chapter  2
Art, politics and social change in the Gulf
ByCharlotte Schriwer
Pages 36

This paper explores the emergence of a new generation of artists and artistic genre from the Gulf states, focusing on Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. It will first review the art history of the Gulf region since the 1950s, exploring various key events that have influenced its development, such as the oil boom, the establishment of the GCC, the Iran–Iraq war and the first Gulf War. It will then examine the role of art in society and politics through the works of four very distinct artists who address sociopolitical issues from various points of view: controversial Kuwaiti artist Shurooq Amin, whose own experiences of social and political censorship have profoundly influenced her work; the work of Bahraini artist Anas al-Sheikh, which employs subtler forms of social and political critique; the influential Iraqi artist Wafaa Bilal; and the emerging Saudi artist Shaweesh, who, through their unique thought processes which have been translated into powerful works of art, address political, religious and social subject that have global significance.