EL SEED SPOKE BY PHONE
FROM HIS DUBAI STUDIO
Let’s start with “calligraffiti.” There are quite a few artists who do it now. Did you coin the term?
No, to be honest with you, this is a term that has been used the first time in New York for a show, I think in ’84. A show created by Jeffrey Deitch for some calligraphy artists and some graffiti artists from New York. He had this vision 30 years ago that calligraphy and graffiti would merge together. To be honest with you, me today, I don’t even use this word to define myself. I’m just using calligraphy in my artwork. I do sculpture, I do canvases, I do art installations. I’m trying to get out of the box that I think I used to be in a few years ago.
Published — Sunday 7 February 2016
Featured image 1: Gharem Studio presents ‘Ricochet’ (image from The Arab British Centre)
Image 2 & 3: Ajlan Gharem, Paradise Has Many Gates, 2015. Courtesy of Gharem Studio
A group of young Saudi contemporary artists is causing a sensation in the country and throughout the Middle East with their modern works, questioning some of the aspects of our society.
Gathered in art collective called “Edge of Arabia,” these 20 men and 18 women are producing some of the most modern and sophisticated works of art I have ever seen. Unlike the more traditional Saudi artists who only paint landscapes or abstract images, these young innovators use digital photography, painting and large installations to express themselves and engage the viewer.
Ajlan Gharem, a young Saudi who was born in Khamis Mushayt and now teaches mathematics at a public high school in Riyadh, recently made a small mosque completely from wire, with a minaret, which lights up in green lights at night. Faithful can come and pray, and there is an imam to lead the five prayers of the day.
An American tourism professional who captured Cairo’s politically charged graffiti during the Arab Spring is organizing an exhibition of her photography in Washington D.C., the Capitol Hill Times reports.
Genevieve Hathaway moved to Egypt in 2011 to help a friend start her tour company. She unexpectedly found herself in the middle of the Egyptian Revolution—at a time when many Egyptian artists took to the streets of Cairo to express themselves.
Hathaway told the Capitol Hill Times “I was living on Tahrir Square watching the street art evolve and nobody was documenting it. This was extremely evocative art that stood a chance of being lost forever, and much of it will never be seen.” Determined to preserve the Egyptian people’s revolutionary art she resolved to document as many murals across Cairo as possible.
Before the Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was forced to resign in 2011, citizens who voiced opposition to the government were risking jail, torture and even death. However, the danger didn’t discourage some brave individuals from making their feelings known.
“The street art gave people something to talk about in a culture that never allowed political discussion,” Hathaway said. “I want to empower people to see the Arab Spring in a different light. I don’t think the Arab Spring was a failed event. It brought the masses together for a common goal: democracy.”
War on Walls: Egypt’s Arab Spring Street Art is on view at St. Marks Cathedral until February 15