A look into the Art and History of the Middle East

A look into the Art and History of the Middle East

By Kelsey Lyons

The Middle East is often portrayed as poor, dirty and uninviting. However, the Art of the Middle East showcases art that shows what the Middle East truly is, it’s cultured, with beautiful landscapes and rich history. This book was produced by Saeb Eigner and the Foreword written by Zaha Hadid.

The book is organized in sections making it easy for the reader to make their way through the book and they can pick and choose what they want to read and when. The first section being Sacred Scripture. This section showcases pieces containing Arabic Calligraphy in many shapes, sizes and colours. One piece in particular The Infinity Tower, contains wooden beams and mirrors. Produced by Ola Hejazi and Bassam Daher, rich in colour and textures. This pieces demonstrates the fact that humans must go through many levels and experiences to reach God. The script expresses gratitude and faith in God. God remains an extremely important influence in the people of the Middle East.

"The Infinity Tower" by Ola Hejazi and Bassam Daher

“The Infinity Tower” by Ola Hejazi and Bassam Daher

Music has and continues to play a vital role in the Middle East and Arab world. Many singers have influence powerful changes to social and political issues in the region. In the Music and Performance section Ali Jabri’s photo of singer Umm Kulthum is featured. Kulthum often dressed as a man when performing religious songs to avoid disapproval of the public. However, this photo showed her in very ladylike clothing, with her makeup and hair done up, which eventually helped more and more female singers want to perform as well.

Umm Kulthum  By Ali Jabri

Umm Kulthum
By Ali Jabri

There are many misconceptions about the Islam culture, for example it’s said that they forbid the depiction of the human body, which is not true. People within the Islam culture do have individual opinions toward it, but nothing is written in stone. In the section Portraiture and the Body, the portrait of Ghada Amer done by Youssef Nabil is featured. Amer is lying down in front of one of her own paintings, and this is sometimes seen as challenging “traditional concepts of women.”

"Ghada with Canvas Behind," by Yousseff Nabil

“Ghada with Canvas Behind,” by Yousseff Nabil

In the movies the Middle East is often seen as a dry desert and extremely hot, this is only partially true. The Middle East is known for its many rivers (The Nile and Tigros), there are also many mountains and Lebanon is known for the Cedar Tree.
Veresk Unity, by Mehdi Farhadian is no exception. It’s a painting of the Verest Bridge in Northern Iran, it shows in “perfect harmony,” with it’s exquisite natural setting of mountains surrounding the bridge, rich in colour.

"Veresk Unity," by Mehdi Farhadian

“Veresk Unity,” by Mehdi Farhadian

Don’t judge a book by its cover, this one just like the Middle East has much more to offer with a closer look.

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