Zaha Hadid brings stunning Arab art to London

Published April 15th, 2014 - 10:44 GMT

There’s a stunning show of Arab artwork currently on exhibit in the world’s largest museum- a compact display by ten artists that’s grabbing the spotlight from the 144 other galleries inside London’s Victoria & Albert! The work of the shortlisted artists for the Jameel Prize - 3 is on view until 21 April 2014. Can’t get there before the exhibition hits the road for its international tour?  Sit back and click as we turn you on to the finalists - see what all the buzz is about!

The Jameel is a biennial award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition. It invites a wider debate about the global impact of Islamic culture and it’s got star-packed backing with Dame Zaha Hadid, one of the world’s most innovative architects, as its primary patron. She conceived of the prize after the 2006 redesign of the V&A's splendid Jameel Gallery of Islamic Art as a means to give modern Arab art a higher profile and promote Islamic-inspired design to new audiences. We love that she shines her uber-celebrity onto emerging Arab artists!

The diverse list of finalists must demonstrate direct inspiration by sources rooted in Islamic traditions. Those influences cross-pollinate these works in strokes of outrageous imagination.  Final artifacts range from new Arabic typography to fashion inspired by regional architecture; from calligraphy-come-alive through video to archaic floor tiles rendered in spices. While sidestepping politics, there is a clear nod to social responsibility.

About 270 nominees from countries as diverse as Algeria, Kosovo, Norway, Brazil and Azerbaijan were invited to submit samples of recent work for judging by an independent panel. A shortlist of best submissions was created and finalists then showed their work in a special exhibition at the V&A. The judges selected a winner, this year awarding £25,000 to Turkish designers Dice Kayek for Istanbul Contrast, a collection of garments that evoke Istanbul’s vibrant architectural and artistic heritage.

The V&A was the first museum to purposely collect art from the Islamic world, beginning in the 1850s. The Museum's mission was to reform design, believing that Islamic ideas about pattern structure and matching decoration to shape and function could improve British design (as indeed they did). The Jameel Prize emphasizes this link between the Islamic art of the past and contemporary practice worldwide.

The first Jameel Prize exhibition in 2009 travelled to venues in the Middle East and North Africa, and the 2011 series toured Europe and the United States. Future prizes will travel to new regions, increasingly opening the world’s eyes to the inventiveness of Arab artists as they demonstrate that ancient traditions can be vividly relevant to the contemporary world.

Sit back and enjoy the slideshow, and meet the new wonders of the Arab art world! 

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