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  • Writer's pictureMajid Alhusseini

10 Arab Artists Making Waves Globally: Must-Follows for 2024

Embark on a journey through the rich tapestry of Arab artistic expression as we unveil the dynamic creations of 10 visionary artists who have garnered international acclaim. From the bustling streets of Paris to the vibrant neighborhoods of Brooklyn, these Arab creators draw inspiration from their cultural heritage, infusing their works with passion, innovation, and a profound sense of identity. Join us as we delve into the captivating narratives, diverse perspectives, and groundbreaking talents that are taking the voice of the Arab world to the global art scene in 2024 and beyond.

Ahmed Bouzeraa

Ahmed Bouzeraa, known by his artist name "Follow med," was born in 1972 in the picturesque village of Tabala, nestled among the fertile mountains abundant with olive trees in Northeast Algeria. Growing up, Ahmed was drawn to forms of expression in an environment where such outlets were scarce. In 1974, his family relocated to Reims, France, where he encountered the enchanting world of mobile libraries and comic strips, opening doors to new realms of imagination.

It was during a summer visit to Algeria in 1984 that Ahmed delved into The Quranic Letter's universe, igniting his artistic journey into a mystical realm. Self-taught and independent from established artistic movements, his inspiration springs from the Koranic Text and the universe's grandeur. Themes like human emotions, the cosmos' vastness, nature's harmony, and the vibrant seabed fuel his creativity, shaping his identity as a contemporary artist.

Today, Ahmed Bouzeraa stands as a unique figure in the art world, describing himself as a "collector of emotions" and an "explorer of the invisible." His work, deeply rooted in The Koranic Letter's essence yet interpreted through universal symbols, showcases an innovative approach that speaks volumes about his artistic prowess and vision.

Tammam Azzam

Tammam Azzam, born in Damascus and now based in Berlin, is an artist represented by the Kornfeld gallery. Graduating from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Damascus in 2001, Azzam's journey was influenced by workshops led by influential painters, notably the late German Syrian artist Marwan. Initially working in mixed media, Azzam later turned to expressing the tragedy of his homeland's destroyed cityscape.

A highlight in Azzam's career came with his Syrian Museum series in 2013, which juxtaposed photos of destroyed buildings with iconic European master paintings. This innovative approach, using graphic design, showcased destruction while evoking themes of loss and resilience. Azzam's exploration of techniques like paper collage alongside paintings further emphasizes the remnants of conflict and the imperative to rebuild.

His works have been exhibited internationally, including at venues like Ayyam Gallery in Dubai, Art Dubai, Untitled Miami, and Haines Gallery San Francisco. Azzam's contributions to contemporary art are celebrated, with his works housed in renowned institutions like the Barjeel Art Foundation and the Atassi Foundation.

Nourine Hammad

Nourine Hammad, an Egyptian hyperrealist artist currently based in London, is renowned for her ability to blur the lines between reality and art through her meticulous drawings. With a profound passion for conceptual art, Nourine's creations captivate viewers, drawing them into a hyper realistic realm where every detail is meticulously crafted.

Utilizing various mediums including pencils and pastels, Nourine is dedicated to challenging expectations and sparking contemplation through her artwork. Each piece not only captures the essence of its subject matter but also tells a compelling story, inviting viewers to delve deeper into its meaning.

Nourine's work has been showcased across the UK and Europe, reflecting her commitment to exploration and innovation in the realm of hyperrealism. As a dedicated artist, she continues to push the boundaries of artistic expression, constantly seeking new ideas and concepts to inspire her creations.

Noha Bahr

Noha Bahr, an illustrator and visual artist born in Egypt, is recognized for her diverse sketch work, encompassing portraits, food, cartoon characters, and more. With an Instagram following exceeding 40,000, she shares her captivating artwork in both color and black and white. Renowned for her distinctive style and compelling illustrations, Noha has amassed a considerable following both locally and internationally. Her artwork resonates deeply with audiences, showcasing her exceptional talent and dedication to her craft. Noha's success serves as a testament to her remarkable skill and perseverance.

Abdulnasser Gharem

Abdulnasser Gharem is a prominent figure in Saudi Arabian contemporary art and holds the unique distinction of being a lieutenant in the Saudi Arabian army. His multifaceted body of work spans photography, video, performance, and sculpture, delving into the intricacies of life in Saudi Arabia. Gharem's art often serves as a social critique, utilizing the streets as his canvas to engage with the community and foster collaboration. As a co-founder of the nonprofit organization Edge of Arabia, he has been instrumental in promoting arts education and providing a global platform for contemporary Saudi artists.

Gharem made history in 2011 when his installation "Message"/"Messenger" fetched a world record price at auction in Dubai, establishing him as the highest-selling living Gulf artist. His innovative approach to art and unwavering commitment to societal engagement have solidified his position as a trailblazer in the Saudi Arabian art scene.

Shurooq Amin

Shurooq Amin stands as a trailblazing figure in the art world, boasting a multidisciplinary career spanning three decades and marked by numerous accolades. With a PhD in Ekphrasis, she pioneers socio-political "artivism" in the region, challenging stereotypes and advocating for positive societal change. Notably, Amin made history as the first Kuwaiti female artist to exhibit at the prestigious Venice Biennale and to be auctioned at Christie's, breaking barriers for Arab female artists in her country.

Amin's groundbreaking work transcends boundaries, delving into cultural dialogues to provoke thought and ignite change. In 2021, she made her mark in the world of NFT art, becoming the first Kuwaiti artist to do so and subsequently supporting other women in finding their voices in Web3. As a mother of four, Amin defies societal norms and confronts taboo topics head-on, challenging perceptions of Arab Muslim women and redefining the role of women in their 50s. Her relentless pursuit of artistic expression serves as a testament to her unwavering determination and commitment to pushing the boundaries of art and society.

Ahmed Emad Eldin

Ahmed Emad Eldin is a renowned digital artist and designer, famous for his work on Pink Floyd's "The Endless River" album cover. Recognized globally by Adobe, he has created over 50 key art pieces for award-winning films, along with commercial campaigns and album covers. His art has been exhibited worldwide, including at prestigious venues like the Doge's Palace in Genoa and The Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Eldin's achievements include appearances at major events such as the Academy Awards and Cannes Festival, as well as being featured in an Adobe Photoshop commercial. He serves as the official Wacom Arabic Ambassador for the Middle East and Africa and has received accolades such as the Oniros Film Awards and a Platinum Award from BPI.

Huda Beydoun

Huda Beydoun embarked on her artistic journey in 2010, venturing into painting, mixed media, and photography. Over the years, her talent garnered both local and international acclaim. In 2017, Beydoun moved to Paris to explore fashion photography under Paolo Roversi and Dominique Issermann's tutelage. Now based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, she delves into freelance art direction and fashion photography, infusing her work with emotion and creativity.

Beydoun's art has graced prestigious international platforms such as Dismaland by BANKSY and the 2013 Venice Biennale's RHIZOMA exhibit. Locally, her captivating pieces have been showcased in exhibitions at renowned galleries like Ayyam, Athr, and Hafez Galleries. Characterized by poignant ambiguity, her art invites viewers to explore emotions and perceptions deeply. Each piece subtly intertwines introspective elements, reflecting the intricate complexities of the human psyche and resonating with those attuned to life's subtle nuances of light and shadow.

Yasmine Nasser Diaz

Yasmine Nasser Diaz is a visual artist renowned for her exploration of cultural identity within the domestic sphere. Through nostalgic recreations of home and familial memories, she navigates the intersection of tradition and technological advancement, infusing her work with powerful feminist and social commentary. Diaz employs various media, including collage, fiber etching, video, and immersive installation, to delve into the complexities of third-culture identity, often examining the tensions between the individual and collective experiences.

Diaz's artwork has been showcased at prestigious institutions such as the Getty Center, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Station Beirut in Lebanon, and the Poetry Project Space in Berlin. Her pieces are held in esteemed collections including LACMA, the Arab American National Museum, and UCLA.

Recognized for her artistic contributions, Diaz has received accolades such as the Harpo Visual Artists Grant, the California Community Foundation Visual Artist Fellowship, and the Efroymson Visiting Artist Residency at the University of Michigan. Based in Los Angeles, she is represented by Ochi Gallery.

Ahmed Mater

Ahmed Mater, a physician turned artist born in 1979 in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, has emerged as a leading cultural voice documenting and examining the complexities of contemporary Saudi Arabia. Through his multidisciplinary practice encompassing photography, film, sculpture, and performance, Mater navigates the historical, geographical, and topical breadth of the Kingdom, uncovering unofficial histories and imagining possible prognoses for a society undergoing profound religious, social, economic, and political transformations.

As a co-founder of the Edge of Arabia collective and the founder director of Misk Art Institute, Mater has played a pivotal role in connecting Saudi artists with international audiences. He made history as the first Saudi artist to hold a solo exhibition in the United States, followed by major exhibitions at venues like the Brooklyn Museum. Mater's socially engaged practice reflects his commitment to exploring the complexities of contemporary Saudi society and its implications for the broader world.

In 2016, Mater became the first Saudi artist to hold a solo exhibition in the United States with ‘Symbolic Cities: The Work of Ahmed Mater’ at the Smithsonian Institution’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Washington DC. Since, he has had a major solo exhibition at Brooklyn Museum, New York (2019). He has also had solo exhibitions at King Abdullah Economic City, Saudi Arabia (2018) and many more.

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