Lalla A. Essaydi's art combines Islamic calligraphy with representations of the female body. She addresses the complex reality of Arab female identity from her unique perspective as an Arab-American, in tandem with her personal experiences. Essaydi bridges past and present and explores the ways she can express herself from her uncertain space. Her paintings often appropriate Orientalist art from the western painting tradition, thus, inviting viewers to reconsider Orientalist mythology.
"In my art, I wish to present myself through multiple lenses -- as artist, as Moroccan, as traditionalist, as Liberal, as Muslim. In short, I invite viewers to resist stereotypes."
In 2003, an underground feminist art exhibition in Tehran, Iran entitled "Women Talking Back" featured work by artist Abelina Galustian, prompting recognition in the United States after having been shut down by the Islamic regime in Iran. Now studying in the U.S., Galustian's recent series "Womansworld," looks to classic 19th Century Orientalist Painters. She recreates detailed photorealist paintings reversing the gender. In doing so, she undermines the traditional dynamic of the male gaze. Her works point to contemporary issues of representation and the neo-orientalism rampant in the cultures the western world seeks to "liberate."
L:Jean-Leon Gerome, The Slave Market, 1867. R: Abelina Galustian, The Slave Market: Womansword 2005
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