Mehdi Moutashar And Marina Tabassum Win Jameel Prize 5
By Piers Masterson
On June 27th, the fifth edition of the Jameel Prize was awarded to French-Iraqi artist Mehdi Moutashar and Bangladeshi architect Marina Tabassum at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London, marking the first time the prize has been given to joint winners. The international art prize is awarded biannually to artists and designers inspired by Islamic visual culture, and was founded by the V&A in partnership with Art Jameel, a non-profit arts foundation promoting art from the Middle East. The GBP 25,000 award will be shared between the two awardees.
This year’s panel of judges was headed by V&A director Tristram Hunt, and included Salah Hassan, professor and director of the Institute for Comparative Modernities at Cornell University; design historian Tanya Harrod; November Paynter, director of programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Toronto; and the artist Ghulam Mohammad, the recipient of Jameel Prize 4.
Architecture and design practices were given an emphasis by the fifth edition of the Jameel Prize, with a shortlist comprising Iranian artist Kamrooz Aram; Iraqi-born painter Hayv Kahraman; Bahraini fashion designer Hala Kaiksow; Jordan-based graphic designer and architect duo Naqsh Collective; Moroccan multimedia artist Younes Rahmoun; and Pakistani painter Wardha Shabbir, in addition to the two winners.
Marina Tabassum was recognized for her plan for a mosque and community space in her native Dhaka, which elevates the use of local bricks and a constrained design to create a space articulated by points of natural light. Tabassum is the first architect to be shortlisted for and awarded the Jameel Prize.
Arles-based Mehdi Moutashar, who is known for abstract works incorporating the geometry of Islamic visual tradition and Arabic calligraphy, was awarded for his work Deux plis à 120° (2012), made of two metal plates folded at 120 degrees.
This work made an intriguing pairing with the installation by Kamrooz Aram shown next to it at the V&A; both artists point to the relationships between Islamic Art and Modernist abstraction, with Aram further interrogating the institutional frameworks that attach different values to each. The impressive paintings by Hayv Kahramen on display also present the complexities of combining different styles and traditions, while giving insight to her own experience as part of the Iraqi diaspora.
Hala Kaiksow uses elements of national dress in her exhibited design for a Japan-influenced jumpsuit based on the Saudi Thobe al Nashal. Naqsh Collective reference regional identities by using elements of embroidery from Jordan as the basis of Shawl (2015), an elaborate screen made from incised walnut wood from Palestine.
Pakistani miniaturist Wardha Shabbir made a site-specific mural that extends her intense paintings of bushes to create a maze-like design, denoting an interest in the viewer’s whole sensory experience of the installation that is as central to the artist’s practice as the intricate details in the painting. Younes Rahmoun’s installation uses hats sourced from his hometown in Morocco in an arrangement illustrating Sufi mysticism that, with careful lighting, resembles nomadic tents in the desert when viewed from above.
Previous winners of the Jameel Prize include the aforementioned Ghulam Mohammad, who works with paper-cutting and collage, as well as Turkish sisters Ece and Ayşe Ege, founders and designers of the fashion label Dice Kayek, who won for their garment designs evoking Istanbul’s architectural and artistic heritage.
The works of the winners and the other shortlisted artists are currently on show at the V&A until November 25, before traveling worldwide, with stops including the Jameel Arts Center in Dubai from early to mid-2019.
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