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  • Chantal Brocca

Four Voices in Contemporary Graphic Art


The latest public installation of local works celebrates Middle Eastern emerging talent and gives a platform for non-conventional artists working at the intersection between art and graphic design.

Dubai, 1st July 2021, ICD Brookfield Place proudly unveils FOUR VOICES IN CONTEMPORARY GRAPHIC ART, an immersive large scale installation featuring a curated collection of expressive works produced by four regional graphic visual artists, hand picked for their diverse backgrounds and perspectives on modern Middle Eastern contemporary visual language: Tawfiq Dawi, most notably known as Hey Porter!, Shamma Buhazza, Monna J and Zeid Jaouni.

Conceptualized and written by Chantal Brocca

The Middle East is experiencing the rise of a new age of liberated voices. Four experimental graphic visual artists from Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon and the UAE, whose works have largely lived online are brought together and given a platform within the sphere of the traditional art gallery for the first time in order to exhibit the contemporary poster as a legitimate art form in its own right. Through experimental Arabic typeface, abstract lettering and de-rooted symbolic references taken as a whole, these works act as direct representations of the ideological and aesthetic undercurrents at play in the region: a playful and emotionally communicative reappropriation of visual language and its forms that is steadily carving out an open and limitless space for free expression at the intersection between art and graphic design.

Traditionally used in the realm of advertising, the new generation of mixed media artists fiercely emancipate poster art from the practical and utilitarian aesthetic constraints imposed on it during the consumerist-driven 20th Century, rerouting its essence back to its true and original, pre-political form as a medium of free creative expression for the artistic avant garde of the late 1800s.

An exploration of voice through abstract visual narratives and ambiguously non-defined spaces, the current evolution of graphic poster art communicates the social and ideological anxieties of a contemporary youth culture that has grown up in a fragmented cultural landscape of mixed influences, illustrating a fearless creative whirlpool of assemblages, forms and color with a meaningful focus on atypical manipulations of traditionally stereotyped Arabic calligraphy art - a creative and powerful rejection of functional, mono-visualist design dogma and archaic notions of visual communication. As one artist puts it, “ There is no right way.

By disrupting the mainstream and barriers surrounding visual language and its expression, the liberated experimentation articulated by these artists and the community that they represent allow for new ideas to be formed, elaborated and communicated, releasing a form of critical creative analysis that cultivates conscious reflections on our place and purpose, delineating the unique experiences, social structures and culturally specific ideas of a geographical space.

What this spells out is more than a simple shift in surface aesthetics; we are witnessing the intently chaotic formation of a universal visual language. In its structural base and form, Middle Eastern artists are pioneering a revolutionary platform of shared resources and design knowledge, picking apart the historic structural foundation of lettering that emerged from the culturally limited, latin script-focused technology of the early printing press and its direct rippling effect throughout much of modern design discourses, and recoding its anatomical base to allow for a de-rooted contextual expression that is collectively owned by a global community.

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