Pakistani-American, Houston-based artist Fahim Somani creates expressionistic, calligraphy-inflected compositions which are not only exquisite formal experiments full of delightful painterly flourishes, but aesthetic bridges between two cultures. While drawing on the text of the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, Somani incorporates elements that evoke Minimalism, Abstract Expressionism, and other currents in post-war American art. The artist achieves this marriage of visual cues from Islamic and American art with innate talent, producing powerful and enigmatic images full of brilliant brushstrokes and vibrant textures.
Other Arab bronzes with inscriptions in Arabic and Latin conjure memories of places where East and West met.
A ewer from Arab Spain in the shape of a peacock carries an Arabic signature identifying it as “the work of the Christian King’s slave.” Underneath, an inscription in Roman capitals proclaims “Opus Salomonis Erat” naming the artist, probably called Sulayman, the Arabic form of the biblical name.
Now the museum is again risking the public’s wrath as it introduces the most radical architectural intervention since the pyramid in 1989. Designed to house new galleries for Islamic art, it consists of ground- and lower-ground-level interior spaces topped by a golden, undulating roof that seems to float within the neo-Classical Visconti Courtyard in the middle of the Louvre’s south wing, right below the museum’s most popular galleries, where the Mona Lisa and Veronese’s “Wedding Feast of Cana” are hung.
What do Bruce Springsteen, Mahalia Jackson, and John Coltrane all have in common? Well according to Dr. Hussein Rashid of Hofstra University each bear witness to the Islamic Contribution to American Music. This was the title of his lecture at my law school alma mater, Southern Methodist University.
This exhibition features seven works by three generations of Iranian artists—Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (b. 1924), Parviz Tanavoli (b. 1937), Y.Z. Kami (b. 1956), Shirin Neshat (b. 1957), Afruz Amighi (b. 1974), and Ali Banisadr (b. 1976)—four of whom live and work in the United States, while two continue to work in Iran. Despite their diverse modes of expression, these artworks reflect an intrinsic connection with Iran and address issues of identity, political and social concerns, gender, nostalgia, and cultural pride.
Many young Iranian artists admit to a passion for comic books from the United States and Europe. They can be purchased in Tehran, though they are expensive and often covered with the censors’ black ink. But local artists say they are trying to stamp their work with an Iranian identity.
Except for the religious headgear, the shoot could have been for any glossy fashion magazine. But Ala — called the “Vogue of the veiled” in the Turkish news media — is no conventional publication. In an unlikely fusion of conservative Muslim values and high fashion, it unabashedly appeals to the pious head-scarf-wearing working woman, who may covet a Louis Vuitton purse but has no use for the revealing clothing that pervades traditional fashion magazines.
I’ve blogged on occasion about Legos. You might remember me mentioning The Brick Testament,which retells a number of famous (and in some cases shocking) stories from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament. Well, I appear to be the last person in the Islamophere to notice the wonderful blog Teaching Kids the Holy Quran, which aims to do the same for the Quran, but with some innovative twists.
UPF is proud to present its latest documentary film, Islamic Art: Mirror of the Invisible World. This new ninety-minute film takes audiences on an epic journey across nine countries and over 1,400 years of history. It explores themes such as the Word, Space, Ornament, Color and Water and presents the stories behind many great masterworks of Islamic Art and Architecture.