New Vision: Arab Contemporary Art in the 21st Century

Posted by Tarek Atrissi


I was glad to be part – as a contributing Author – of the book “New Vision: Arab Contemporary Art in the 21st Century”, published by Thames & Hudson and Edited by Hossein Amirsadeghi and Salwa Mikadi. With over 500 stunning colour illustrations “New Vision: Arab Contemporary Art in the 21st Century” offers the most comprehensive, scholarly and in-depth survey of what is happening at the cutting-edge of art in the Arab world.
Among the five essays in the book that offers a rich context and analysis of contemporary Arab art, my essay -“The Transformed Vernacular New language”- focused on the growing role of graphic design and visual communication as a form of personal expression; and expression reflecting a local visual language developed by a young generation of artists. The essays looks at the development of the discipline of graphic design in the Arab world, and its influences and growth as a contemporary form of visual art- a design language searching for its unique local visual flavor and constantly and curiously looking for visual elements and icons from the past century to be recycled across all fields of visual communication. An analytical look at the continuous search for an independent artistic expression that relates uniquely to the Arab environment, and that lead to rapid developments in the fields of Arabic typography, street graphics, urban art and visual identities, among other art forms. The essays sheds light on the adaptation of popular imagery from public spaces and the transformation of vernacular art into high art.

As part of the 90 illustrated profiles feature of key artists, organizations and galleries, my selection of artists to be included in the book was primarily based on artists with coming from a strong graphic background, using their graphic skills, sense of composition and design sensibility as a main essence behind their creative artistic expression.

Previews of the book are shown above. A recommended read for art lovers as well as anyone interested in the broader Arab cultures.