by Narimene Chaib
Feed your creativity with these hidden gems from the Middle East and North Africa
It is undeniable that Instagram is an artistic hub to boost inspiration and creativity. Aside from the cliché influencer vacations and latte art pictures, Instagram has served as a platform for a new wave of emerging artists showcasing their work with the world.
From paintings to photography, we’ve curated a list of our favorite accounts to start your art journey.
Nouri Flayhan is a Lebanese illustrator and storyteller whose style fuses nature and poetry with effortless femininity. Her art highlights women from the Middle East by their telling vibrant stories – no wonder why she was part of Gucci’s 2018 perfume campaign, Acqua di Fiori.
Moroccan-born and Belgium-raised, Mous Lamrabet is a 36 year-old photographer with a talent for mixing both Eastern and Western cultures. From the traditional Moroccan pancake, mssemen, in a Mcdonald’s fries box to a Louis Vuitton niqab, Mous Lamrabet shares the eccentric universe of his North African heritage in the context of today’s westernized culture.
Mastering the art of blending up international icons with the Algerian culture, the digital artist behind @l5yel ( Khial, خيال in Arabic, meaning imagination) pictures pop culture and tradition through vintage, colorful collages. The mix of the old and the new make a sort of creative pop art, seamlessly intertwining Arab heritage with pop culture.
Henna is an old decorative art common in the Middle-East and North Africa region, traditionally painted on women’s hands in time of celebrations, weddings or Islamic holidays. Azra Khamissa is a modern henna artist, breaking the codes of the traditional, centuries-old designs in favor of a minimalist and artistic design. She showcases her artwork in multiple forms and on diverse backgrounds, a modern revival of henna that has also revived a love of the tradition with younger generations.
The artist behind @bi9asso re-works well known pieces of art and pop culture, such as Van Gogh’s portrait and Narcos series, to portray them in a humorous and traditionally Algerian light. His artwork centres on derision by connecting these iconic figures with the everyday life of North Africa. Don’t be surprised to see Van Gogh embracing the Djellaba or Cheb Khaled chilling with Tupac Shakur.
Artsi Ifrach is an Israeli-Moroccan designer for the fashion house Maison ART/C. Behind the emotional creations, a strong connection is felt to the designer’s Moroccan roots and culture through which he expresses his creativity by adding vintage, colorful fabrics to his creations – a beautiful and atypical way to celebrate his heritage.
Idriss Karnachi is a Moroccan architect and urbanist who runs @idriesk, an artistic account of collage art that creates original content from daily life in the Maghreb. His pieces of art depict a Tarbouche transformed into a lipstick or a Babouche into a duck – shedding a contemporary artistic light to scenes from traditional Moroccan life.
23 year-old artist Ismail Zaidy poetically depicts Morocco on his instagram @l4artiste. His aesthetic and dreamy photographs capture women, the desert, and modern forms, giving an ethereal feel to traditional life. His unique style of photography tells emotional stories with scenes of pastel colors, sunsets and untraditional poses.
Hafsa Khan is a Pakistani-American artist known for her account @hafandhaf of digital art that blends Arabian heritage with the contemporary Western world. Her art includes beautiful watercolor illustrations of South Asian wearing traditional jewelry while smoking shisha, or a henna-clad hand with acrylic Louis Vuitton-printed nails – a unique view on today’s world.
By Narimène Chaib