Image Credit: Supplied/ Art Jameel

Dubai: Artist Mehdi Moutashar hailing from Iraq and architect Marina Tabassum from Dhaka, Bangladesh have been announced as joint winners of the Jameel Prize 5.

This is the first time the prize has been awarded to two finalists. Fady Jameel, President of Art Jameel, presented Mehdi and Marina with the prize at an evening ceremony at the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) on Wednesday.

Moutashar received the award for his bold work of minimalist abstraction rooted in Islamic geometry, and Tabassum for her visionary Bait ur Rouf mosque built in 2012 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Both winners’ achievement was due to their production of work for outstanding quality and contemporary relevance while demonstrating a profound understanding of the cultures from which they come. The juries felt that although working in very different fields, the joint winners had both shown the same combination of lucidity and sophistication in drawing on Islamic tradition.

Awarded every two years, the Jameel Prize, founded in partnership with Art Jameel, is a £25,000 international art prize for contemporary artists and designers inspired by Islamic tradition.

Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A and chair of judging panel, said: “This edition, selecting one winner proved extremely difficult, due to the very high standard of work in the exhibition. The joint Jameel Prize 5 winners are both in dialogue with contemporary global discourses on art and have produced exemplary work in two very different disciplines. They show an awareness of modernist practices of the 20th century, which have in turn drawn on traditions from around the world. At the same time, though, they are passionately rooted in and deeply learned about their own cultural legacies.”

Moutashar left Iraq in the late 1960s and settled in Paris, where he encountered forms of minimalism, including geometric abstraction. He has developed these ideas, integrating them with the Islamic traditions of his native land to create a powerful personal language that has depth, wit and urgency. The juries agreed that he should be considered among the greatest living exponents of a constructivist aesthetic.

Tabassum is an architect based in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The Bait ur Rouf mosque draws on medieval Islamic architecture and celebrates the building traditions of Bengal. The mosque is a wonder in its play with geometry, abstraction, light, air and water, making it both an animated and contemplative space. Its functions answer the needs of the local community, and it is a composition of local materials and contemporary techniques, responsive to both its environment and to history. The building positions Marina as a contemporary architect of great insight and imagination.

An exhibition of work by the winner and six other short-listed artists will tour to the forthcoming Jameel Arts Centre, located in Jaddaf, Dubai (opening November 11, 2018).

The winner was decided by a panel of juries chaired by Tristram Hunt, Director of the V&A. The juries are Salah Hassan, Professor and Director, Institute for Comparative Modernities at Cornell University, New York; design historian Tanya Harrod; November Paynter who is Director of Programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Toronto; and the artist Ghulam Mohammad, who was winner of Jameel Prize 4.