25 paintings by 25 leading Middle Eastern Contemporary Artists, with footnotes

Chant Avedissian
ICONS OF THE NILE, c. 1991-2010
20.67 X 28.58 in (52.5 X 72.6 cm)
Gold and silver acrylic paint, gouache and hand-coloured stencil on cardboard
Private collection

Chant Avedissian was born in Cairo, Egypt, in 1951. Coming from Christian Armenian traditions due to his origins, but raised and educated inside the Egyptian culture and schools, he and his work had been always committed to the identity of nations, traditions and culture. His work for the Aga Khan Foundation with celebrated Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy (1900-1989), inspired him to develop a strong interest in traditional art and local materials: all the tracks and tools he follows to understand and get a close look to his own primal identity as a transversal human being.

Well travelled, Avedissian finds icons from traditional arts and local cultures around the world and transfer them to his own universe, working through a wide range media, including photography ant textiles. Since 1990, his most known work focuses in painted stencils on cardboard, showing the icons he found during his trips all around the world trough several countries, from Egypt to Uzbekistan, Paris to Canada, from Cuba to Greece. Avedissian stencils collect symbols and icons from every corner visited by the artist and translate them into his own artistic language. More on Chant Avedissian 

By Kour Pour, c. 2010
48.03 X 72.05 in (122 X 183 cm)
Acrylic on canvas
Private collection

Kour Pour (born 1987) is a British-born American artist, who is of British and Iranian-descent. His artwork is inspired by living between different cultures and he works primarily in painting and printmaking. Pour is best known for a series of carpet paintings. He lives in Los Angeles. More on Kour Pour

Ali Banisadr, c. 2011
36.02 X 30.12 in (91.5 X 76.5 cm)
Oil on panel
Private collection

Ali Banisadr was born in 1976 in Tehran, Iran. He moved to California with his family when he was a child and later attended the School of Visual Arts, New York, until 2005 and the New York Academy of Art, from which he graduated in 2007. He had his first solo exhibition at Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects in New York in 2008.

Banisadr’s work is characterised by dream-like, hallucinatory and often chaotic landscapes. This subject matter is inspired by childhood memories, imaginary scenes, the history of painting and sound. Banisadr has synaesthesia (the ability to experience sound visually). As a young boy during the Iran-Iraq War, Banisadr would draw to create a visual understanding of the sounds of explosions and air raids. These internal noises guide his mark making on the canvas and plate to create layered compositions of disordered forms and figures. More on Ali Banisadr

Vik Muniz
87.01 X 122.01 in (221 X 309.9 cm)
Private collection

Vik Muniz (Brazilian, b.1961) is a Contemporary visual artist who was born Vicente José de Oliveira Muniz in São Paulo, Brazil. Muniz began to discover art in the books he borrowed from his high school library. After studying advertising at the Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado de São Paulo, he moved to Brooklyn, NY, with his family in 1983. The artist began his career as a sculptor in the late 1980s, but he gradually became more interested in drawing and photography.

In 1988, Muniz explored the memory, perception, and images represented in arts and communication. He created The Best of Life, the series of drawings in which he reproduced from his memory some of the famous photographs he saw in the magazine Life. He then photographed his drawings to give more reality to his memories. In the mid-1990s, in order to create witty, bold, and often deceiving images based on photojournalism and art history, Muniz began to incorporate unusual and everyday materials into his photographic process. These materials included dust, diamonds, sugar, dry pigment, ketchup, caviar, and wire. In 1997, Muniz became well-known for his Pictures of chocolate series, in which he used chocolate syrup to create his works. The artist borrowed from popular culture and Old Masters artists such as Georges Seurat and Vincent Van Gogh to make his works more familiar. He called this approach the “worst possible illusion.” More on Vik Muniz

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian, c. 2007
36.81 X 48.23 in (93.5 X 122.5 cm)
Reverse-glass painting and plaster on wood
Private collection

Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (December 1922 – 20 April 2019) was an Iranian artist and a collector of traditional folk art. She is noted for having been one of the most prominent Iranian artists of the contemporary period, and she was the first artist to achieve an artistic practice that weds the geometric patterns and cut-glass mosaic techniques (Āina-kāri) of her Iranian heritage with the rhythms of modern Western geometric abstraction. In 2017, the Monir Museum in Tehran, Iran was opened in her honor. More on Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian

Ayman Baalbaki
AL-MULATHAM I, c. 2008
74.8 X 48.43 in (190 X 123 cm)
Acrylic and printed fabric on canvas
Private collection

Ayman Baalbaki is a Lebanese artist, living and working in Beirut. He studied Fine Arts in Beirut and at the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. Born during the Lebanese civil war in the 1970s, Baalbaki draws most of his inspiration from this subject matter. In 2012, Baalbaki was part of the The Future of a Promise at the 54th Venice Biennale: the first pan-Arab exhibition of contemporary art to feature in the festival. This exhibition brought together more than 25 recent works by some foremost artists of the Arab world. His work depicted warriors wearing veils or casks. His paintings often describe the seemingly endless conflicts that haunt the Middle East. More on Ayman Baalbaki 

Mohammed Ehsai
61.81 X 61.81 in (157 X 157 cm)
Oil and silver leaf on canvas
Private collection

Mohammed Ehsai is a contemporary Iranian artist whose stylized work is characterized by a melding of Arabic calligraphy, graphic design, and Modernist abstraction. Two-tone compositions of conflated Arabic symbols and script, painted on large-scale canvases, form the backbone of Ehsai's practice. Featuring twisting forms and delicate symmetrical design, his paintings offer a uniquely global vision of the 20th and 21st centuries. Born in Qazvin, Iran in 1939, he attended Tehran University in 1966 to study fine art and traditional calligraphy, before going on the attain a teaching position there in 1971. His culturally loaded work has received international attention, garnering commissions such as murals on the Abu Dhabi's Iranian Embassy in the United Arab Emirates. More on Mohammed Ehsai

Abdulnasser Gharem
Men at work (Time magazine person of the year 2003: The American soldier) , c. 2011
62.99 X 78.74 in (160 X 200 cm)
Ink and lacquer paint on rubber stamps and board
Private collection

Abdulnasser Gharem (born 4 June 1973) is a Saudi Arabian artist and also a lieutenant colonel in the Saudi Arabian army. In April 2011, his installation Message/Messenger sold for a world record price at auction in Dubai.

Gharem's work is in the collections of the British Museum, the Victoria & Albert Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture and Information, His artwork is characterized by innovative use of materials, including rubber stamps, a collapsed bridge, and an invasive tree. More on Abdulnasser Gharem

Nejib Belkhodja
37.99 X 76.38 in (96.5 X 194 cm)
Acrylic on canvas
Private collection

Néjib Belkhodja (1933 - died May 8, 2007) was a Tunisian painter. He was the brother-in-law of economist Ali Zouaoui; among his works were the designs for several Tunisian stamps.

Born to a father from the Tunisian bourgeoisie of Turkish origin, whose members were mainly specialized in the trade and industry of hats, and a Dutch mother, opera singer at the Opéra de Paris, he studied at the School of Fine Arts in Tunis.

He began exhibiting his artwork in 1956 and solo exhibits in Tunisia; the same year he received the Tunis City International Exhibition Award. He also continues his career in France and Morocco, he participated in many group exhibitions throughout the world including in Tunisia, the United Kingdom, France, Egypt, West Germany and the United States. He won the gold medal in Italy in 1964 and Egypt in 1968. Also in 1968, he won the National Award for the painting of the Cité internationale des arts in Paris. In 1991 he organized an exhibition in Tunis with the Iraqi painter Dia Azzawi.

Belkhodja is distinguished by a particular approach to the traditional architecture of the medina, where the success of his works and paintings that bear the mark of specificity and authenticity of the modern Tunisian art. More on Néjib Belkhodja

Hassan Hajjaj
19.69 X 15.75 in (50 X 40 cm)
Cibachrome print inset with kohl boxes mounted to board in artist's frame
Private collection

Hassan Hajjaj (b. 1961, Larache, Morocco), is an artist working principally in the photographic medium, with bases in both Morocco and the UK. Hajjaj’s photographs feature the powerful and rhythmic colors and patterns of North Africa, along with figures adopting idiosyncratic poses. In his portraits, the artist produces creative frames that combine commercial objects consumed in Morocco, including drinks, cans of food, toys, recycled tires, and matchboxes. Rather than being mere decorations, theseare reinterpretations of Morocco’s traditional mosaic patterns and tiles from Hajjaj’s perspective, giving excellent expression to the complexity of contemporary culture. His artistic vision represents the coalescence of powerful North African visual elements and his experiences with multicultural artistic realms that he encountered as a matter of course in the vast and cosmopolitan city of London during the 1970s and 1980s, including street music, fashion, and interior design. Boasting a defiant and creative spirit, Hajjaj’s work guides us into a world that is diverse and exhilarating.

Hassan Hajjaj was born in the northern Moroccan city of Larache and works and lives in Morocco and England. Hajjaj’s numerous solo and group exhibitions include those at the Hayward Gallery, London; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; Somerset House, London; Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA); the British Museum, London; the de Young Museum, San Francisco; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and National Museum of the 21st Century (MAXXI), Rome. His work has been collected by a number of leading institutions, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, Guggenheim Museum Abu Dhabi, Brooklyn Museum, and the British Museum. More on Hassan Hajjaj

Hatim El Mekki
28.54 X 23.74 in (72.5 X 60.3 cm)
Oil on canvas
Private collection

Hatim El Mekki, Tunisia (1918 - 2003) was born in 1918 in Batavia, the former name of Jakarta, Indonesia, to a Tunisian father and an Indonesian mother, Hatem El Mekki visited his father’s homeland for the first time in 1924 and stayed there. He pursued his education at lycée Carnot in Tunis before the government granted him a scholarship to study in Paris, where he resided at the Cité Internationale des Arts during the 1930s. The artist settled in Tunis in 1951 and started developing his style. El Mekki is an artist who lived multiple historical events that marked his memory and vision of life. He would create a unique style combining his formal artistic training with the art of ‘batik’ – Indonesian printing technique on cloths – to represent what he experienced. With abstracted forms and implicated lines, he applied warm colors to make the scenes intense and sometimes severe. His work revealed hard times like French colonization portraying particular attention to the expressions of the characters. Hatem El Mekki passed away in 2003 in Carthage, Tunisia. More on Hatim El Mekki

49.61 X 48.43 in (126 X 123 cm)
C-print photo-etching
Private collection


Shaweeshm 1990 born and lives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, is a mixed-media artist who articulates the cultural diffusions between Saudi Arabia and the global community throughout history, measuring this intercultural dialogue through both visual arts and digital design. With the onset of the internet age, Shaweesh began using the web as a gateway into a new inspiration, as he incorporated Pop Art and Western-branded graphics into his creations.

In his newest series, he superimposes US cultural symbols ranging from Captain America to Darth Vader onto famous historical events. Growing up watching Western cartoons as a child while visiting his friends’ houses, he has incorporated this childlike humor into his work. While visiting street vendors in Riyadh, he bought old newspapers dating back to key years referring to Western and Saudi foreign relations. Evolving into a satirical harmony by addressing Saudi historical narratives, he then digitally incorporates cartoon heroes whose personas range from leaders, mentors and organizers, as they correlate to the initiatives raised at these historical events. More on Shaweesh

Aref El Rayess
23.62 X 29.53 in (60 X 75 cm)
Oil on canvas
Private collection

Born in Aley (Lebanon) in 1928, Aref El Rayess started painting at the age of eleven. In 1948 his first exhibition was held in Beirut with the support of the journalist Arlette Levy, the artist Georges Cyr, the art critic Victor Hakim and the Head of the French Institute of Archaeology Henry Seyrig.

From 1948 to 1957 El Rayess travelled between Senegal and Paris where he studied art at the Academy of Fine Arts, and the free studios of Fernand Leger, Andre Lhôte, and La Grande Chaumière among others. In 1957 he returned to Lebanon and opened a studio and an atelier of Aubusson tapestries with the Canadian Roger Caron. In 1959 after an exhibition at the Italian Cultural Centre he was offered a scholarship to study in Italy. He spent four productive years between Florence and Rome; and in 1963 the Lebanese government commissioned him to produce two sculptures to represent Lebanon at the New York World Fair. El Rayess spent two years in the USA meeting with Expressionists painters and intellectuals.

In 1967 he returned to Lebanon, marked by the events in the Arab World. He was a Founding member of the Fine Arts Department at the Lebanese University where he taught, and Dar el Fan (The House of Art and Culture) with his close friend Janine Rubeiz. From that moment on, El Rayess organized, attended and participated in conferences and exhibitions on politics and arts in the Arab World. In 1972 he published a manifesto titled With Whom and Against Whom. In 1975 he was invited to Algeria where he produced a series of drawings depicting the Lebanese civil war, published as the book The Road to Peace; and in 1978 he participated in the International Art Exhibition in Solidarity with Palestine. He started working in Saudi Arabia around this time, where he produced around 13 sculptures between Jeddah, Tabuk and Riyad. He stayed in Jeddah until 1987 and returned to Aley, Lebanon, in 1992, where he lived until he passed away in 2005. More on Aref El Rayess

Triki Gouider
UNTITLED 6, c. 2005
26.77 X 19.69 in (68 X 50 cm)
Acrylic, gold leaf and pen on paper
Private collection

Gouider Triki is a painter and engraver who composes imaginary landscapes filled with stylized figurative elements and mystical symbols and decorative signs drawn from Islamic and Berber traditions. Eschewing linear perspective, Triki instead creates all-over, flattened, two-dimensional spatial compositions that undulate with pulsating colors and rhythmic lines and have been characterized as expressing an organized chaos. Influenced by his life as a farmer and herd keeper, Triki often explores zoomorphic representations in his paintings and lithographs. The artist trained at the School of Fine Arts both in Tunis (1966-71) and in Paris (1971-74). In 1975, he was awarded a residency at the International City of the Arts in Paris. He has been exhibiting in solo and group exhibitions throughout the region and abroad since the mid-1960s, including at the Centre Pompidou and the Institut du Monde Arabe. His career was honored by the Presidential Prize of Tunisia in Painting. More on Gouider Triki

Dia Al-Azzawi
39.37 X 47.24 in (100 X 120 cm)
Acrylic on canvas
Private collection

Born in Baghdad in 1939, Dia Azzawi started his artistic career in 1964, after graduating from the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad and completing a degree in archaeology from Baghdad University in 1962.

In 1969, Azzawi (with Rafa Nasiri, Mohammad Muhriddin, Ismail Fattah, Hachem al-Samarchi and Saleh al Jumaie) formed the New Vision group (al-Ru’yya al-Jadidah), uniting fellow artists ideologically and culturally as opposed to stylistically. Through his involvement with the New Vision group Azzawi found inspiration in contemporary subjects and issues, particularly the plight of the Palestinians. He was also briefly a member of Shakir Hassan Al Said’s One Dimension group (Jama’t al-Bu’d al-Wahid).

From 1968 to 1976, Azzawi was the director of the Iraqi Antiquities Department in Baghdad. He has lived in London since 1976, where he served as art advisor to the city’s Iraqi Cultural Centre, from 1977 to 1980. Azzawi’s move to London led him to rediscover book art (dafatir), an art form that he has encouraged other artists from Iraq and the region to explore.

With exhibitions of his work have been held in international, private and public collections including the Museums of Modern Art in Baghdad, Damascus and Tunis; Jordan National Gallery of Fine Arts, Amman; Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Doha; Barjeel Art Foundation, Sharjah; Kinda Foundation, Saudi Arabia; Una Foundation, Casablanca; Arab Monetary Fund, Abu Dhabi; Development Fund, Kuwait; Jeddah International Airport; British Museum, Tate Modern, and Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Institut du Monde Arabe, Bibliothèque Nationale de France and Colas Foundation, Paris; Harba Collection, Iraq and Italy; Gulbenkian Collection, Barcelona; and Library of Congress and the World Bank, Washington, DC. More on Dia Azzawi

Rachid Koraïchi
119.69 X 59.84 (Depth: 2.76) in (304 X 152 (Depth: 7) cm)
Hand woven and embroidery silk
Private collection

Rachid Koraïchi is an Algerian artist, sculptor, print-maker and ceramicist, noted for his contemporary artwork which integrates calligraphy as a graphic element.

Koraïchi was born on 20 January 1947 in Ain Beida, Algeria into a Sufi family of Qu'ranic scholars and copyists. He received his early art education at the École des Beaux-Arts in Algeria, where he studied calligraphy. Later, he attended the École des Arts Décoratifs and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.

His Sufi upbringing has influenced much of his work by giving him an abiding fascination with scripts and symbols. For Koraïchi, writing is sacred and charged with meaning. His work makes extensive use of Arabic calligraphy as well as glyphs drawn from other languages.

He has produced work in varied media, including ceramics, textiles, installation art, metallurgy, painting, and printmaking, and often collaborates with local artisans in his work. More on Rachid Koraïchi

Farid Belkahia
UNTITLED, c. 1981
39.37 X 78.74 in (100 X 200 cm)
Pigment on vellum
Private collection

Rachid Koraïchi is an Algerian artist, sculptor, print-maker and ceramicist, noted for his contemporary artwork which integrates calligraphy as a graphic element.
Koraïchi was born on 20 January 1947 in Ain Beida, Algeria into a Sufi family of Qu'ranic scholars and copyists. He received his early art education at the École des Beaux-Arts in Algeria, where he studied calligraphy. Later, he attended the École des Arts Décoratifs and the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
His Sufi upbringing has influenced much of his work by giving him an abiding fascination with scripts and symbols. For Koraïchi, writing is sacred and charged with meaning. His work makes extensive use of Arabic calligraphy as well as glyphs drawn from other languages.
He has produced work in varied media, including ceramics, textiles, installation art, metallurgy, painting, and printmaking, and often collaborates with local artisans in his work. More on Rachid Koraïchi

Ramses Younan
UNTITLED, c. 1945
18.5 X 14.37 in (47 X 36.5 cm)
Oil on canvas
Private collection

Ramses Younan (Minya, 1913 – Cairo, 1966), was an Egyptian painter and writer. He work is most commonly associated with the Art and Liberty Group, a Cairo-based surrealist collective of artists, writers, intellectuals and activists with an anti-nationalist message.

Ramses Younan was born into a poor, Coptic-Christian family in Minya, a city approximately 150 miles south of Cairo and along the western bank of the Nile River. In 1929 he enrolled in the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo but left in 1933 to teach drawing in secondary schools in various regional towns throughout Egypt after receiving his teaching certificate in 1934. In the years between 1933 and 1938, he was a regular participant in art salons hosted by the Friends of the Fine Arts Association. Before officially joining Georges Henein in Art et Liberté in 1939, Younan joined The Society for the Promotion of Art (Jamaa'at al-di'aya al-fanniyya) in 1935. It was "a collective established by artist Habib Gorgui calling for the importance of art in education." In 1938, the Society published his first book The Aim of the Contemporary Artist in which he analyzed the work of the French cubist painter Amédée Ozenfant and his theories of Purism. In 1939, along with Georges Henein, Ikbal El Alaily, and Edmond Jabès, Ramses Younan founded the surrealist journal La Part du Sable. He was also a prominent member of the leftist art and political group Art et Liberté and signed their manifesto "Long Live Degenerate Art!" on 22 December 1938. More on Ramses Younan

Mohamed Abo Khalil Lotfy
31.89 X 29.92 in (81 X 76 cm)
Oil on canvas
Private collection

Mohamed Abo Khalil Lotfy, was a pre-eminent Egyptian, Art critic Aime Azar coupled Lofty with Egyptian art group The Independents, a group without a group. Unlike the Contemporary Art Group led by Hussein Youssef Amin, and the Freedom Group led by Georges Henein, The Independents did not band together around a single leader and began to cultivate their own abstraction from the 1960s onwards.
Lotfy was born in Cairo in 1920. After graduating from the Faculty of Fine Arts in Cairo in 1944, he further continued his studies at Ohio University in 1949 and at New York University from 1950 to 1953. Lotfy’s work was heavily focused on abstraction and the use of tonality in colours. He is celebrated for his deft mastery of the colors black, yellow and ivory, combined with his investigation, as seen in the present work, into various vertical and horizontal lines as juxtaposed with systematic circular points to illustrate the precision of his technique. Lotfy found serenity in his practice and the correlation between the intricacies of linear formation to the existential theories of life. More on Mohamed Abo Khalil Lotfy

Moulay Ahmed Drissi
MARABOUT, c. 1972
24.8 X 48.43 in (63 X 123 cm)
Oil on board
Private collection

Moulay Ahmed Drissi was a self-taught painter who used oil paints to depict stylized versions of daily life. Drissi was interested not in straightforward representations, but in showing his coherent worldview, using minimal details in his images of people and landscapes. In 1945 he met painters from Switzerland who encouraged his interests and, from 1948 to 1956, he traveled extensively throughout Europe. His first exhibition was in 1952 in Lausanne, and he exhibited for the first time in Morocco in 1957 in Marrakech. That same year, Drissi exhibited his work at the second Alexandria Biennale, and was part of the foundational early exhibitions of Moroccan modern art including the first Paris biennale (1959) and the “Deux milles ans d’art au Maro” (Galerie Charpentier, Paris, 1963) exhibition. In 1957, Drissi founded the short-lived gallery L’Oeil Noir. He was the focus of an early monograph (1960) in a short series of Moroccan painters organized by Gaston Diehl. More on Moulay Ahmed Drissi

Abdelaziz Gorgi
29.92 X 21.65 in (76 X 55 cm)
Acrylic, gold leaf, ink and pen on paper
Private collection

Abdelaziz Gorgi (born 2 June 1928—died 10 January 2008) was a Tunisian artist. He was one of the founders of the Tunis School of painting and one of the most prominent members of Tunisia's cultural scene.

Gorgi was born in the Tunisian medina in 1928 and studied at the Tunis Institute of Fine Arts before beginning an artistic career in France. He helped create the Tunis School of painting which he led until 1983. He established his own art gallery, the Gorgi Gallery, in 1973 which mainly shows works of new Tunisian artists. His paintings and tapestries have been featured in exhibitions across the world. Gorgi taught drawing, ceramics and painting at the Institute of Fine Arts from 1959 to 1983.

Gorgi was honored by President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on several occasions. Once, Ali gave him the Grand Ribbon of National Merit for culture in 1999, as well as the President's Prize for innovation and creation on November 7, 2000. Besides these awards granted by the president, he received the Award of Merit in the field of visual arts in 1990.

Gorgi died on January 10, 2008, in Tunis, aged 79. More on Abdelaziz Gorgi 

Mohamed Ben Allal
21.26 X 35.04 in (54 X 89 cm)
Oil on canvas
Private collection

Mohamed Ben Allal born in (1924) in Marrakech is one of the very first naive painters in Morocco initiated into painting alongside Jacques Azéma. Born in 1924 in Marrakech, this self-taught artist draws his thematic repertoire from the world of storytellers in the Jamaa El Fna square.

The chromatic palette chosen by the artist echoes the colors of the southern landscapes from which he draws his inspiration.

Ben Allal’s works are daily representations and an invitation into the intimacy of Moroccan society in its simplest form.

The artist’s compositions have been very successful both on the Moroccan scene and beyond national borders. More on Mohamed Ben Allal

Jellal Ben Abdallah
26.38 X 38.35 in (67 X 97.4 cm)
Acrylic and gold leaf on board
Private collection

Inji Efflatoun
26.18 X 31.3 in (66.5 X 79.5 cm)
Oil on canvas
Private collection

Inji Aflatoun (April 1924 – 17 April 1989) was an Egyptian painter and activist in the women's movement. She was a "leading spokeswoman for the Marxist-progressive-nationalist-feminist movement in the late 1940s and 1950s", as well as a "pioneer of modern Egyptian art" and "one of the important Egyptian visual artists"

During school, Aflatoun liked to paint and her parents encouraged her. Her private art tutor, Kamel el-Telmissany, a leader in an Egyptian Surrealist collective called the Art and Freedom Group, introduced her to surrealist and cubist aesthetics. Her paintings of that period are influenced by surrealism. She later recalled that people were astonished by her paintings and wondered "why a girl from a rich family was so tormented". She stopped painting from 1946 to 1948, considering that what she was painting no longer corresponded to her feelings. Her interest was later renewed after visiting Luxor, Nubia, and the Egyptian oases. During these trips, she had the opportunity to "penetrate the houses and sketch men and women at work". 

She joined Harakat ansar al salam (Movement of the Friends of Peace) in 1950. She was arrested and secretly imprisoned during Nasser's roundup of communists in 1959. After her release in 1963, Egypt's Communist party having been dissolved, she devoted most of her time to painting. She later declared: "Nasser, although he put me in prison, was a good patriot."

She studied for a year with the Egyptian-born Swiss artist Margo Veillon During this period, she made solo exhibits in Cairo and Alexandria and showed at the Venice Biennale in 1952 and the São Paulo Art Biennial in 1956. In 1956 she became friends with and was later influenced by the Mexican painter David Alfaro Siqueiros. 

She was able to continue painting during her imprisonment. Her early prison paintings are portraits, while the later are landscapes. In the years after her liberation, she exhibited in Rome and Paris in 1967, Dresden, East Berlin, Warsaw and Moscow in 1970, Sofia in 1974, Prague in 1975, New Delhi in 1979. Her paintings are filled with "lively brushstrokes of intense color" reminding some observers of Van Gogh or Bonnard. Her art of later years is characterised by an increasing use of large white spaces around her forms. A collection of her works is displayed at the Amir Taz Palace in Cairo. Another collection of her works is showcased at the Barjeel Art Foundation in Sharjah. More on Inji Aflatoun

UNTITLED, c. 1967
31.5 X 46.85 in (80 X 119 cm)
Gouache on paper
Private collection

Baya Mahieddine or Fatima Haddad, born in Bordj El Kiffan on December 12, 1931; died November 9, 1998) was an Algerian artist. While she did not self-identify as belonging to a particular art genre, critics have classified her paintings as being surrealist, primitive, naïve, and modern. Her works are mainly paintings, though she did pottery as well, all completely self-taught.

At the age of sixteen Baya had her first exhibition, in Paris, where she gained notice from renowned artists such as Picasso and André Breton. Her work was presented in various exhibitions in France and Algeria, and has appeared on Algerian postage stamps. More on Baya Mahieddine

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