize, two finalists have been asked to share the prestigious award for their contributions to furthering contemporary art inspired by Islamic traditions. Iraqi artist Mehdi Moutashar and Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum will share the £25,000 which was awarded last week during a star-studded ceremony at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Presiding over the ceremony was president of Art Jameel, Fady Jameel, who recognized the two for their outstanding contributions to establishing new horizons and furthering art inspired by their Muslim faith. The annual event marks the reno-vation of the Victoria and Albert’s gallery Islamic Art rebuilt in 2009 thanks to funding in part do-nated by Mr. Jameel.

This year, the prize committee recognized Tabassum for her expressive designs conceived for the Bait ur Rouf mosque, which was built in Dhaka, Bangladesh, in 2012, inspired by Sultanate mosque architecture and what she saw as the ability of light to reconcile and play with religious structures. “Light is a beautiful material to work with,” Tabussum said. “If you can use it proper-ly—how you bring in the light, the openings and apertures—I think it can make it spiritual and very contemplative,” she said when describing her work.

Marina Tabassum has won the Jameel Prize for the Bait ur Rouf
Mosque in Dhaka, Bangladesh

Meanwhile Moutashar was recognized for championing work inspired by Islamic geometrical patterns and abstraction. The playful works communicate across cultures and continents. His works are deeply inspired by connections to his homeland and the geometrical patterns he saw growing up in Iraq in the 1950s and 60s. Later, after he left to France, he remembered these pat-ters and integrated them with the emergent style of minimalism.

Though not awarded the prize, the beautifully expressive works made by Naqsh Collective con-sisting of embroidered patterns from Palestinian dresses laser cut into wood then hand painted were certainly among the exhibition’s highlights. Rounding out the short-listed nominees were five other artists and designers—Kamrooz Aram, Hayv Kahraman, Hala Kaiksow, Younes Rahmoun and Wardha Shabbir.

The exhibition is curated by Tim Stanley and Salma Tuqan and runs until November. Now in its 5th edition, the Jameel Art Prize has quickly become one of the most well-attended and most-watched art events celebrating emerging art from Islamic cultures from around the world. Past laureates of the Jameel Prize include Turkish fashion label Dice Kayek, Pakistani artist Ghulam Mohammad, Algerian sculptor Rachid Koraïchi, and Iran-born artist Afruz Amighi.