The Victoria & Albert museum contains one of the finest collections of Islamic art in the world. Begun in the mid-nineteenth century, the founders believed that British artists could learn through a closer contact to the culture generated by the Islamic religion, uniting form and function decor. Since 2009, and every two years, the museum gives the Jameel prize in an international competition open to artists and designers from around the world. This award, which for the first time aspiring artists from Kosovo, Brazil and Norway, is a rapprochement between Islamic art and contemporary practice through various means such as modeling, video installation, calligraphy or topography.
This year, the prestigious institution awards the prize to Kayek, Turkish fashion firm established by Ece and Ayse Ege sisters. His collection Istanbul Contrast evokes the architecture and artistic heritage. One of the three designs that can be seen is ‘Hagia Sophia’ (2009), a coat of white satin inspired by Byzantine mosaics.
The room also contains the works of the ten finalists. The textile designer Rahul Jain recreating the past through magnificent silk fabrics. His work ‘The birds of Paradise’ (2008) is a magnificent piece made of silk, silver and silver plated wire gold. Another finalist is Pascal Zoghbi, specialized fonts arabica surveyor. His work presented ‘The arabic font collage’ (2013) include a new style of writing for newspapers, magazines, architecture, … interacts with Arabic calligraphy, Mounir Fatmi video presents ‘Modern Times: A History of the Machine’, which is reproduced a new composition of language as noisy locomotive wheels relentlessly advances.
The artist Wagas Khan used the skills learned in miniature painting to create large-scale drawings. One of his works, ‘Forming Spaces III’ (2012) reflects aspects of Sufism, one of the names that have been given to the mystical aspect of Islam. Thus, the calligrapher Nasser Al Salem, explores the forms found in the Arabic script. ‘Painting Guide us upon the straight Path’ (2013) marked a new and evocative calligraphy based on hospital monitor.
The author Laurent Mareschal shows its interest in the impermanence of life, focusing particularly on Palestine. ‘Beiti’ (2013) is a work made with spices from flowers of old houses. Florie Salnot designer, concerned about social issues, has worked with Sahrawi women living in refugee camps in Algeria. Inspired by traditional jewelry, necklaces showcases three of its series ‘Plastic Gold’ (2010-2012).
This is a very interesting exhibition that gathers samples thanks to prestigious international award given to works of art inspired by the heritage of Islam.