Design, art and education come together at AlAan Artspace

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Updated 21 November 2012
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Design, art and education come together at AlAan Artspace

A new contemporary art gallery ushered the growing number of art aficionados last month in Riyadh with its first exhibition “SoftPower”, which runs until Dec. 10.
Works by Saudi artists Manal Al-Dowayan, Sarah Abu Abdallah and Sarah Mohanna Al-Abdali explored daily interactions in contemporary life and raised questions about the identity of women in Saudi Arabia. They approached the subject delicately through humor, ambiguity and irony, giving it a relevance that resonates not just locally but traverses regionally and beyond.
Al-Dowayan’s work “Esmi” — an imposing and socially challenging installation of rosary beads that was first exhibited at Edge of Arabia earlier this year — was loaned to the exhibition. Created through a series of workshops that invited women to boldly etch their names onto the beads, the project was a remarkable feat not just artistically but largely in having challenged baseless traditions and absurd mores of shrouding women in anonymity.
While Al-Abdali’s “Four Wives” is a responsive social critique to the practice of polygamous marriages, Abu Abdallah’s video footage titled “Saudi Automobile” is an ironical unresolved narrative from a female’s perspective. The video shows an attempt at salvaging a sabotaged car from a junkyard by beautifying its exterior with pink paint.
“The Saudi Arabian art scene is fast evolving and SoftPower captures both the diversity and depth of the talent inside the Kingdom. Through this exhibition we were looking at diverse perspectives in art and society embedded within the works of these three artists,” explained Alaan Artspace’s founding director Neama Al-Sudairy.
The gallery’s prime focus is to foment relationships between artists, curators, collectors and cultural practitioners from within and outside Saudi Arabia by extending their mission mandate to include educational art programs, workshops and panel discussions that will allow the simmering art scene in the Kingdom to progress and grow. It is committed to building a visually strong cultural dialogue that speaks to national and international audiences.
The multi-functional gallery will also be dedicating programs aimed at nurturing emerging and established contemporary artists and designers, one of which includes the Project Wall — a not-for-profit space that will provide artists with a platform to exhibit new works on a rotational basis.
While the idea of the comprehensive gallery space was conceived in view of the lack of art institutions in the Kingdom that spoke directly to the art populace, the founders were inspired by international art galleries and institutions with integrated educational programs such as the internationally inclusive art scene in Dubai, and The Townhouse in Cairo.
“Although the art scene in the Kingdom is relatively small, the underdeveloped scene is actually liberating”, says Al-Sudairy.
While there is a strong indication for the growth of art in Saudi Arabia with an overall focus and interest internationally on art emerging from the Middle East, it is all the more important for homegrown institutions like Alaan Artspace to develop and really invest in nurturing emerging and mid-career artists, she added.
For more infomation, please visit: www.alaanart.com

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Rare Ottoman dish to go on sale at Sotheby’s London

A rare piece of Iznik pottery is going on sale at Sotheby’s in London on Wednesday. (Shutterstock)
Updated 22 October 2018
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Rare Ottoman dish to go on sale at Sotheby’s London

LONDON: An exceptionally rare, museum-quality piece of Iznik pottery is to go on sale at Sotheby’s in London on Wednesday.

The Debbane Charger (circa 1480) is set to go on sale. Sotheby’s London

The Debbane Charger, or dish (circa 1480), one of the most important pieces of Iznik pottery held in private hands, represents a significant discovery in the field of Ottoman art.
Produced during the reign of Mehmet II, the piece belongs to the earliest group of Iznik, characterized by an intense, inky, blue-black coloring which reflects the embryonic stage of firing control two decades before a brighter cobalt blue was achieved.
The charger is a lost “sibling” to four other large dishes, all of which are held in museums, including the Louvre in Paris. They are described in Nurhan Atasoy and Julian Raby’s book “Iznik: The Pottery of Ottoman Turkey,” where it was suggested they were used in court banquets. Though not identical, they display a number of shared elements — the huge scale, central floret, and use of both Rumi and Hatayi motifs, the names given to the rigorously executed arabesque decoration and Chinoiserie floral scrolls respectively.
The charger was formerly in the collection of bibliophile and businessman Max Debbane, who patronized many leading cultural institutions in the town of his birth, Alexandria in Egypt, as well as serving as president of the Archaeological Society.
Opportunities to acquire works of Iznik pottery from this earliest period are very rare, with the most significant examples dating back to Sotheby’s sales in 1993 and 1997.
Further highlights of the Wednesday’s sale include Indian paintings from the estate of Joe and Helen Darrion and a costume album that presents a comprehensive catalogue of the costumes of Ottoman Turkey in the 19th century.

The sale also includes Indian artworks. Sotheby’s London