Oasis of calm in shattered region, Dubai steps out as art hub

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The UAE is in a position to build on its openness and multicultural aspect to lead in the art scene. (Reuters)
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A piece of art called "Vanitas Table (peacock)" by Belgian artist Hans Op de Beeck is on display at Art Dubai, in Dubai, on March 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
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A woman examines a piece of art by Saudi artist Maha Malluh called "Food for Thought '15000'" at Art Dubai in Dubai on March 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
Updated 23 March 2018
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Oasis of calm in shattered region, Dubai steps out as art hub

DUBAI: As traditional centers of modern Arab art in Damascus and Baghdad have imploded amid disastrous wars, the sheeny city-state of Dubai has stepped into the vacuum as a major hub for art sales.
But at the annual Art Dubai fair this week, some Mideast artists among the scores of worldwide participants channeled in paint the chaos swirling around this bubble of calm luxury.
Tucked among the mostly apolitical photography, sculpture and installation art adorning the vast open-plan space, black-and-white paintings of war scenes in the Gaza Strip — devoid of people and any sharp detail — stand out.
“It’s like a monster, isn’t it?” says Palestinian artist Aissa Deebi, holding his arms menacingly above his head in the rough shape of a fireball from an Israeli war plan he painted exploding on top of building.
“I turned images from the TV into oil on canvas, which has its history in this tradition going back to Goya and Picasso,” he added, alluding to the latter’s iconic image of chaos brought on by a bloody air raid on the Spanish town of Guernica.
Myrna Ayad, Art Dubai’s director, said the event featuring artists from 48 countries does not seek to dwell on the region’s miseries, but noted that as Dubai’s star has risen in the art world the art on offer cannot flinch from harsh realities.
“The sad reality is that as Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and even Cairo have suffered due to political and economic strife, the UAE is in a position to build on its openness and multicultural aspect to lead in the art scene.”
“Conflict and problems aren’t all there is to art in the Middle East and our exhibition celebrates modernists and visionaries from here and all over the world ... artists do make incredible historians and documentarians, though,” Ayad added.
While she refused to name precise target for sales in the three-day event, she noted that works were on offer for between a few hundred and a few hundred thousand dollars: “There’s something for every pocket!”
Ead Samawi knows that well. A partner from the Ayyam Gallery, he has sold most of their handful of war-themed canvases for between thirty and fifty thousand dollars each to clients ranging from the US to Lebanon, and insists profit and painful subjects can go together.
Arranged in a tense jumble of colorful shapes and splotches forming the rough shape of buildings and people, the work of Syrian artist Tammam Azzam evokes the broken cityscapes and refugee throngs from his homeland.
“It’s not commodifying, this is human life: There’s war and migration that happens all over. Artists have always had their distinct, creative way of presenting it that people have been attracted to,” Samawi said.


Kate Beckinsale flaunts Lebanese look in New York

British actress Kate Beckinsale is promoting her new series, ‘The Widow.’ AFP
Updated 23 April 2019
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Kate Beckinsale flaunts Lebanese look in New York

DUBAI: British actress Kate Beckinsale appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” last week wearing a flirty cocktail dress by Lebanese designer Georges Chakra.

The one-shouldered, form-fitting black dress featured white ruffles on the neckline and shoulder and was styled with simple black Louboutin pumps and loose, wavy hair.  

“Stunner @katebeckinsale (on) ‘The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon’ in a #GeorgesChakra black-and-white ruffled mini cocktail dress from the 2018 Spring/Summer couture collection,” the fashion house posted on Instagram.

While on the late-night talk show, Beckinsale threw caution to wind and played one of Fallon’s long-running games, “Can You Feel It?”

The segment involves Fallon and his guest having to guess what an item is by feeling it inside a box.

The audience was in hysterics as both Beckinsale and Fallon were forced to caress a human foot in the final round of the game.

Beckinsale was on the show to promote her new show, “The Widow,” which is airing on Amazon Prime.

The series stars Beckinsale as Georgia Wells, a troubled woman whose life is turned upside down when she suspects that her husband, who she previously believed had died in a plane crash in Africa, may actually be alive.

She travels to Africa to find him and encounters countless dangers along the way.

“Georgia Wells is a really complicated character. I think of her as the unluckiest person in the whole world. She either has everything bad happen to her or nearly bad happen to her,” Beckinsale told the Los Angeles Times in a recent interview.

“It was a very emotionally intense role, a grueling six-month shoot in South Africa. People that you’re working with are seeing you sobbing and suffering hours and hours a day,” she added about the experience.

Beckinsale isn’t the only celebrity to appear on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” wearing an outfit by a Lebanese designer this week.

Canadian model Winnie Harlow was spotted wearing a deep blue mini dress by Elie Saab when she visited the show over the weekend.

The model showed off a richly hued dress, complete with an asymmetrical ruffle, from the designers ready-to-wear Autumn/Winter 2019-20 collection. She paired the dress with matching over-the-knee boots.