Ethiopia makes its Art Dubai debut

Wosene Worke Kosrof, America — The New Alphabet, (2017).
Updated 23 March 2018
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Ethiopia makes its Art Dubai debut

One of the most exciting features of Art Dubai is the Ethiopian art on show, as the country’s leading gallery, Addis Fine Art, brings two notable artists to the emirate in a thoughtfully curated collection.
While the annual art fair – like its home city – is as multicultural as it gets, this is the first time Ethiopian art has made an appearance, with the hope of building an international audience for the country’s burgeoning arts scene.
While Ethiopia has a rich and ancient art heritage – dominated primarily by religious art led by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, until around the middle of the 20th century, when secular art started to be created – the arts have certainly made a resurgence in recent years.
Girma Berta, Moving Shadows II, I, (2017).
According to Rakeb Sile, co-owner of Addis Fine Art: “The number of Ethiopian artists invited to participate in art fairs and to show their work in prominent galleries and museums around the world today is unprecedented. International collectors are noticing and buying, while local collectors are also spending significant amounts on artwork, which was unthinkable just a decade ago.
“The growing public participation in art-related events is also very encouraging. The youth of the city, in particular, are the most visible participants, and the most receptive to new forms of expression that challenge traditional norms.”
Getting to this point hasn’t been easy, however, with the geopolitical challenges that the country has faced for decades. “Soon after the transition from church-influenced art to modern expression occurred, the political revolution from the early 1970s onwards greatly inhibited artists’ ability to practice freely along with their counterparts across the continent,” explained Mesai Haileleul, Rakeb’s partner and co-owner of Addis Fine Art gallery.
Girma Berta, Moving Shadows II, II, (2017).

However, thanks to the persistence of dedicated members of the art community and institutions such as the pioneering Alle Felegeselam School of Fine Art and Design, today there is a growing number of gifted Ethiopian artists practicing their craft across various media, and enjoying increasing interest and appreciation from the global art world.
One such artist who has had a significant impact on the current scene is painter and sculptor Wosene Worke Kosrof. His journey of becoming an artist back when “it was not viewed as a viable occupation” to be exhibited around the world — including at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC — and being considered a vanguard of modern Ethiopian painting, can be considered a metaphor for the Ethiopian art movement, in fact.
He represents the old guard of Ethiopian painting with his use of Amharic script forms as a core element, which he often combines with abstract influences from the American Modernist movement.
“I want to present to international audiences something of the richness and complexity of Ethiopian culture. However, my artworks are not just about Ethiopia; they are about our shared human experience. American jazz is also a major influence and inspiration in my work,” said Wosene.
Offering an appropriate counterpoint to his seminal works will be young photographer Girma Berta, whose signature style of creating painting-like images of solitary figures set against vivid backdrops has rapidly garnered international acclaim.
The Instagram-savvy millennial artist effectively portrays the new Africa, one that is in the midst of a digital revolution.
“My work relies heavily upon this digital age, both through the technologies required for my artworks, as well as social media — which is not only a reality of the millennial African’s life, but has also provided me with a global audience,” he said. “We have a unique story to tell, our own personal narration of Ethiopian culture. And like many of my contemporaries, I seek to take back control of our narrative, and convey our own story to the world.”
Girma Berta, Moving Shadows II, X, (2017).
It will, no doubt, be a story that many aficionados at Art Dubai will want to hear.
As Rakeb put it: “The art world’s interest in art from Africa is a positive, albeit a belated development. And we believe that the discourse on African art and the global contemporary art movement would be incomplete without recognition of the immense amount and quality of contemporary expression coming out of Ethiopia.”
As growing international interest elevates African art on the global arena, the hope is, in this era of diversity and inclusiveness, that some of this art will “transcend the label and become sought-after on its merit, hence sustaining itself by integrating into the mainstream.”
The 12th edition of Art Dubai takes place March 21-24, 2018, at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai.
Wosene Worke Kosrof, My Favorite Things II, (2018).


How the Middle East reacted to the Game of Thrones finale

Updated 21 May 2019
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How the Middle East reacted to the Game of Thrones finale

  • Arabs join fans around the world at marking the end of the HBO series
  • The show became engrained in popular culture over eight epic years

DUBAI: After eight epic years, 47 Emmys and two dead dragons, “Game of Thrones” has said goodbye to devotees worldwide after having redefined weekly “event TV.”

Having been shown in 170 countries, “Game of Thrones” was the most expensive show ever, with a budget of $15 million per episode. 

The blood-spattered tale of noble families vying for the Iron Throne wrapped up on Monday with the 73rd and final episode of one of the most popular shows in TV history.

The final episode had some emotional and surprising scenes, so it kept me hooked.

Mohammed Mansour, an Egyptian student in the UAE

“I watched it on my phone as it premiered. Honestly, the show had kind of written itself into a corner, so I didn’t really think we’d go any further than what we already expected,” Ali Tirkawi, a 22-year-old American who lives in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News after watching the final episode.

“The finale pretty much boiled down to a horribly depressing epilogue about what the main characters want to do next. I feel that the show kind of robbed us of what we had grown to expect from it,” he said. “The whole sense of danger and anxiety, who’d perish, all that really just disappeared. If I could sum up my feeling toward the final episode: Disappointment.”

Both the show’s name and its now-famous tagline, “Winter is Coming,” spawned a plethora of memes that made their way into the global political discourse. 

US President Donald Trump famously alluded to the show in a warning to Iran last year. He posted an image of himself on Twitter with the line “Sanctions are coming” above “November 5.”

The TV-watching habits of millennials have undergone a radical transformation since the first episode aired in 2011. 

Streaming services have appeared on the scene to rival cable services, and the number of shows available to watch has nearly doubled.

One of the darkest and most controversial primetime series ever made, “Game of Thrones” has been the target of criticism over the years for senseless violence as a dramatic device. The scriptwriters brutalized women and killed children, all in glorious close-up.

The adult themes deterred neither the show’s fans nor the industry awards circuit, which saw fit to make the HBO show the most decorated fictional series in history. Season 6 was the first to move beyond the source material, George R. R. Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” novels, and carve its own path. Critics said it marked a return to form, but the shortened final two seasons have been more of a mixed bag, with many fans furious over what they consider poor writing and a rushed conclusion of the plot strands.

“The show meant a lot to me, spanning eight years of my life. I can easily recall each and every time I watched an episode,” he added.

Elia Mssawir, a UAE-based entertainment company executive

The Season 7 finale set an all-time US record for premium cable TV, with 16.5 million people watching live or streaming on the day of transmission, and 15 million more tuning in later. The biggest question of all, who would be sitting on the Iron Throne, was answered — sort of — on Monday.

While thousands of viewers aired their gripes on social media, as they did all season, plenty of others thought it was a fitting end.

While millions watched at home, thousands celebrated or mourned the show’s denouement in public places and backyards from London to Dubai. Among them was Mira Kerbage, a 22-year-old Lebanese student of marketing communications in the UK. 

“I felt overwhelmed with everything. I don’t know if this was just because it was the end of one of my favorite shows, or because the story ended but didn’t really end,” she told Arab News.

 

 

“It was bittersweet, so I felt sad and disappointed. It was like the end of an era. You feel empty,” she said.

“I watched it at 4 a.m. in my room, went to sleep at 6 a.m. and woke up at 8 a.m. to go to university.”

Cries of joy, sobs and applause followed the peaks and troughs of what many regarded as a poignant but so-so finale. 

The episode proved to be as divisive as the rest of Season 8. Chief among the controversies was the rapid descent into the mass-murdering madness of Emilia Clarke’s Daenerys Targaryen, arguably the lead character in an enormous ensemble that has called on the talents of such luminaries as Charles Dance, Sean Bean, Jim Broadbent and Diana Rigg.

OSN, which aired the show in the Middle East with English and Arabic subtitles, had marked the arrival of Season 8 with a social media competition calling on fans to unleash their creativity. 

“From fashion or design to baking, braiding or painting, use your talents to show your love for the Throne,” an OSN press release said in March.

Mohammed Mansour, an Egyptian student in the UAE, was surprised and happy, but also a bit disappointed after watching the finale. 

“Happy because it gave closure, disappointed in the way some characters met their fate. It doesn’t do them justice. But the final episode had some emotional and surprising scenes, so it kept me hooked,” he told Arab News.

“It was one of the best shows I’ve seen in my whole life, although the last two seasons weren’t as great.”

A petition calling for the final season to be remade has now passed 1.1 million signatures. 

In China, the show’s rights holder triggered outrage among legions of die-hard fans — some of whom took the morning off work to tune in — by mysteriously delaying its broadcast just before it was due to air. That did not stop fans from flocking online, with one dramatic twist provoking a discussion on the Twitter-like Weibo platform that was viewed more than 230 million times.

“It was even more intense than a football finale,” said Ewald Klautky, 52, one of about 200 fans who watched the final episode together in Los Angeles.

Elia Mssawir, a UAE-based entertainment company executive, watched the episode alone at home. “I really kind of enjoyed it, and it was mostly because of the unexpected turn of events. I loved the fact that they put every character in their place without wasting any time,” he told Arab News. “This was something many ‘Game of Thrones’ fans felt uncomfortable about, but I really enjoyed it. Not every series or movie has to have a happy ending,” he said. 

“The show meant a lot to me, spanning eight years of my life. I can easily recall each and every time I watched an episode,” he added. “I lived in three different countries during this time, and I took the show with me on the road. One time I was touring with an artist, and I made it my mission to get data to stream it on the bus while going to the next gig.”

The ending of “Game of Thrones” was all too much for its stars, including Sophie Turner, who first appeared as Sansa Stark as a young teenager. She wrote on Instagram of her character: “I fell in love with you at 13 and now 10 years on ... at 23 I leave you behind, but I will never leave behind what you’ve taught me.”