Paris Trip Nov. 2012
I headed to Paris for five days this month to check out what exciting Middle Eastern art-related events the city had to offer. I chose to attend the week of Paris Photo, which I found to be a fantastic fair. Paris’ art scene is booming, and I come away from this trip with a belief that Paris is definitely in the league of the art capitals of the world: London, New York, and Hong Kong.
In terms of Middle Eastern art, Paris has clearly set itself apart from other cities. With several prominent galleries featuring exhibitions by Middle Eastern artists, Institute Du Monde Arabe’s 25-year anniversary show, and Paris Photo, the city’s Middle Eastern art scene was buzzing. I am not quite sure why it is Paris, of all places, that has such a solid Middle Eastern art establishment. I assume it has a great deal to do with the efforts of the Institute Du Monde Arabe, which is unrivaled for its promotion of Arab arts and culture. I also believe it has to do with the fact that many Middle Eastern artists call Paris home. These factors, combined with a historic relationship between France and the Middle East, has turned the city into a center of Middle Eastern art in Europe.
This year’s Paris Photo, which took place from Nov. 15-18, was very impressive. This year’s Paris Photo, which was held in Paris’ beautiful Grand Palais, was the first I had attended. The fair saw the participation of over 150 international art galleries, including Doha’s East Wing Gallery, which featured works by several Middle Eastern artists. While there weren’t many works by Middle Eastern artists on display, those available, were of high quality.
After waiting in line for almost half an hour, I proceeded into the Grand Palais, and was immediately greeted by a Shirin Neshat work, which was displayed at Paris’ Galerie Jerome De Noirmont booth. The gallery also displayed several other works by Shirin Neshat including
Paris’ Galerie Eric Dupont had several works by Taysir Batnij on display including those from his well-liked ‘Watchtower’ Series.
Edwynn Houk Gallery exhibited a work by Moroccan artist Lalla Essaydi, which gained a lot of interest from fair goers. At all art fairs, Lalla’s works always draws crowds.
Galerie Dominique Fiat featured works by both Hicham Berrada and Hicham Benohoud.
East Wing Doha’s stand was one of the fair’s more popular stands, with crowds constantly hovering around the booth. The gallery had works by Boushra Almutawakel, Newsh Tavakolian, and Waheeda Malullah.
Bulger Gallery had a fantastic work on display by Iranian-Canadian artist Sanaz Mazinani, which was retailing for $4,500.
Overall, the fair was very impressive, with fantastic works from a wide array of artists. Hopefully next year will see the inclusion of more works by Middle Eastern artists and a greater participation of galleries from the region.
Institute Du Monde Arabe: 25 Years of Arab Creativity
One of the main reasons for my Paris trip was to visit the Institute Du Monde Arabe, a pioneering museum dedicated to Arab culture and history. It is extraordinary that such a place exists, not in the Middle East, but in the heart of Europe. It is a fantastic institution that brings much needed awareness to Arab though, history, and culture. I was very impressed with my visit to the Institute, which was crowded with people from across the globe.
Upon walking toward the building, I couldn’t help but notice that the structure itself was quite beautiful. The Institute’s building is covered with beautifully designed glass panels. As I entered the Institute’s premises I was greeted by three of Nadim Karam’s infamous elephant sculptures.
The main museum floors are dedicated to the history of the Arab world, including ancient sculptures, patterns, clothing, and music. The layout is impressive, and each floor consists of a different aspect of Arab history.
The event I was really excited about, however, was the 25 Years of Arab Creativity that was displayed on the lower ground floor. This exhibition brought together the works of some of the today’s finest contemporary Arab artists.
The artists come from across the Arab world, and some of my favorite works are shown below:
Hassan Meer, Enlightenment 2011, 3 Tirages Numeriques, 130 x 180 cm:
Najia Mehadji, Mystic Dance 2, 2011, 160 x 160 cm:
Zakaria Ramhani, You Never Loved Me Father, 2012, 240 x 200 cm:
Safwan Dahoul, Dream 43, 2011, 250 x 400 cm:
Maha Malluh, Barcoding, 2010:
Be sure to also check out the Institute’s gift shop, which has one of the best selection of books related to the Arab world.