The Middle East is experiencing the rise of a new age of graphic expression. Shamma Buhazza (UAE), Hey Porter!(Jordan), Monna Jabali (Palestine), and Zeid Jaouni (UAE) are all graphic artists whose works have, until now, largely lived online. They have been brought together and given a platform in an exhibition to focus on the contemporary poster as artform. Through experimental Arabic typeface, abstract lettering, and de-rooted symbols and references, these works are representative of undercurrents at play in the region: they are playful, emotionally communicative, and through their appropriation of visual language in its many forms, these artists are steadily carving out an open space for limitless expression at the intersection between art and graphic design. Conceived in collaboration with creative director and writer Chantal Brocca, this exhibition is free and open to the public from July 1 to August 1, 2021 at The Summer Garden of ICD Brookfield Place, located in the Dubai International Financial Centre.
As forms of public art and message conveyors to audiences of all sizes – from mass marketing to coded, nuanced systems of messaging – the artists of this exhibition acknowledge the political, historical, and social meanings of the medium while also channelling the free creative expression new digital platforms and graphic tools allow.
A liberated experimentation is expressed by these artists and the community they represent, allowing for open interpretation by the viewer. Without the clear limits of defined place, intention, and message, these artists invite viewers to find and reflect on our particular place and purpose, bringing new interpretations and our own cultural and geographic specificity. There is a fearless creative whirlpool of assemblages, forms, and color that render Arabic calligraphy art as anything but traditional - a creative and powerful rejection of static text as merely functional. As one artist puts it, “There is no right way.”
The works included in this exhibition collectively signal more than an aesthetic or surface shift. At the heart of their practices, these Middle Eastern artists are pioneering a digitally-informed platform of shared resources and design knowledge, picking apart the traditional in favor of open interpretation, free-form associations, and play unbound by any one culture or geography and open to all.