Contemporary Arabesques

In individual cabinets five exemplarily chosen artists present their very own perspectives on the theme of the ornamental.

We are Orient

Contemporary Arabesques

18 December 2010 – 20 February 2011

The exhibition “We are the Orient” brings together contemporary Western European artists in whose work ornaments play a central part. The different forms and approaches do not only show this motif’s numerous possibilities but also its contradictions. The artists of this show develop a new perspective on ornamentation.

Today Western societies’ feelings towards the Middle East are often defined by an anxious distance towards a foreign world. At the same time, romanticised notions with a penchant for the exotic are also still very much alive. However, a closer look beyond these clichéd ideas reveals a century-old relationship between Western and Eastern pictorial cultures. While the rejection of decorative ornaments, as propagated by the Bauhaus movement for example, largely influenced the development of modern abstract art, ornamentation is also one of the oldest forms of non-figurative depiction. Beyond their shared origins in antiquity, the influence of the Arabic and Islamic world on the Western world prevails until this day, even if we are not always aware of it.

Somewhere between strictly organised systems and poetically liberated lines, between cumbersome grids and transparent textures, and between decorative surfaces and symbolically condensed spaces, each artist develops his own installation cabinet. Thanks to these approaches, categorisations such as typically European and typically “Oriental” become redundant.


Martin Assig, Gabriele Basch, Mariella Mosler, Christine Streuli, Heike Weber

Exhibition views
Katalog_Cover Texts: Friederike Fast, Roland Nachtigäller, Thomas Niemeyer
Format: 16 x 24 cm
95 pages
45 colour ill.
Language: German | English
Editor: Marta Herford gGmbH
Price: 22 €
Particular Sponsor


Exhibition poster