The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is currently hosting an exhibition called ‘Contemporary Ceramic Art From the Middle East’ which references over 5,000 years of art history through the works of contemporary artists from the Middle East region. Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa, illustrating their visions of political and social conflicts in a rapidly changing region. It also offers new forms of dialogue with different artistic traditions and artists’ responses to the challenges of modernization and contemporary society.
The exhibition reflects the richness and creativity of current ceramic art in the Arab region, according to the museum’s website.
The Middle East is considered a cradle of ceramic art in the world, as the earliest evidence of firing clay in kilns to produce pottery appeared in Mesopotamia. Throughout history, pottery production clusters have been concentrated in Turkey and Iran. Egypt was also notable for the production of Badarian pottery, which dates back over 4,000 years. The Naqada region in Qena Governorate in southern Egypt is still one of the most important regions for pottery production in the world.
The London exhibition is the culmination of the efforts of Mariam Rosser-Owen, director of the museum’s Middle East department, who came up with the idea for the exhibition. Preparation for the exhibition took about four years, during which Rosser-Owen conducted field studies in several countries in the region to select pieces that fit the idea of the exhibition.
The exhibition brings together 19 contemporary artists from 10 countries, including Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq, as well as Turkey and Iran.
The pieces on display include references to the development of ceramic art from the traditional forms of pots, bowls and plates in pottery, and how these forms move to new horizons suited to the modern era and the expansion of concepts. of visual arts, with the emergence of composite works of art and the so-called “arts of transformation” in the void.
Diverse generations and experiences
There are different generations, directions, formats and artistic methods in the exhibitions. The artists, of different ages, present their works according to three main themes: tradition, identity and politics. Works under the theme of tradition or heritage interact with the forms, designs and techniques of historical pottery, exploring the artist’s personal relationship with his homeland and ultimately evoking traditional methods to address many contemporary social issues. .