Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) is presenting a provocative and searching exhibition of Islamic and Arabic art – Islamic Art Now: Contemporary Art of the Middle East. The exhibition marks the first collection of Middle Eastern art for the museum who has only recently acquired works from Arabic contemporary artists, as the art scene continues to flourish in the region and continue to permeate the global arena. 

Curator Linda Komaroff has selected each of the 25 works hoping to spark a conversation and illuminate the rich artistic conventions and expressions of a region that is perhaps only partially understood by the audience: "To me, a lot of these images are a challenge to an American audience to maybe rethink what their perceptions are of women in the Middle East, women in the Islamic world. Maybe they're not that different from us after all," says Komatoff. 

LA museum

LA museum

The museum describes this exhibition as being about beauty. It's also about values, religion and a clash of cultures. And it's provocative, dramatic, powerful images linger in the mind. Its focus is on the interpretation of women in the Middle East, photography and traditional calligraphic art forms, posing questions about the motivation, social position and voice of women from the veiled warrior in Shirin Neshat's 1996 work Speechless to Susan Hefuna's Woman Behind Mashrabiya.

LA museum

As the first of a two-part program, this exhibition features works by artists from Iran and the Arab world, including Shirin Neshat, Susan Hefuna, Lalla Essaydi, Mitra Tabrizian, Mona Hatoum, Hassan Hajjaj, Wafaa Bilal, Barbad Golshiri, and Youssef Nabil, among others.

LA museum

Islamic Art Now: Contemporary Art of the Middle East runs at the Los Angeles County Museum from February 1 2015 and will be ongoing