The Middle East is seeing a flowering of art. In countries from Egypt to Iran, Syria to Saudi Arabia artists are drawing from their Islamic culture and contemporary society and creating a new modern art aesthetic that straddles both East and West. Hossam Dirar is one such artist, a graphic designer who has become renowned for his graphic paintings, his canvases a fusion of calligraphy, street art and painting.
Brought up in Cairo Dirar has spent a lifetime living in a melting pot of cultures and working in a city that has been an important crossroads for millennia. This rich and potent mix of geography, politics and religion is the foundation for these paintings, each one a reflection of a society that is undergoing much change in particular since the Tahrir Square uprisings during the Arab Spring in 2011.
Like many young artists across the Arab world Dirar has looked to the past to invigorate the present, his love of Arabic calligraphy, patterns and motifs the point of departure, the structure on which he builds up his multi layered paintings, the result a style that has echoes of the street, the ferment and urgency of a population that demands to be heard and is seeking to take control of its own destiny. Here’s what he has to say about his work:
Art is my way of expressing my concepts and perspectives in life. Life is full of images; through my art I try to capture the essence of those images on canvas. Abstract is my keyword. Nature is my inspiration. Mind, shapes, and imaginations are my basic elements. My digital art explores the magic of our heritage in a new contemporary vision & give ‘rebirth’ to old & traditional icons; with the genuine use of colors, calligraphy, icons, & patterns. Through my artwork I try to bring to life the beauty of old times, the depth of memorable images in a modern unique vision. Thus text & calligraphy are features that I use. The strong impact of words merged with the patterns make the piece of art a true illustration of my perspectives.
Being different is thinking different. In my artwork everything is possible. Any color is allowed. All shapes, forms and colors can be mixed together. In Art a fish doesn’t have to be in the sea. Everything I observe or experience in life inspires me; everyday small details, everything surrounding us, time, heritage, and memories. I hope to make people see things that their eyes usually don’t see; showing them images of what they feel. I wish to deliver my perceptions to the world; and Art is my way. Hoping that people start to feel the essence of things, only then they will see their own images in life.