Established by The Abraaj Group, a leading private equity investor, to support contemporary artists of the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia, The Abraaj Group Art Prize invested in and has given resources to artists to develop their practice by realising a unique project. The prize reflects Abraaj’s own investment philosophy, which is to take viable businesses with great potential, and create regional and global champions.
Marwan Sahmarani with Curator Mahita El Bacha Urieta
The Feat of the Damned is an installation integrating painting, drawing, ceramics and film inspired by Hell: Fall of the Condemned Ones, by Rubens, and The Last Judgement, Sistine Chapel, by Michelangelo. Sahmarani has created a three-dimensional space in which the themes of martyrdom and expiation are dealt with in a way the resembles the millennia-old techniques of fresco painting in combination with contemporary media. The result is a poignant and intimately humane artwork of universal resonance and powerful visual and emotional impact. It may seem somewhat removed from the current Arab context; however, the topics are deeply rooted in cultural traditions of the Middle East region.
Hala Elkoussy with Curator Jelle Bouwhuis
The large-scale Myths & Legends Room: The Mural is an unexpected take on the mural as a commemorative work of propaganda art, referencing wall paintings and dioramas that celebrate the political history of modern Egypt. Elkoussy’s work is inspired by Cairo as a prime example of a growing, dynamic, contemporary metropolis. She deals with modernisation as a loss of tradition as well as a challenge; to inscribe a sense of the past as contained in habits, traditions and urban legends with the current visual language of film and photography. The resulting installations are inspired by and critically comment on the speed of the dazzling urban alteration process.