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Portfolio preparation advice: What is a portfolio?  "...the voice your ideas". Watch this inspiring clip to get an insight into how you can best prepare your portfolio and portray your talent.
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Huda Lutfi: Still representations of a dynamic voice


An intellect, an artist, an innovator, it’s impossible and possibly counterintuitive to try and categorize the dynamism that is the Egyptian artist, Huda Lutfi.

Huda’s academic pursuits have seen her obtain a PHD in Islamic Culture and History in Montreal. Her continued commitment and passion led her to pursue a career as a distinguished Associate Professor, teaching Islamic Culture and History. Despite never having any formal training as an artist, her extensive knowledge in her specialised academic area has manifested into an array of visual masterpieces.
Mai Serhan 2012 observes that:

‘Indeed, much, if not all, her artistic work has been a visual translation of her historical interests in the city (Cairo). ‘[1]

Huda’s artworks simultaneously present a socio-political and aesthetic challenge. With regard to the former, Huda has become famous for her strong feminist themes that resonate in much of her work. She provides a distinctly feminine angle in her works that is both relevant and in some respects revolutionary. The feminist tones stem from her observation of the lack of female presence in the historical documentation of Islamic culture that she has studied for so long.  She ensures a more wholesome perspective of Egyptian events whilst providing a form of protest by ‘making women the mouthpieces of the city’[2].

She is proactive in advocating female emancipation and as a historian; she recognises the fundamental importance of documenting the journey to emancipation.

Her piece entitled ‘Crossing the Red Line’ (2011) documents an important move in the female struggle. An image of soldiers has been manipulated to represent a truth; that women played an integral part in the revolution. She uses photographs of female faces and applies them on to what appears to be male bodies. These women are portrayed as powerful and liberated, with their assertive stances, ‘walkie talkies’ in hand and heads held high.

Crossing the Red Line: Courtesy of The Artist and The Third Line
One can’t help but feel a degree of sensitivity to the fact that these women are quite literally ‘wearing the trousers’. Which seems to be a paradoxical representation from a feminist point of view; if trousers were viewed in the traditional masculine sense. However, it is a definite example of Huda’s perceptions of ‘imposed identities’. She believes identities such as gender identity is an imposed construct and is in no way definitive or fixed. Thus, we are traditionally it is accepted that trousers are a masculine garment and so is correlational with a masculine identity, Huda seems to want to break this. 

Her work tries to evoke the restrictions that human beings face in their lives, be it restrictions on thinking, restrictions on the body. She believes there is a way out of getting too attached to our ‘imposed’ identities.[3]

The art work shows both men and women crossing a red line, which is symbolic in two ways’; crossing the line of fear that all Egyptian revolutionaries faced. As well as crossing a line towards equality; an important step for the women’s liberation movement.  

Aesthetically, her images are equally as bold and confrontational as the message she wishes to portray. She juxtaposes the modern and the traditional, the real and the imagined, and attempts to collaborate styles transcending cultural lines.

Repetition is a style that Huda is very fond of. On many of her pieces she repeats the Sufi text, to decorate her works. This is significant as writing is highly significant when decorating object and building in Islamic art.

The naturally decorative nature of Arabic script, led to the use of calligraphic decorations, which usually involved repeating geometrical patterns that expressed ideals of order and nature’[4]

Her installation piece entitled ‘Carpet of Remembrance’ (2003) is a perfect example of her vast collaborative methods, as well as her willingness to challenge the norms.

Carpet of Remembrance:
Courtesy of The Artist and The Third Line
'Carpet of Remembrance' is a collection of a shoe maker’s last (the forms used to shape a shoe), which have been painted silver and are repeatedly covered in the old Sufi adage “I am the companion of the one who remembers me.” This was a highly controversial piece as it was sacrilege to write Sufi text on any kind of shoe – despite Huda writing on shoemakers last and not an actual shoe, this did cause a degree of contention.

Her pieces can be brave, honest and controversial in both the message they provide and the aesthetic image they project. She is unafraid to depict the controversial truth and attempts to instigate social change and create new truths.

Written By Kiran Sahib

[1] ‘city’ referring to Cairo. Mai Serhan, 2012, Jadaliyya article http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/7870/huda-lutfi_the-artist-and-the-historical-moment
[3] The Daily Egypt News, January 16 2011 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jOMBTdcmcnA

Interview: Bisan Abu-Eiseh


Bisan Abu Eiseh : Screenshot from video victory land 2008

A gentle soul with a creative mind, Bisan Abu-Eiseh was our first CAF Scholarship winner. He is now studying for his MA at the Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. CAF caught up with him to see how life has evolved for him and where he is planning to go next. Here are some summaries from our conversation.

How are you enjoying London?
I am enjoying London very much, I have been a visitor here (London) before and have always been fascinated by London; it is a city rich of resources, culture and art amongst many other things. Despite still enjoying everything the city has to give, It is only after living in London I realise the difficulties and the daily challenges it throws at you to cope with the city. I am learning to arrange my life to suit the fast pace.

Do you feel like your time in London has impacted your art in anyway?
I can’t say that after 6 weeks it has already changed, but lots of things are going on as the whole atmosphere is very motivating. Also, the fact that I come from a different culture and circumstances is beginning to impose a lot of comparison in my mind of the place I am coming from. Things are evolving and in terms of art it’s really very stimulating.
I am seeing lots of art in London more than in my country, but in my country there are more topics to  speak about, so combining these two things together is giving me an exciting feeling in my head; I hope I can translate them into something visually rich.

How did you find out about CAF?
While I was working on my degree show I very much taken with the idea that I wanted to do an MA.  I quickly realised there are no postgraduate degree programmes for art in my country and it became very important for me to find out how to carry on with my education. Also as I have been to London before and seen the art scene; I grew to like the atmosphere that accompanies it.
I started to ask about what kind of university and course would be good for me. My director (of his previous degree, which he completed in Ramallah), who is part Palestinian and part British was very helpful with helping me find a direction. Everybody was circulating the CAF Scholarship as there are not many opportunities for scholarships and I got my (information/knowledge of CAF) from my administrator. It seemed too far-fetched for me as it (the Scholarship) was open to everyone  all over the Middle East, but I just went for it and here I am!

So is the application process quite an intimidating one?
It was a very important time for me and I waited for the answer day by day. I had been accepted to Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design before I applied for the CAF Scholarship. If I didn't get the scholarship it would have been impossible for me to study here as I wouldn't have been able to afford it. This scholarship changed my life it covered all my tuition fee part of my living costs.

Have you got any advice for those applying?
It’s really not easy to answer this question. Usually motivation is happening through media (you are drawn in by what you see).  It is about confidence and willing to take the risk and challenge. If you want something you have to fight for it, you have to go for it. I really wanted it and there was no other way. If you want it you will do it, but you need to see it there in order to go for it.

What do you see yourself doing after your MA?
It really depends I believe that lots of things are going to happen to me in these 2 years. My thoughts are going to develop and expand. I may consider doing a PHD, it depends on the opportunity. It really depends on how my career will develop as an artist.

Would you like to stay in London?
I have to have a reason to stay in London and again it is dependent on where my career will take me. I feel that by living In London you are doing an MA in itself, It is a challenge and there is so much to learn!

What projects are you working on at the moment?
What I’m working on is very much connected with archives.  Basically, I had 2 experiences with archives one started 4 years ago in 2008. I started to research the houses demolished in Jerusalem. In 2008-2011, I started to convert my knowledge into a visual form, I started to collect objects from demolished houses and presented them. I presented them with captions about what the space is, the name of the owner, the number of people displaced and the date of demolition. This was all presented in the Art Blast Istanbul exhibition 2011. http://arted.org.au/art-blast-2011-network-pd/
Byatt Bytoot Playing House 2008-2011, Archive Piece 
Second Archive: Later I found a collection amongst my father’s belongings, a collection of letters and images from 1980-85, which were exchanged between my father and mum and other relatives, while my father was in prison for political reasons. I entered into a world that no longer exists for my generation; lots of things have changed such as my parents relationship was outside the circle of formality like marriage or engagement. When I compare that to today it was a big taboo. Also I came across lots of stories, like the story of my name; my father named me after a song, a song about the city of Bisan.
Because of this encounter (being able to connect with his parents past) I felt that I was born 3 years before I was born. This collection covers an era that wasn't covered with my history because as Palestinians we are not very good at taking care of our narrative, and I feel it is my purpose to bring in a strong narrative.
Why I feel nostalgic for something I didn't live through? This is why I have particular interest in this archive. I wanted to project an alternative archive in my context. I want to look at an archive as a way of analysis. Not as a history and not to document but to project and look at a better future. I want to evoke conversation and discussion as to where we should go.
I’m not looking for answers; I am looking to ask the right questions. Maybe we feel we have a strong sense of being defeated, it’s a fact that we are coming from countries of underdevelopment and it is taking a long time to develop and it seems people aren’t asking the right questions. Lots of people are expecting artists to act like profits but I’m a normal person and I want to speak out just like other artists and human beings.

Playing House 2008, Archive Piece
Do you come from quite an artistic family?
Yes! My mum is an artist in cooking! My father is a theatre actor, director writer. So I have received a lot of support from them.

What did you do your undergraduate studies in?
I did two undergraduate degrees; IT and Visual Contemporary Arts. When I went to study IT I didn’t know what IT was! I was curious and also I just thought it was a good idea to do a degree so I would get a stable job. Then I graduated and realised that I couldn’t do an office job. Ever since I was a kid I was looking for a way to express myself I tried music and theatre, then I decided to do diploma in graphic design. I then joined photography and drawing course, I then found the Ramallah Art Academy and after applying I managed to get a Scholarship to do a degree in Visual Contemporary Art. I went to the first lecture and it was about the history of art and before the lecture, art to me was just about painting and photography. The lecture made me realise that I have a strong passion for art, since then I have never looked back. After one week of learning what an installation was I made my own! It wasn’t good but it was mine and it was accepted- it felt good.

Is there any particular artist you like?
Joseph Beuys : because he went beyond the gallery and the norm notion of art. He went beyond activism in order to spread his ideas everywhere, revolutionary ideas, through his ideas of how to conduct his life fascinate me. He never disconnected himself from the art work, and he never disconnected his art from his life: art and his life were interconnected.
(Example)He occupied Dusseldorf Academy in Germany and saw this as art. The picture (that was taken) of him being arrested, he decided to frame and sign it and put it in a gallery.

What are your views on censorship for political reasons?
My art is a reflection of my reality. I don’t think its right to avoid being political because of possible censorship- I do what I think about.
Those artists that cross censorship lines didn’t’ do it to be named ‘rebels’ they were just honest. This is a way of revolution. If we look at the example of Picasso, he suffered a lot from the war and his life was impacted by other socio-political events. He found through art who could express his true feelings, art and creativity was his outlet. This is something I really believe in, honesty as an artist.

How did you feel when you were awarded the scholarship?
I got paralysed! I needed water and I couldn’t stand. It made a dream come true to be here and carry on my education. As I said before ‘If I didn’t get the scholarship it would be impossible for me to study here because I can't afford the expenses, it would have been very difficult.  I have to say that this scholarship changed my life…’
Please tell us what you think about scholarships in general?
We are from countries of underdevelopment and if we don’t take care of our education then we will never make a change. So it’s very important to take care and offer opportunities for education to develop lots of youth who are seeking for better education and who will be able to make a change in their societies. Also I believe that education isn’t for the elite, and that’s why it’s very important for people who can’t afford studying in a country like England to be funded.

CAF Postcard

CAF can be found on Facebook and Twitter. If you wish to email us regarding the scholarships please send all messages to info@caspianartsfoundation.com

CAF Panel Discussion



October was an exciting time for CAF as we ventured across borders to take part in this years much acclaimed Christie's Fine Art auction in Dubai. Support for CAF was unprecedented as we had a generous number of donated pieces from various up and coming artists; all works were sold raising a relatively substantial amount for our annual scholarship budget. 

A considerate mention of CAF was made in the Post Sale Press Release:

'This evening we are delighted to have added another $370,000, which will support two further charities: Caspian Art Foundation, which aims to help young students from the region to complete their postgraduate studies at the University of the Arts London'

Read the official press release on our blog, below. 

Christie's held the event at Dubai's International Financial Center and the auction spanned two days; Part I was held on the 23rd October and the second part followed on the proceeding day. CAFs donated lots were all sold on the latter day which which proved to be the more successful day of the two; Part II realised an impressive $2,260,250 and the top lot sold for $170,500.

The top lot was the aesthetically pleasing, 1962 Louay Kayyali painting named the 'The Strange Lady Arlette Arhoury'. To hear Hala Khayat - a specialist in modern and contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art - discuss the painting, click on the following link:

The auction was indeed a platform for new and upcoming Middle Eastern Artists; Part II saw 16 artists who had never been represented at auction before, sell within or above their highest estimates. 

New Strokes: The Rise of Middle Eastern and North African Art


‘Art is one of the few reliable loudspeakers that can help one understand what exactly has taken place in a region where memory is constantly interrupted and distorted by chronic violence’ (Arie Amaya Akermans:2012:Re-Orient) (1)

It is a given to say that the political tensions that have surrounded the Middle East and North Africa, and the subsequent media exposure of such events to western societies have steered the world’s attention to parts of the region.

The media spotlight has encouraged the recognition of art within the region as well as provided a platform for those artists to express themselves and be heard without the constraints of censorship. Evocative articles such as: ‘Think Middle East Politics Are Hot? Try Middle Eastern Art’[2] and ‘Art in the Middle East: Foment of the Moment’ [3] to name but a few, have been an important factor in putting Middle Eastern Art ‘on the map’. This publicity has also provided support and a sense of solidarity amongst the entire art community; as artists come together, collaborate and express themselves on both a national and international stage. 

Their voices aren't just limited to making a statement or documenting events. There is a keen agenda amongst some artists to attempt to evoke thought amongst civil society. Reminding them that the ‘fight’ isn't over, and that as a society they have a civil responsibility to ensure that they are part of building a Middle East that is authentic to them. 

Abdulnasser Gharems: Capitol Dome
One such artist is the leading Saudi artist Abdulnasser Gharem, known to many as a pioneer in conceptual art. His contribution to the political discussion is his miniature version of the US Capitol Dome which was recently part of the ‘#COMETOGETHER’ exhibition in London’s Brick Lane. The Dome’s exterior is an exact copy of the original Dome; however the interior has been designed to resemble a Mosque. The piece is representative of the current situation the countries involved with the Arab Spring now face, as their battle deepens and their search for a political structure continues. Gharem notes a lot of attention is being paid to the US model of democracy; as the history of ‘no democracy’[4] within these countries creates a situation of unease and confusion with regard to the direction that should be followed.  However he is keen to assert and remind civil society that the Middle East isn’t the US and they have their own destiny to follow. He urges the Middle Eastern community to ‘talk’, and explains his work as a platform for conversation, thought and new perspective. 

Theatrical directors/writers as well as visual artists within the MENA[5] region have also experienced a revival, and their social and political relevance has been re-discovered. Ibraaz’s Cleo Jay notes that:

‘Egyptian artist Hanaa Abdel Fattah called for a revolution in Egyptian theatre in a March 2011 interview for Ahram Online, noting that 'Prior to the 25 January Revolution, Egyptian theatre productions were totally isolated and distanced from the social and political situation in the country. Theatre did not hear the social voices calling for democracy.’[6]

The play L’isoloir (The Voting Booth) directed by Taoufik Jebali, is a play about taking the next steps to democracy after the fall of Ben Ali in Tunisia. It represents the new challenges faced by Tunisians as they elect a new government. Writers such as Kamel Bouaouina (2012) and Jay Cleo (2012) note that the play invites thought and questions within the audience, and sends out a similar message as that of Gharem’s  Capitol Dome.

The revolution in politics has offset a revolution in art, and there is a clear message of solidarity and empowerment.  The ‘movement’ has not only set to bring together the art genres and the art community, but the entire Middle Eastern community on a wider level.

In essence these artists are working as mediators within society; working to empower civil society and encourage them to be proactive within the current situation and essentially be that society that not only pioneered a revolution, but made it work.

Written By Kiran Sahib: CAF Writer/Editor

(1)Arie Amaya-Akkermans on October 31, 2012, http://www.reorientmag.com/2012/10/impossible-possibilities/ 
Forbes Online Magazine, Contributor: Abigail. R. Esman,18/4/2012 http://www.forbes.com/sites/abigailesman/2012/04/18/think-middle-east-politics-are-hot-try-middle-eastern-art/
The Economist Online Magazine, 24/05/2012  http://www.economist.com/node/18438073
 Abdul Nasser Gharem, October 2012 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DO9T_jCOkis
 Middle East and North Africa
STAGING THE TRANSITION IN NORTH AFRICA: Theatre As a Tool of Empowerment, Ibraaz Online Magazine, Cleo Jay, 2/11/2012

The London MENA Film Festival 2012 - Opening Night


The London MENA Film Festival kicked off on the 26th October at the Tricycle theater,  with the screening of ‘How Big is Your Love’, directed by the very talented Fatma Zohra Zamoum. It is a touching tale about a young boy, Adel who is sent to stay with his grandparents Rachid and Kadidja- played by Nordine Alane and Nadjia Debahi- Laraaf- as his parents contemplate their marriage. Adel’s life becomes very much a part of his grandparents and together they explore the simple pleasure in life that is unconditional love.

Adel is played by the exceptionally gifted young actor, Racim Zennadi, whom Zamoum couldn’t give enough praise to at the Q&A that followed the screening. His raw innocence gave the film a certain depth and allowed for the audience to connect with the plight of his situation.  

The film is set in contemporary Lounès, Algeria and is adamant on representing an image of North Africa that is far from the popular images that are currently coming out from the region. Bold colours, rustic foods, familiar images of cigars and coffee, and images of a lit up Lounes from a balcony view, together create a sense of normality and home. Fatma commented that she was tired of the war and terrorism represented in Algerian cinema and wanted to create something more wholesome. She was determined to cater for an important part of society that has usually been ignored in Algerian cinema.‘I made this film because children and the aged are absent in North African Cinema’ she commented with an interview with FilmFestival.com.

Preceding the film were three short films ‘Granny Flag’, ‘The Secret Room’ and ‘Here’, which all had clear revolutionary themes, displaying the angst felt about the Arab Spring amongst so many. They each provide an individual angle and provide much impact in their 4 minutes.

All in all the London MENA Film Festival picked a great line-up to start of their week -long festival, which most definitely warmed the chill of the autumn evening.

By Kiran Sahib : Writer/Editor for CAF 

The Official Christie's Press Release



Christie’s concluded its 13th sales season in the region realising a combined total of $5,900,350/AED21,665,204 and establishing 29 new world auction records for Middle Eastern artists. Tonight’s Part II sale followed the success of last night’s auction and realised $2,260,250 /AED8,295,117, selling 88% by value. In a busy and animated room, this evening’s sale offered works by 16 artists who had never before been represented at auction, all of which sold within or above their high estimate.
Top lot of the evening was lot 106 Louay Kayyali’s The strange Lady Arlette Anhoury, painted in 1962, realising $170,500 /AED625,735 after a fierce bidding battle between room and telephone.
Over the past six years Christie’s in the Middle East has supported a number of charities by offering works of art at auction, raising a combined total of $20 million. This evening we are delighted to have added another $370,000, which will support two further charities: Caspian Art Foundation, which aims to help young students from the region to complete their postgraduate studies at the University of the Arts London; and The Prince’s School of Traditional Arts which was founded in 2004 by HRH The Prince of Wales, and which teaches the practical skills of the traditional arts.  
The two lots offered from the private collection of Robert Douaihy to fund the building of the Saliba Douaihy’s gravestone in Ehden, Lebanon raised $106,000 against a low pre-sale estimate of $40,000.
“The October 2012 sales season has demonstrated again the depth of this market and the continuously growing interest in the arts. With 41 young artists represented for the first time at auction in 2012, and with most of them being sought after in the auction room, we continue to lead in the region by offering the most exciting sales platform with the best international reach. We would like to express our thanks to the Islamic Arts Museum in Malaysia, the Farjam Collection, HRH Princess Wijdan M. Al-Hashemi of Jordan and the galleries, all of whom donated works to support the two charities tonight. We look forward to the next sales at Christie’s Dubai, which will be held on 16 and 17 April 2013,” commented Hala Khayat, Specialist of Middle Eastern Art.

APRIL 2012
91% for Part I
93% for Part II
96% for Part I
88% for Part II
85% for Part I
88% for Part II
86% for Part I
80% for Part II
4 for Part I
18 for Part II
5 for Part I
24 for Part II
11 for Part I
12 for Part II
13 for Part I
14 for Part II
Mahmoud Saïd, Marsa Matrouh
Selling for $602,500
Mahmoud Saïd, Pêcheurs à Rosette, selling for $818,500

About Christie’s
Christie’s, the world's leading art business, had global auction and private sales in 2011 that totaled £3.6 billion/$5.7 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and expertise, as well as international glamour. Founded in 1766 by James Christie, Christie's has since conducted the greatest and most celebrated auctions through the centuries providing a popular showcase for the unique and the beautiful. Christie’s offers over 450 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War and Contemporary, Impressionist and Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery. Private sales totaled £502 million / $808.6m in 2011, an increase of 44% on the previous year.

Christie’s has a global presence with 53 offices in 32 countries and 10 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zürich, and Hong Kong. More recently, Christie’s has led the market with expanded initiatives in growth markets such as Russia, China, India and the United Arab Emirates, with successful sales and exhibitions in Beijing, Mumbai and Dubai.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and do not reflect costs, financing fees or application of buyer’s or seller’s credits.

Complete catalogue available online at www.christies.com or via Christie’s Mobile, iPhone, iPad and Android apps.




Click on the image above to view the online magazine (Flash Animation)

Six lots donated by 7 artists and their galleries will be sold to benefit Caspian Arts Foundation. These will be auctioned off on October 24th at Christie's Modern & Contemporary Arab, Iranian & Turkish art sale in Dubai. 

For any information on these pieces send an email to events@caspianartsfoundation.com

This is the first time these artists' works will be sold at an international auction. Funds raised will go to benefit Caspian Arts Foundation and the scholarships that will be awarded in 2013. 

AYAD ALKHADI  At The Beginning
Acrylic, pen, charcoal and pencil on canvas
72 x72in. (183 x183cm.)
Executed in 2012

Alkadhi escaped Iraq in 1994 and settled in California but his work is dominated by the effect of the war described by the artist as “the emotional arc by which one compares all other experiences….”. Here the contrasting bright and dark colours and the distorted and monstrous shapes reflect the artist’s internal struggle as he relives the atrocities witnessed in his homeland.

SHOJA AZARI & SHAHRAM KARIMI   Spring  (from the Silence series)
Arcylic on canvas with video projection
50 x 89in. (127 x 226 cm)
Executed in 2007-2008, this work is number one from an edition of three

From the Silence series, this is one of four video paintings representing the seasons – a collaboration between these two lifelong artist friends. Abstract views of a lake are depicted here with subtle movements of wind, water and rain suggested by the projection of a mirror image onto the painted canvas, bringing the flat surface to life.

Signed and dated 'Shirazeh Houshiary' 2007 (on the reverse) 
Mixed media 
15 ¾ x 15 ¾ in. (40 x 40 cm) 
Executed in 2007

The main characteristic of Houshiary’s much sought-after paintings and drawings are that they are intentionally barely visible - emerging from and melting into the black or white backgrounds. The artist explains that her work ‘comes and goes: sometimes you see it, sometimes you don’t. The universe is like that – everything is in a state of flux’. She acknowledges the influence of Sufism and 13th century Persian mystic poetry in her work.

HADIEH SHAFIE   11580 Pages (detail)
Acrylic, ink and paper with printed and hand-written Farsi
30 x 30 x 3 ½ in. (76.2 x 76.2 x 9 cm)
Executed in 2012

In this work, individual strips of paper marked with the word eshghe, (love or passion), have been delicately rolled to create miniature scrolls. Shafie’s work is inspired by the Sufist meditative prayer of the heart known as ‘dikhr’, where a single word is repeated. With only one work ever offered by the artist at auction, Shafie’s works are highly sought-after.

Signed and dated 'ALI BANISADR 12' (lower right)
Signed and dated 'Ali Banisadr 2012 (on the reverse)
Oil on linen
30 x 36in. (76.2 x 91.4 cm)
Executed in 2012

Through the use of a bright palette and large brushstrokes, the artist evokes his chaotic memories of displacement and war. Originally from Tehran, a young Banisadr left the country with his family to settle in the United States where he now lives and works. He captures the brutality of the war in this broken and fragmented composition. Banisadr’s works have never been auctioned before, except for charity and, as he produces very few works, his works are rare.

Signed and dated 'Pjinchi 2009' (lower right)
Waxed charcoal and pencil on Rice paper
18 x 18in. (45.7 x  45.7 cm)
Executed in 2009

“What would a prayer look like if you were asked to draw it? I visualise the spiritual fulfilment of prayers and then translate that into aesthetic creations to see whether they relay what prayer could mean.” (Pouran Jinchi). Jinchi’s work is deeply rooted in her Persian to produce harmonious abstract compositions where the works become platforms for the act of prayer.

Q&A with Alyâa Kamel | Published Under Caspian Arts Foundation | August 8th, 2012

The Oriental Dream

After a week of sharing her wonderfully colourful and dynamic drawings and paintings with Caspian Arts Foundation, Alyâa Kamel speaks with us about her life as an artist and how her time in Egypt during its revolution in 2011, gave birth to her latest exhibition which is on show at the Tafkaj Gallery in Geneva. Currently working on her upcoming exhibit in Cairo, Alyâa shares her views on an artist's ability to shed light on humanity and its place in society, where otherwise it would be obscured or not fully accepted and she feels this ability to respond to the ongoing change within the region, through her work. 

This is something that is setting the tone for Middle Eastern contemporary art today: pushing the boundaries and  barriers that co-exist within societies, overcoming taboos and basically driving the region to its next level which is connecting to a more global stage, connecting to the West and widening our language and also our vision. 

NM: Thank you for the interview Alyâa. After we spoke, I visited your website and watched a clip where you mentioned that you don’t paint or create your work through any rational or logical process. What I am assuming is that you paint from your emotion and inspirations. Is this true each time?
AK: Yes it is true. My Art is a pure emotional process that flirts with thoughts, to give birth to a painting or a drawing.

NM: What motivates you before you go and start a new series of works?
AK: My motivation is Life itself and how it vibrates in me.

In the Metallic Mist

 NM: Do you ever sit in front of a blank canvas without having any idea of what is about to come?
AK: Yes it has happened several times. Usually it means I have to do something else.

NM: I’m interested in your “social red carpet” works. When we spoke, you briefly mentioned the inspiration coming from the revolution in Egypt, as you were there when it happened. What were your impressions before putting paint onto canvas and was it an immediate connection?
AK: Humanity at its full power that was put into the brush, and then into the colour.  An unbreakable link between all human beings

The Red Social Carpet (drawing)

NM: It really shows the connection between arts and political events taking place and how artists truly play a role. Artists really put themselves on the line!
AK: An idea or a feeling expressed in all its nakedness is always risky in a society that makes sure that all stays in a fuzzy shadow. An artist transforms darkness into light. A lot of people will try to find the switch!

NM: Do you look at art as a tool to bring about change and the social norm, especially in a region that is undergoing conflict and change?
AK: Art is a way to unleash inner emotions into the world. First the beauty, second an understanding and finally the beginning of a series of thoughts that will lead to a strong desire of change.

NM: You were studying for some time in London, how did you find living in such a creative and dynamic city?
AK: Living in London and being in an art environment was a great opening of the mind and soul.  It gave me a lesson in freedom and also in evolution.

Dancing Lines

NM: Do you have any message of hope to aspiring artists who are living in the Middle East and who would really benefit from living abroad and align their hopes and dreams with reality?
AK: The Middle east has a lot to learn from other countries and other countries have a lot to learn from the Middle East! You have the chance to bring these worlds together, bringing a wider knowledge, an extra definition to a multicultural world that needs to move forward.

NM: It relates to this case of artists struggling to find their voice in most parts of the region. Do you feel a greater responsibility to your work as you live outside and enjoy the freedom that you can use in your work?
AK: As an artist and a human being I feel responsible.       

NM: Do you ever use any other mediums in your art?
AK: I use acrylic, watercolor, ink, sands, crystals….
NM: Can you share with us one of your personal favourites and tell us why you love it?
AK: The mural that is exhibited in the gallery Tafkaj. The people waiting for the changes to take place, they are slightly moving (so there is visual movement) ... and the change of the political situation; despair leading to hope.

The Mural

NM:What are you currently working on?
AK: I am working on several projects but getting ready for my Exhibition in Cairo.

To visit Alyaa Kamel's website click here: site