Sirak Melkonian: Alien Landscapes

Iranian artist Melkonian paints abstract landscapes with little reference to the familiar. His fascination with spatial extension and compression create a scape that frees the imagination – in a way that is both emotionally engaging and alien.

S. Malkonian 1976

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Oussama Diab: Pop & Graffiti inspired expressionism

Diab’s pop & graffiti inspired expressionist paintings reflect on current events and concerns. With a touch of humor and a load of contrast and symbolism, he positions his subjects in center-stage of an otherwise nondescript background. Diab’s paintings of balloon headed figures with darts and flower pistols “playfully depict fate, violence and the ease some have at taking life.”

Born in 1977, Palestinian artist Oussama Diab has quickly gained prominence in the Middle East Art Scene. He has been featured in many exhibitions throughout the region since graduating from the Faculty of Arts in Damascus in 2002. His solo exhibit ‘In the Name of Freedom’ at Ayyam Gallery, Dubai (DIFC) will be opening tonight 17 Sept – 30 Oct.


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Youssef Nabil

Born in Cairo born, Nabil grew up during the glory years of Egyptian cinema. He plays with the boundary between fantasy and reality going back in time with his pieces to childhood memories of cinematic stories, when dreams and reality were one. His career began with him staging his friend to act out scenes he recalled from films he loved. One time while photographing in a hotel in Cairo he was coicidentally stopped and asked for a hand by David La Chapelle. He later went on to work with him in New York as well as other prominent studios in Paris.

Nabil’s work is distinguished by the nostalgic effect he creates with hand-colored silver gelatin pictures; reminiscent of the aesthetic characteristic of olf film stock & technicolor. He works with a variety of subjects and has often returned to Egypt to work with famous film stars, singers and writers, capturing their portaits, as a way to immortalize his favorites.

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Going, Going, Gone?

by Ghia Zaatari and Rula Zaki

Bespoke| Aug. 2012

Click here to read in PDF

Bespoke International Magazine

‘The Whirling Dervishes’ (1929), Mahmoud Said

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Saliba Douaihy, Untitled (Village on a Hill), c. 1940

Saliba Douaihy, Abstract Landscape

Douaihy was one of the main figures in the development of Modernism in the Middle East. This pair captures his evolution from a naturalistic form of post-impressionism to something far more abstract.

Naseer Chaura, Landscape, 1979

Naseer Chaura, Untitled, 1990

Chaura, a syrian artist, works in a variety of styles but often draws inspiration from natural surrounding. Can see post impressionist language in  ‘Landscape’ with a more ‘organic’ and ‘surreal’ style to his untitled painting.

” The conventional view of the Arab countries and Iran as lands of searing heat and aridity is only partially true. The Sahara and the deserts of the Middle East are indeed among the hottest and driest places on Earth, but many parts of the region are famous for their lushness, including the coastal areas of North Africa, the Levant and Iran, each with its own significant seasonal variations. Moreover, the region’s great rivers, such as the Nile, the Tigris and the Euphrates, have for millennia provided vital water supplies, creating fertile zones for much of the year. Meanwhile, dramatic mountain ranges and high peaks cut across the region…”

Extracted from Eigner, Saeb. Art of the Middle East: Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World and Iran. Merrel Publisher 2010. Chapter Nature and the Land

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Ayman Baalbaki

Baalbaki was born in Lebanon in 1975, the year the Civil War started. At only a few months he was forced to flee his home in Rass-el-Dikwineh to seek refuge in Wadi Abu Jmil, Beirut. Displacement was frequent for him and many others during the war.

Baalbaki recognizes himself as part of a generation of artist as ‘having lived 20 years of it and don’t have anything to say but about war.’ He confronts the impact of war, particularly on the human psyche; and challenges society’s attempts to conceal it. He deals with both his personal and national experiences of destruction, loss and identity of the victim. Often with images of hollowed buildings, the dead laid to rest,  faces covered with the traditional ‘kaffiyeh’ and family essentials packed to flee at any instance.The ‘kaffiyeh‘ is used to honour the Arab Man; Standing tall and laid to rest with a question surrounding their identity but not their fate.

He paints with fervour buildings devoid of human life, yet replete with their stories. What were once homes, serve as a record of the destruction brought on by the civil war and repeated Israeli invasions. A scar but also a ‘standing monument’ to resistance with a contrasting floral background to suggest a rising sense of hope.

Baalbaki currently lives and works in Beirut. He often exhibits in Beirut and Paris (where he spent time living and studying). He has also popularly exhibited with Rose Issa Project in London and Art Dubai in recent years.

Series from ‘tamouz’, July 2006 war

Experimenting with surfaces of local uniqueness, Baalbaki uses the top of a traditional vegetable cart. 

Good Morning, Wadi Abu, Jmil

Read detailed description of Baalbaki’s work, by Sulaf Zakharia:  &  Corinne Martin


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Hossam Sakr

Thinker 2005

The Sea 1998

The King 2006

Three 2008

On me 2008

Hossam Sakr, born in Egypt in 1967, is both an active Art instructor and writer having taught in prominent Universities in both Egypt and Bahrain. Some of his work can be found at the Art Corner Gallery Zamalek.

His blog:

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