The Middle East is experiencing the rise of a new age of graphic expression.
Shamma Buhazza (UAE), Hey Porter! (Jordan), Monna Jabali (Palestine), and Zeid Jaouni (UAE) are all graphic artists whose works have, until now, largely lived online.
They have been brought together and given a platform in an exhibition to focus on the contemporary poster as art-form. Through experimental Arabic typeface, abstract lettering, and de-rooted symbols and references, these works are representative of undercurrents at play in the region: they are playful, emotionally communicative, and through their appropriation of visual language in its many forms, these artists are steadily carving out an open space for limitless expression at the intersection between art and graphic design. Conceived in collaboration with creative director and writer Chantal Brocca, this exhibition is free and open to the public from August 1, 2021 at The Summer Garden of ICD Brookfield Place, located in the Dubai International Financial Centre.
As forms of public art and message conveyors to audiences of all sizes – from mass marketing to coded, nuanced systems of messaging – the artists of this exhibition acknowledge the political, historical, and social meanings of the medium while also channelling the free creative expression new digital platforms and graphic tools allow.
A liberated experimentation is expressed by these artists and the community they represent, allowing for open interpretation by the viewer. Without the clear limits of defined place, intention, and message, these artists invite viewers to find and reflect on our particular place and purpose, bringing new interpretations and our own cultural and geographic specificity. There is a fearless creative whirlpool of assemblages, forms, and color that render Arabic calligraphy art as anything but traditional – a creative and powerful rejection of static text as merely functional. As one artist puts it, “There is no right way.”
The works included in this exhibition collectively signal more than an aesthetic or surface shift. At the heart of their practices, these Middle Eastern artists are pioneering a digitally-informed platform
of shared resources and design knowledge, picking apart the traditional in favor of open interpretation, free-form associations, and play unbound by any one culture or geography and open to all.
About The Artists
Tawfiq Dawi / HEY PORTER!
Tawfiq Dawi is a multi-functional, visual individual. Based in Amman, Jordan, Tawfiq combines his technological background as a self-taught graphic-designer with his bachelor’s degree in visual arts and the fact that he’s just another empty head in a meaningless timeline. He started a daily poster design routine back in 2017 to explore the possibilities and experimental aspects of graphic-design and Arabic typography every night for three years, producing an impressive archive of 1000 posters and has worked for international brands such as Apple Music, TEDx, and the Criterion Collection. He considers himself to be a one-man indie digital type foundry and design studio, focusing on designing and developing experimental contemporary fonts, marks, logos, posters and identities.
Shamma Buhazza is a freelance, multidisciplinary designer based in the UAE with a background in Communication Design at Parsons the New School for Design in NYC. Her main interests lie in typography, print design and branding. She has a portfolio with a variety of local and international clients such as the National Pavillion UAE, Apple Music, and Depop, and tends to explore the relationship between language, culture, art and visual design, and has participated in several exhibitions in the Gulf such as Breaking Khaleeji Cultural Myths by Khaleejesque, Graphic Design Biennial: Department of Non-Binaries by Fikra, Fully Booked Art Fair, and the Mind the Gap exhibition held at Tashkeel Gallery. Her work has been internationally recognised through publications such as It’s Nice That, Femme Type, IDEA Magazine, Dazed, and The Graphic Design Process by Anitra Nottingham and Jeremy Stout.
Monna Jabali is a Palestinian based photographer graduated from the Bazalel Academy of Art and winner of an outstanding final project scholarship from Shevach Ben Yehuda. Her photographs focus on the mysterious and conflicting underground nightlife scenes in Palestinian, complemented by a series of emotionally expressive illustrations that reveal her experience and insights into a very necessary and contextually specific form of escapism. Taken together, these act as a comprehensive collection of works through which Monna is able to document and share the experience of a small group of artists within the scene, exploring the personal and physical spaces that enable the existence of this unique subculture.
Zeid Jaouni is a 20-year-old Palestinian designer studying at Parsons School of Design currently majoring in Communication Design. His graphic work is an experimental portrayal of his immediate environment and cultural and ethnic heritage, incorporating direct subliminal representations of his surroundings underneath layers of playful gradients, forms and colors. Zeid is most notably known for 100 POSTERS IN 100 DAYS, a personal project that began during quarantine in 2020.
Instagram: @Zeid Jaouni
For more information visit: www.icdbrookfieldplace.com