Kingdom of art dazzles at Athr Gallery

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Updated 08 May 2013

Kingdom of art dazzles at Athr Gallery

The Young Saudi Artists (YSA) exhibition was initiated by Athr Gallery three years ago to serve as an incubation program for new artistic talents across the country to showcase emerging social attitudes in art. And in the same vein, each YSA term has no doubt progressed in bringing for the fresh names to the artist’s roster. But the important question remains whether the platform has been used in its full potential for those with a voice and an idea to share, if not sell.
A few artists must be credited for attempting to clearly delineate their social, national and cultural deliberations.
In a three-piece series titled “Tagged and Undocumented,” Huda Beydoun who had previously exhibited in YSA I, continued her signature feature-ridden “Mickey Mouse” bonce trend, represented in a series of three digital photographic prints, lending her subjects yet again, a sense of mystery, anonymity and generality.
Although the faceless caricature reminds me lightly of “Deadmau5’s” (progressive house musician) trademark insignia, the works have served as a seriously-intended tribute to the countless migrant “guest-workers” who have incessantly performed mundane grunt work, cleaned up the slough off the streets cared for children while busy mothers were away, or waited endlessly to sell a doll or two at the local toy store.
A reality far from its comic irony, Beydoun has addressed a social issue of relativity that speaks intimately to the generations of “foreign” citizens who have been in the Kingdom for decades, and whose merit although may have gone unrecognized has certainly not been dismissed.
“Borrowed Walls” by Noorah Kareem was a welcome gesture in addressing the rather notorious culture of unauthorized and indiscriminate graffiti spraying across walls around the city. Harsh and far from inspiring unless performed in an organized manner becoming of “artists with a cause,” such acts have long been an eye-sore in addition to serving as acts of vandalism of public spaces that most certainly must secure the concerned attention of city municipal authorities.
“Wasted Dreams” by Omama Al Sadiq resounded as a social lament much amusingly with a real stink on the culture of mere academic achievements which remain just so. Represented with a kitchen sink clogged by a wet and trashed mound of certificates, the installation raises two-fold questions. One of laundered certificates obtained through illegal means, a practice that has thankfully experienced a serious crack-down from the government lately.
The second point, to me, serves as an allegory to the current systems of education that issue mass titles and degrees without any relevance to true learning, questioning, understanding and hence a “real education.” The second part of the installation is an open refrigerator stocked with all manners of learning paraphernalia. A mocking analogy to the frozen educational tools of learning today, left open to thaw and rot, if not applied in the proper manner of instruction.
I can hear echoes of, “We don’t need no education.” Pink Floyd, anyone?
Ghada Al Rabea’s “Habeebaty” is a series of amorous illustrations created using waste candy and chocolate wrappers. Although the effort heavily appealed to me with its environmentally-friendly message of recycling waste into beautiful art, can someone also figure the twin references raised in whispering sweet nothings? Go figure.
A series of book pages enclosed in glass frames by Batool Al-Shamran are endearing pass over views for the lit-indulgent souls.
It was also a reminder of the dying print phenomenon, in reference to the declining reading culture and the dwindling print production, triumphed by the permeation of digital media. “Studies in Strange Souls,” allowed me to meditate on the installations a few seconds longer.
Rami Al-Qthami’s ready-made rotary telephone installation that keeps ringing at a pleasant interval was also a reminder that the old brings something new. When the time is right, you will hear your calling. And then, you just pick up the call. You got to go.
The exhibition Young Saudi Artists III is currently running at Athr Gallery.

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Abu Dhabi Festival reveals exciting 2019 lineup

Updated 10 December 2018

Abu Dhabi Festival reveals exciting 2019 lineup

  •  Dubbed ADF19, the festival will feature more than 100 events across 25 venues in Abu Dhabi, including 18 productions, two co-productions and two commissioned artworks
  • The festival will also shed light on artists with disabilities, with the central theme announced as “Culture of Determination”

The month-long Abu Dhabi Festival, set to be held in March 2019, announced its art-and-culture filled lineup in a press conference at the Emirates Palace hotel on Monday, with the packed itinerary set to entertain culture vultures in the capital in what will be the festival’s 16th edition.

Dubbed ADF19, the festival will feature more than 100 events across 25 venues in Abu Dhabi, including 18 productions, two co-productions and two commissioned artworks. If that isn’t enough, the festival will also feature more than 500 artists from 17 different countries.

The festival’s headline program includes performances by the Korean National Ballet — set to perform “Giselle,” a romantic ballet about a peasant girl with a passion for dance — and the Korean Symphony Orchestra. Korea has been singled out as ASF19’s “Country of Honor” and organizers are focusing on sharing its classical talent with audiences in the Middle East.

“Abu Dhabi Festival… has been contributing enormously to the region’s intercultural competence, so I’m very happy that Korea could be a part of the wonderful celebration,” the Republic of Korea’s Ambassador to the UAE Kang-ho Park told the press via video link on Monday.  

The festival will also shed light on artists with disabilities, with the central theme announced as “Culture of Determination.”

Festival founder Huda I. Alkhamis-Kanoo took to the stage alongside Peter Wheeler, CEO of the Special Olympics World Games Abu Dhabi, to sign a cooperation agreement at Monday’s press conference and a March 16 concert titled “Stand Up For Inclusion” was announced as one of the main events during next year’s festival.

The festival will also host an exhibition called “Distant Prospects,” presenting the history of European landscape painting through renowned pieces by key figures in the Late Renaissance and Baroque eras.

Other highlights include a performance by award-winning US jazz pianist Justin Kauflin on March 11, a dance show by the Sara Baras Flamenco Ballet Company on March 21 and a full-length, three-act plotless performance by the Paris Opera Ballet, backed by the Pasdeloup Orchestra — the oldest symphony orchestra in France — on March 29 and 30.