Mamnoon has recently added art to our dining room to showcase artists of the Middle East and Africa. Our walls speak to the power of women, love, and seduction.

This image by Mouneer al Sharaani can be translated to "Enchantment is in the the colors, the melodies, the dew drops, the fragrances, and the flowers”. The artist is a Syrian calligrapher, designer, and print maker living and working in Cairo. Al Sharaani gave birth to a new era of contemporary Arab calligraphy through the synthesis of traditional techniques and modern styles and has received international recognition for his revitalization of the medium.

Model-turned-photographer Fabrice Monteiro is an emerging artist working in the fields of photojournalism, fashion photography, and portraiture.

Born to a Beninese father and Belgian mother, his childhood straddled the diverse cultural lines often represented in his work. Monteiro’s images carry the weight of modernity and tradition and force the viewer to confront the complex and often uncomfortable aesthetics of race, culture, and imperialism. 

This image from his ‘Signares’ series explores the role of cloth and clothing during African colonization and their subsequent meaning in an era of Westernization. Powerful Signarese women were often the ‘official wives’ of European colonizers for the duration of their stay. Often celebrated for their beauty and business mind, these women played an important role in the socio-economic development of Senegal.

These photographs by Iranian photographer Babak Kazemi are a contemporary interpretation of the legend of Shirin and Farhad.

As the story goes, Farhad was a stonemason who was in love with the beautiful Shirin, who was also desired by the powerful King Khosrow. Shirin knew of Farhad’s love and used it to make the King jealous. King Khosrow attempted to get rid of Farhad by ordering him to complete an impossible task: to win Shirin’s hand, he must move a mountain. Farhad’s love proves to be stronger than either the King or Shirin had

imagined, and he takes on the task with zeal. Amazed at the reports of Farhad’s progress, Shirin travel to the mountain to see for herself. After the long journey, though, she faints with fatigue and Farhad places both Shirin and her horse on his shoulders and carries them back to the palace.

Kazemi revisits this 16th- century tragedy to comment on the contemporary struggle of lovers who must leave their homeland to find the freedom to love as they choose. For the artist, the story reveals the message that love can overcome even the most difficult situations. 

Hassan Hajjaj, who was born in Morocco and raised in London, is a master of multiple mediums, including furniture, fashion, interior, and record album covers. Hajjaj synthesized these all into a series of sensational photo-portraits in ‘Kesh Angels’. These transcultural and trans-medium images depict a distinct subculture of young Moroccan women who work as henna tattoo artists and travel Marrakesh on motorbike.

With pride and ease, the women pose with their bikes, wearing veils and abayas, against vivid backdrops. These photos are a jarring mix of old and new, East and West, global and local. Hajjaj plays with and upends stereotypes, presenting his subjects as both traditional and defiantly modern, which infuses his photos with electrifying tension.