Expressing Islam through design

A new exhibition opens at the V&A this week, celebrating Islamic design, craft and art.

  Mounir Fatmi, Modern Times: A History of the Machine (Detail) 2010–12, (Video)

Source: Courtesy of the artist and Shoshana Wayne Gallery, Photo: Mounir Fatmi

Mounir Fatmi, Modern Times: A History of the Machine (Detail) 2010–12, (Video)

The exhibition follows the announcement of the winner of the Jameel Prize, which is awarded every two years and aims to, ‘encourage artists globally to continue exploring the roots of Islam and the role of its traditions in the world today expressed through art’, according to the V&A.

The show features 20 pieces of work that made it onto the shortlist for the £25, 000 prize.

Dice Kayek, Caftan 2009, (Lame broacade)

Source: Courtesy of Dice Kayek Archive, Istanbul Contrast Collection, Photo: Dice Kayek Archive

Dice Kayek, Caftan 2009, (Lame broacade)

There were more than 270 submissions from countries across the globe. This huge selection of work was then whittled down to just ten artists by a panel of judges headed by V&A director Martin Roth.

    Nada Debs, Concrete Carpet (Detail) 2010, (Concrete, mother-of-pearl, stainless steel)

Source: Courtesy of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Photo: Marino Solokhov

Nada Debs, Concrete Carpet (Detail) 2010, (Concrete, mother-of-pearl, stainless steel)

This year’s shortlist features work from product designer Nada Debs. Her Concrete Carpet submission features Arabic fonts painstakingly chiseled into lightweight concrete and then finished with mother of pearl.

  Nasser Al Salem, Kul 2012, (Paint on paper)

Source: Courtesy of the artist and Athr Gallery, Photo: Khalid Bin Afif

Nasser Al Salem, Kul 2012, (Paint on paper)

Saudi Arabian artist Nasser Al Salem’s work similarly experiments with the momentous power of the written word. His large-scale calligraphy pieces explore new forms of meaning within text and play with the relationship between medium and message.

Faig Ahmed, Hollow 2011, (Wool warp, weft and pile)

Source: Courtesy of YAY! Gallery, Photo: Fakhriyya Mammedova

Faig Ahmed, Hollow 2011, (Wool warp, weft and pile)

Faig Ahmed has submitted two of his carpet designs for the Jameel Prize. His work combines traditional carpet embroidery with disruptive design elements to examine the role of traditional artistic practices in contemporary society.

 Mounir Fatmi, Technologia 2010, (Video projection)

Source: Courtesy of the artist and Paradise Row

Mounir Fatmi, Technologia 2010, (Video projection)

One of the judges, founding director of the Khatt Foundation for Arabic typography Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFarès, says, ‘It is exciting to see that the selected works although referencing traditional Islamic culture, also reflect universal design concerns and fresh new ideas.’

This is the third time the award has been handed out. In 2011 the prize was awarded to Rachid Koraïchi, for his work Les Maîtres Invisibles; a selection of embroidered banners. In 2008 Afruz Amighi won the prize for her piece 1001 Pages that used light and shadow to create disorienting and evocative patterns.

The Jameel Prize 3 shortlist exhibition runs from 11 December – 21 April 2014 at the V&A, Cromwell Road, London SW7

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