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New Orientalism - Mohamed Abouelnaga

New Orientalism

80 cm x 60 cm

Mixed media with photos on tulle- 3 layers of tulle on canvas

In this work I am attempting to dismantle the collective and historical “Orientalism,” the western view of the Middle East, to represent it in the female form, which was so often used in the traditional painting of the Orientalist period of art.


When I view the Orientalist paintings of the 19th century, I feel like I am in a surreal world that has blended realistic elements with an imaginary world of fantasy. An example is when semi-nude women are portrayed as standing in markets where no one takes any notice. It is as if the paintings of Da Vinci or Michelangelo have been transported romantically to an Arab setting.


In my work I am reflecting on the Eastern cultural awareness being developed through these Western perceptions that still exist. I am attempting to re-launch the aesthetic of Orientalism to reflect the reality of today’s “Orient.” This New Orientalism does not imply cultural control or imposed Western perceptions but embraces the evolution of media, communication and globalization.There is no pure aesthetic, it cannot be contained or partitioned, but is a legacy of both Oriental and Western cultures bridging together and as such is the beginning of a new contemporary artistic experience

Mohamed AbouelNaga

Mohamed Abouelnaga is a multidisciplinary visual artist, art professor, curator and developer.  Born in the Egyptian city of Tanta, Abouelnaga graduated with honors from the Faculty of Fine Art and obtained a PhD in Philosophy of Art from Alexandria University. He was the first Middle Eastern artist to receive a grant from the Japan Foundation to study the arts of papermaking.


In the following decade, he made several solo shows in Egypt and around the world that varied between painting, video and installation. His major exhibitions include: “Hay Carriers” at Markheya Gallery, Doha, and “Soad Hosny” at Duke Gallery London. He  received the first price for his Video Art Cairo 11 from Danube Video Art Festival in Austria.


In 2009, he was the curator of the 25th Alexandria Biennale for Mediterranean   Countries and in 2011, he was the curator of Sharjah Children Art Biennale.In addition, Abouelnaga is using his multidisciplinary skills in the social development field. He founded Elnafeza for Contemporary Art & Development where he trained more than 25 handicapped youngsters in using rice straws, Nile water lilies and banana stalks for papermaking.



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