During the late aughts and early 2010s, “Gulf Futurism,” a cultural concept articulated by artist Sophia Al-Maria, sought to articulate trends and changes affecting the region, where the advancement of a future enabled through the wide application of technology and innovation often implied tensions between tradition and modernity.
Since then, contemporary art in the Gulf, or Khaleej, has seen the emergence of Khaleeji women artists interrogating a wide range of themes such as belonging, post-oil futures, ecology and dissonance through their visual practices.
“Although contemporary art in the Arabian Peninsula has a history that can be traced back to a few decades, the academic interest in this subject is recent and there is still a lot to be done to conceptualize and theorize this. As a researcher working on the topic—with a focus on the UAE—I’d say there is still a discrepancy between the dynamism and depth of the regional art scenes, on the one hand, and its coverage and recognition on the other,” Océane Sailly, founder of Hunna Art, a UAE-based gallery that specializes in representing emerging women artists from the Arabian Peninsula in the region and at the international level, told Observer.
Sailly’s roster of up-and-coming artists, which include Razan AlSarraf, Eman Ali, and Zayn Qahtani, just to cite a few, are showing distinctive styles and maturity in engaging with their region’s multifaceted heritage while interrogating representations.
Whether through conceptual forms, reviving forgotten ancient mythologies, relying on extensive research or convoking their lived experiences, the women of this generation represent critical voices amid a rapidly burgeoning art scene.
Continue reading on the Observer.