Can art from the Muslim world be authentically modern and also express the spirit of Islam? The answer to this is yes. But this answer has little significance unless it is underpinned theoretically and legitimised institutionally; and the Muslim world does not yet have the ability to do this. The prevailing theories of modern art are Eurocentric within which there is no place of Islam. And although there is now tremendous creativity in the Muslim world, with its art festivals and biennales, and the success of its artist worldwide, it does not have its own art institutions, with the ability to recognise, theoretically and historically, what its artists do. All this is still dependent on the West. The task for the Muslim world now is therefore to establish its own institutions, according to its own view of things and values, to develop and promote scholarship, involving theories of art based on its own understanding of history, which would not only liberate it from its subservience to the West but also enable its modern artists to think and create freely and independently. This work of Rasheed Araeen is an attempt towards achieving these objectives.
Rasheed Araeen is an artist, writer and the Founding Editor of Third Text. As an artist, he began his journey in Pakistan in 1953, whilst also studying civil engineering. After doing some important works in Karachi, seminal to his subsequent pursuits, he came to the UK in 1964 and since then lives in London. In the 1960's and 1970's, he became active in various groups supporting liberation struggles, democracy and human rights, which in fact led him to writing 'Black Manifesto' (1975-76); and then to numerous publications: Black Phoenix (1978-79), Third Text (1987-2011), and Third Text Asia (2008-09). His present concern is with the Muslim world, for the promotion of its past achievements and what it can now do to be part of the modern world according to its own view of things, values and vision.