First Van Gogh in 20 years to go under hammer in Paris auction

The painting "Raccommodeuses de filet dans les dunes" by Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh is presented at Artcurial auction house in Paris on March 28, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 28 March 2018
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First Van Gogh in 20 years to go under hammer in Paris auction

PARIS: The first Van Gogh painting to go under the hammer in France in more than two decades was unveiled Wednesday.
“Women Mending Nets in the Dunes,” which the Dutch artist painted early in his career at Scheveningen near The Hague, is expected to go for around five million euros ($6 million) when it is auctioned in June.
But with the art market booming, and prices for artists like Van Gogh rocketing, experts said it was hard to predict exactly when the bidding would stop.
The scene dates from the same period in 1882 when Van Gogh painted “View of the Sea at Scheveningen,” which was stolen by the Italian Camorra organized crime syndicate from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam in 2002 and discovered in Naples in 2016 thanks to a tip-off from a suspected drug trafficker.
The oil on paper, which belongs to a European collector, also graced the walls of the Van Gogh Museum for eight years after being previously on show in Montreal.
Bruno Jaubert, of auction house Artcurial, said the work comes from very early in Van Gogh’s career, when he was painting working class people in his homeland.
“He had only started painting two years before,” he told AFP.
Jaubert described the sale as an art market event, “with fewer and fewer Van Goghs coming to the market.”
The world record for a Van Gogh was for his “Portrait of Dr. Gachet,” which sold for $82.5 million in 1990.
“Women Mending Nets in the Dunes” will be sold on June 4.


Cirque du Soleil in Saudi Arabia: The perfect tribute to a rich culture

Updated 25 September 2018
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Cirque du Soleil in Saudi Arabia: The perfect tribute to a rich culture

  • Cirque du Soleil created a spectacular show in Riyadh
  • They paid tribute to Saudi culture and heritage

RIYADH: The circus — a place that is almost synonymous with joy and delight. Since time immemorial, circuses have been places of celebration and glee, and few as much as the premier name in the industry: Cirque du Soleil.

The show has had a devoted fan in me since 2006, when I attended a performance of their production “Quidam” and my definition of the word “circus” was turned upside-down. Their unique approach to art, performance, costumes and music has secured their status as a household name and a benchmark for all other circus shows to be measured against.

On Sunday night, Saudi Arabia’s National Day, the circus brought their incredible acrobatics to Riyadh’s King Fahad Stadium and it turned out to be a night to remember.



Prior to the event, Cirque’s Vice President of Creation Daniel Fortin offered little in the way of spoilers but hinted that we would see something the likes of which we never had before. With the promises of exclusive new acts, music, costumes and stage tricks piquing my excitement, I joined a throng of green-and white-clad spectators flooding the stadium. Performing to a sold-out crowd, the show kicked off at exactly 8.30 p.m. and the magic truly began.

Barely five minutes into the show, something stole over me as I settled into the rhythm of the music, something I saw flickering over the faces of those in the crowd around me: Recognition. We were seeing ourselves, our identity, echoed back at us, but with a twist. We saw ourselves through someone else’s eyes — someone respectful and admiring.



As a Saudi youth today, it has become an unfortunately common occurrence to face negativity from various outsiders, born of ignorance or fear. It has become dreary and repetitive to have to continually defend my people and my culture from those who have no wish to understand us.

But at this show? I saw my country once more through the eyes of an outsider, but this time, it was different. I saw my culture and my heritage lauded, celebrated, delicately fused with that tangible Cirque du Soleil flair. The attention to detail was careful, almost loving, but also daring and outlandish. It was a glorious fusion of classic Saudi aesthetics with the ethereal, bizarre beauty of Cirque du Soleil.


The symbolism was not always obvious, sometimes it was subtle, constrained to the beat of a drum or hidden in a snatch of song. Other times, it was blatant and bold, in the sloping hump of an elegantly clumsy camel costume, or the billowing of the Bedouin Big Top in the gentle breeze. And yet, unmistakeably, I felt the Saudi influences in every note of the performance. It felt like an homage, and yet it did nothing to diminish its own identity. It remained unquestionably a Cirque du Soleil performance, only below the usual circus frippery, there was a ribbon of something else that lay coiled beneath the surface. Something bright, vibrant green. Saudi green.

The spectacle rounded off with an astonishing display of fireworks, so plentiful that for a moment, the sky glowed bright as day. To me, each one felt like a promise fulfilled. A dream achieved. A miracle witnessed. Here, on my own home soil, it was the perfect tribute to a rich and vivid culture.