Reflections: contemporary art of the Middle East and North Africa brings together an extraordinary collection of work from the British Museum for the first time. The contemporary art of the Middle East and North Africa is rich and vibrant. Whether living in their countries of birth or in diaspora, the featured artists are part of the globalised world of art. Here we see artists responding to and making work about their present, histories, traditions and cultures, reflecting on a part of the world that has experienced extraordinary change in living memory.
The British Museum has been acquiring the work of Middle Eastern and North African artists since the 1980s, and the collection - principally works on paper - is one of the most extensive in the public sphere. Collected within the context of a museum of history, the works offer insights into the nature of civil societies, the complex politics of the region, and cultural traditions in their broadest sense, from the relationship with Islamic art, to the deep engagement with literature.
The introduction to the book by curator Venetia Porter explores the history of the collection and the works included. The essential framework for understanding the politics and context within which the artists are working is provided by Charles Tripp's essay. The works are grouped into seven chapters, each beginning with a short introduction. The authors explore the selection within themes such as faith, abstraction and the female gaze.