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Algerian artist Rachid Koraïchi bags Jameel Prize 2011

The Algerian born Rachid Koraïchi won the £25,000 Jameel Prize for a selection of embroidered cloth banners from a series entitled Les maitres invisibles (The Invisible Masters), 2008

Ahram Online, Wednesday 14 Sep 2011
Rachid Koraichi: Les Maitres Invisibles (The Invisible Masters) 2008. (Photos courtesy of V&A)

Martin Roth, the Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A), Hasan Jameel and Ed Vaizey MP, presented Rachid Koraïchi with the Jameel Prize at a ceremony at the V&A on Monday 12 September.

The jury felt that Rachid’s work matches the aims of the Jameel Prize through quality of design and reliance on traditional craft. They particularly admired how he has made a spiritual and intellectual tradition accessible to all through the contemporary graphic language he created.

Koraïchi uses Arabic calligraphy together with the symbols and ciphers of a range of other languages and cultures to explore the lives and legacies of 14 great mystics of Islam including Rumi and Ibnul Arabi.

The work aims to show how the legacy of Islam, in contrast to contemporary perceptions, is tolerant and sophisticated. Sufi “masters”, whose fame has spread even to the West, left an imprint on successive generations and their message is just as relevant today as when they first uttered it.

Awarded every two years, the Jameel Prize is an international art prize for contemporary artists and designers inspired by Islamic traditions of craft and design. It aims to raise awareness of the thriving interaction between contemporary practice and the rich artistic heritage of Islam, contributing to a broader debate about Islamic culture.

For his part Rachid Koraïchi said, “When the announcement was made my first reaction was one of surprise – but of course, also, one of great pleasure. I think the quality of the artists shortlisted meant that any one of us could have been chosen. Taken together we represent the immense talent and creativity of the world of Islamic art as it exists in the present.”

Professor Martin Roth, the chair of the jury and director of the V&A, said, “Rachid’s work stood out because his banners have a universal appeal. They work in the white space of a contemporary art gallery, but they also hold their own in historical settings – from Parisian palaces to simple Sufi shrines.”

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