SELECTIONS delves into the world of acquisitions, exploring what museums and galleries have been adding to their collections in the past five years as well as featuring images and summaries of works and artists.

Bio: Syrian b. 1979
Title: Cirque Syrien, 2014
Medium: Acrylic and ink on paper
Size: 60 x 83 cm
Acquired by: The British Museum, London
Artist represented by: Art on 56th, Beirut
Acquisition date: 2016
Inscription type: signature and date
Exhibited: not on display




Influenced by the dramatic events in his country, Mohammad Omran, a Syrian “plastic artist”, expresses irony and violence in his works. This time, he chose the drawing to transcend and transform the subject. Mohammad Omran presents a set of drawings in ink and acrylic: dictators, soldiers, Islamists, intelligence agents, but also clowns, are superimposed in an atmosphere of comic circus, bitter buffoonery.

Courtesy of Art on 56th
©The Trustees of the British Museum
2016,6005.1. Funded by CaMMEA

MAHMOUD HAMADANIBio: Iranian, b.1958
Title: From the series Requiem, 1999
Medium: Ink on paper
Size: 56 x 76 cm
Acquired by: The British Museum, London
Artist represented by: Art on 56th, Beirut
Inscription type: signature and date on the back
Exhibited: Not on display





Artist statement
My drawings are products of untraceable impressions – renderings of fleeting abstractions dancing in my mind. I give shape to these impressions using my own language of drawing. The works are explorations of basic dualisms, such as Order and Chaos, Chance and Will and Light and Shadow; phenomena with which we grapple every day, often with little awareness. These works are visual statements that are original, efficient and impactful. Creating these works is akin to traversing the dichotomous realm of doing as much as possible and as little as necessary – the essence of Minimalism.

The series Requiem is a study of the dynamics of order and chaos. The rhythmic pattern in each drawing is restrained and guided by a simple structure. This can be a grid, a line or a dot. As such, the drawings evoke complex systems. And just as in any complex entity, there is a need for structure and freedom. Without a structure the system is not sustainable, and without freedom it cannot thrive. Look closely at each drawing and you’ll see myriad haphazard elements. Step back, and a resolved serenity appears. This latter is what inspired the name Requiem. Just as in music, Requiem is evocative of the resolution one seeks after a disruption caused by a loss.

Technical statement
Each drawing is the product of constant repetition and variation in shape and size of the individual marks. I use a pen to draw the thousands of elements that are the building blocks of a drawing, at a fast pace. The shape of the drawings involves the gradual increase of the size of the markings. I have to maintain a rhythm in the process of the creation of each work. That’s why I create these drawings in one sitting as the rhythm cannot be interrupted.

Courtesy of Art on 56th
Credit line: © The Trustees of the
British Museum
2001,1127,0.1. Funded by: Brooke
Sewell Permanent Fund

Bio: Iranian – British
Title: Surveillance, 1990
Medium: Lightjet print on paper, Artist’s Proof 2
Size: 51.50 x 152.50 cm
Acquired by: The British Museum, London
Artist represented by: Leila Heller Gallery, Dubai
Acquisition date: 2016

Mitra Tabrizian’s mise-en-scene titled Surveillance includes bankers in an office building, women walking through Tehran’s surrounding mountains, a man standing on the sidewalk – nothing seems out of the ordinary – yet Tabrizian stages these evocative scenes as if we are walking in on the subjects mid-scene, immediately before or after the climax of the narrative. Often the images appear cold or even disturbing in large part due to the utter disconnect between the characters.

Courtesy of Leila Heller Gallery
Credit line: 2016,6017.1. Gift of
Mohammed Afkhami
© The Trustees of the British Museum.


Bio: Iraqi, b.1960
Title: Ali’s Boat Diary 1, 99 pieces, 2014
Medium: Indian ink and charcoal
Size: 19.3 x 29 cm. each print of artist diary
Edition 2 of 5
Acquired by: The British Museum, London
Artist represented by: Ayyam Gallery, Dubai
Acquisition date: 2015
Inscription type: seal
Inscription language: Arabic



“I wish this boat takes me to you.” These are the words, written on a drawing of a boat by the artist’s young nephew that inspired this work, which narrates the story of Ali, a young boy who dreams of escaping the nightmarish reality of present-day Iraq. As a form of diary, using a child-like style, the book feels as if the artist is in dialogue with Ali, although is in fact a conversation between the artist and himself. The book forms the basis for a video work.

Courtesy of Ayyam Gallery
Credit line: © The Trustees of the British
2015,6022.1. Funded by CaMMEA


Bio: Lebanese, b. 1948
Title: Qisah (Story), 2016
Medium: Pen and ink on Arches paper
Size: 10 x 12 cm each
Acquired by: The British Museum, London
Artist represented by: Saleh Barakat Gallery –
Lebanon, Beirut
Acquisition date: 2019


Courtesy of Agial Art Gallery and Saleh Barakat Gallery
Credit line: © The Trustees of the British Museum
2019,6013.1–12. Funded by CaMMEA</h6




SELECTIONS is a platform for the arts, focusing on the Arab World.

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Cultural Narratives foundation is an extensive collection that is travelling the world by leading established and emerging talents aiming to reflect the culture of the region in their works.