Although the middle east contains a vast variety of cultures, ethnic histories, and economic structures, not all of its countries have been readily represented within the western art world. It may be the recent enormous and tragic political movements dealing with immigration and a stronger awareness of the world's refugees, regardless, this knowledge and interest has created a shift towards a better understanding of art from areas such as Iraq, Iran, and Syria.
The Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art in New York recently held an exhibition, "Text/Ures of Iraq: Contemporary Art From the Collection of Oded Halahmy", which features work from the personal collection of Baghdad-born sculptor, Oded Halahmy, alongside eight contemporary artists all from Iraq. The exhibition focuses on the literary culture of Iraq, including a variety of mediums displaying modern Hebrew calligraphy and other important texts. For centuries, Iraq, and specifically Baghdad were known as the center for knowledge and learning.
The critical importance of these histories and traditions are rarely considered within western art, and the significance of their understanding can only further the worldwide perspective. Another example of this showcasing of art from these regions is happening this upcoming fall in Tehran with their very first art fair.
The fair will feature untapped art markets, serving to introduce the modern art world to Iranian artists and vice versa. Not the first of its kind in the middle east, with art fairs ranging from Istanbul to Abu Dhabi, it is the first to reign a certain sector that has been rarely seen. The Tehran Art Fair hopes to create a platform for contemporary artists and buyers, spurning a financial and economic market.
The art activity coming from these areas provides more opportunity to better understand sections of the globe that are not as popularly explored, as well as view the aesthetic beauty unique to their culture.
Hassan Massoudy, Sur terre il y a place pour tous, Schiller, 2006. Courtesy of Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.
Ismail Khayat, Untitled, from the Anfal Memory Series, 2006. Courtesy of Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.