Religious Dimensions of Classical and Contemporary Islamic Art


This paper focuses on the work of Egyptian Islamic contemporary artist Ehab Mamdouh who grew up in Saudi Arabia, then moved to Cairo, where he was exposed to religious, historical concepts and art forms, then came back to work in Saudi Arabia to observe the societal struggle raging between traditional and emergent concepts, and the influence of Islam and ideology thereon. The artist conveys a fundamental tenet of Islam, embodied by the five daily calls to prayer, replete with attributes borrowed from classical Islamic art but infused with the contemporaneity of modern art—all in the context of contemporary Islamic art. In Moqeem, Mamdouh replaces the abstract geometric elements of classical Islamic art with an abstract portrayal of the praying worshipper. Mamdouh’s artistic style merges the Islamic milieu of the artist’s upbringing in Saudi Arabia and Egypt with his deep knowledge of the region’s history and architectural heritage. Moqeem is a “veiled” extension of Islamic art, in accordance with the standards by which the latter was classified in the past, yet it is shaped by the cultural development of our society and by the intellectual growth that the artist experienced on an individual level. Through this work, Mamdouh incites us to think and wonder—the true mark of a successful visual artist today.

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Senan, M. (2015) Religious Dimensions of Classical and Contemporary Islamic Art. Art and Design Review, 3, 35-41. doi: 10.4236/adr.2015.32006.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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