From Jeddah to White City, curator Wejdan Reda has big dreams

‘Every Second In Between’ in London’s White City. (Tim Bowditch)
Updated 05 June 2018
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From Jeddah to White City, curator Wejdan Reda has big dreams

  • Wejdan Reda is one of seven curators behind the fantastic displays created by South Korean artist Kyung Hwa Shon
  • The art installationsi nclude vivid abstract designs placed across the façade and open seating areas of a five-story building

LONDON: It’s a long way from Jeddah to White City, but for Saudi national Wejdan Reda this part of London will always be special.
Reda is one of seven curators behind the fantastic displays created by South Korean artist Kyung Hwa Shon, titled “Every Second In Between,” that are currently adding a shot of color and vibrancy to the area.
The art installations, distributed across various new public spaces in White City, include vivid abstract designs placed across the façade and open seating areas of a five-story building. It continues with a large scale digital animation of the design.

The project forms part of Reda’s Royal College of Art Master’s degree in Curating Contemporary Art. She and her fellow curators chose Shon from 50 artists who answered their open call. 

White City, an ethnically and economically diverse area, is named after the white marble clad pavilions of major exhibitions held in the district at the onset of the 20th C. In 1908, the area hosted the summer Olympics and other claims to fame include having been home to the BBC and its iconic Television Center and the stadium hoted the 1908 Olympics and was the temporary home to Queens Park Rangers Football Club.
“It touches upon the sense of fragmentation and the chaotic aspect of White City, but also the beauty that exists within this chaos,” Reda told Arab News of the artist’s work.
Shon is a PhD researcher in painting at the Royal College of Art. In her practice, she explores urban life experience using a wide range of mediums including installation, painting, drawing, sound, video and text.
Reda will return to Jeddah after completing her Royal College of Art Master’s degree in curating contemporary art and is keen to put her studies to good use.
“I will focus on working with artists. I hope to co-curate temporary public art exhibitions… It’s a very exciting time to be working in the arts in Saudi Arabia. There are a lot of opportunities, especially with the support of the government and surge in funding dedicated to the arts and cultural sector,” she said.
She is proud that Saudi female artists are raising their profile within the Kingdom.
“Around the world the exposure of female artists needs more work, but in Saudi Arabia we are doing well with that,” she said.
“Many people in Saudi Arabia have supported me throughout my journey and I am very appreciative of that. My husband and my father have also provided me with an incredible support system. The tutors have been amazing and this whole experience has allowed me to further expand my knowledge in the curatorial field,” she added.

She also singled out Jeddah-based Spaces of Design for Advertising Est. (Block Studio) which sponsored the project’s website and key sponsor, White City Place developer, Mitsui Fudosan | Stanhope, which has extended the display of the art work to three months from the original seven days, a sure sign of its success.


Stolen Picasso unearthed by ‘Indiana Jones of art’

Updated 26 March 2019
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Stolen Picasso unearthed by ‘Indiana Jones of art’

  • The 1938 masterpiece entitled ‘Portrait of Dora Maar’, also known as ‘Buste de Femme (Dora Maar)’, was handed to an insurance company earlier this month
  • Arthur Brand won world fame in 2015 after finding ‘Hitler’s Horses’

THE HAGUE: A Dutch art detective dubbed the “Indiana Jones of the Art World” has struck again, finding a Picasso painting worth €25 million stolen from a Saudi sheikh’s yacht on the French Riviera in 1999.
Arthur Brand said he had handed back the 1938 masterpiece entitled “Portrait of Dora Maar,” also known as “Buste de Femme (Dora Maar)” to an insurance company earlier this month.
The discovery of the rare portrait of Maar, one of Pablo Picasso’s most influential mistresses, is the culmination of a four-year investigation into the burglary on the luxury yacht Coral Island, as she lay anchored in Antibes.
Two decades after its theft and with no clues to its whereabouts, the French police were stumped — and the portrait, which once hung in the Spanish master’s home until his death in 1973, was feared lost forever.
But after a four-year trail which led through the Dutch criminal underworld, two intermediaries turned up on Brand’s Amsterdam doorstep 10 days ago with the missing picture.
“They had the Picasso, now valued at €25 million wrapped in a sheet and black rubbish bags with them,” Brand said.
It was yet another success for Brand, who hit the headlines last year for returning a stolen 1,600-year-old mosaic to Cyprus.
He won world fame in 2015 after finding “Hitler’s Horses,” two bronze statues made by Nazi sculptor Joseph Thorak — a discovery about which he had a book out earlier this month.
The theft of the Picasso, valued at around seven million dollars at the time, baffled French police, sent the super-rich scurrying to update boat security and prompted the offer of a big reward.
In 2015, Brand first got wind that a “Picasso stolen from a ship” was doing the rounds in the Netherlands, although “at that stage I didn’t know which one exactly.”
It turned out that the painting had entered the criminal circuit, where it circled for many years “often being used as collateral, popping up in a drug deal here, four years later in an arms deal there,” said.
It took several years and a few dead ends before pinning down that it was actually the Picasso stolen from a Saudi billionaire’s yacht as the mega-cruiser was being refurbished, Brand said.
Brand put out word on the street that he was looking for “Buste de Femme (Dora Maar)” and in early March he struck gold.
“Two representatives of a Dutch businessman contacted me, saying their client had the painting. He was at his wits’ end,” said Brand.
“He thought the Picasso was part of a legitimate deal. It turns out the deal was legitimate — the method of payment was not,” Brand laughed.
Brand called the Dutch and French police — who had since closed the case — and who said they would not prosecute the current owner.
“Since the original theft, the painting must have changed hands at least 10 times,” said Brand.
Brand said he had to act quickly, otherwise the painting may have disappeared back into the underworld.
“I told the intermediaries, it’s now or never, because the painting is probably in a very bad state... We have to act as soon as we can.”
Then, just over a week ago, Brand’s doorbell rang at his modest apartment in Amsterdam, and the intermediaries were there with the painting.
After unwrapping it, “I hung the Picasso on my wall for a night, thereby making my apartment one of the most expensive in Amsterdam for a day,” Brand laughed.
The following day, a Picasso expert from New York’s Pace Gallery flew in to verify its authenticity at a high-security warehouse in Amsterdam.
Also present was retired British detective Dick Ellis, founder of Scotland Yard’s art and antiquities squad, representing an unnamed insurance company.
“There is no doubt that this is the stolen Picasso,” Ellis, who now runs a London-based art risk consultancy business, said.
Ellis is famous for recovering many stolen artworks including Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” lifted from the National Gallery of Norway in 1994.
“It’s not only the public interest to recover stolen works of art,” he said. “You are also reducing the amount of collateral that is circling the black market and funds criminality.”
“Buste de Femme” is back in possession of the insurance company, which now had to decide the next steps, Brand and Ellis said.