Muse: Artist Dana Awartani on the universality of art

Saudi artist Dana Awartani talks to Arab News about curiosity and discipline. (Photo courtesy: Abdullah Al-Shehri)
Updated 21 July 2018
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Muse: Artist Dana Awartani on the universality of art

JEDDAH: The Saudi contemporary artist on curiosity, discipline, and the universality of art.

What I love about traditional Islamic art is that the underlying core — the language and geometry — transcends borders, it’s the same visual language used from China across the world to Spain, so it has a very unifying quality.

People who’ve never met me and look at my early works, which were more specifically looking at sacred art, think I’m calm and collected — especially since I work with such intricate details — but in actuality I’m the total opposite. I’m all over the place and scattered, but my art brings me peace and is my therapy. Focusing on art calms me down. I’m just like every other person going through everyday life, trying to find peace in this world.

As an artist, I’m always curious, always wanting to know more and because of this inquisition, you go through a constant evolution. I’m my own worst critic. I push myself very hard, but I’m very happy with my progress.

A journalist once approached me at an exhibition and, when he realized I wasn’t speaking fluent Arabic, used me as an example of why you shouldn’t send Saudi girls to study abroad. That infuriated me. I was really offended. I am who I am because I’ve lived and studied abroad.

I speak a universal language. Even if you don’t understand it, you can always appreciate its beauty. I believe in the beauty of art.

I have faced creative blocks. I have the form and I know the medium but I’m lost as to how I want to use it. Or vice-versa — I know what I want to say but I’m constantly at a loss as to how to say it. Speaking to other artists or curators can help, but I usually rely on my artistic intuition and research… visiting galleries and being with nature. Sometimes, I just have to wait it out and try to be proactive and not too hard on myself.

Being an artist requires discipline. You’re basically self-employed. You need to be committed; put in enough time for the work, invest in an education, be constantly present in your work. Being an artist is a lifestyle. It’s not a job.


Sony Music ends contract with US singer R. Kelly

Updated 19 January 2019
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Sony Music ends contract with US singer R. Kelly

  • The singer of ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ fame — who recently announced a new album — has seen his reputation more and more seriously hard hit
  • Spotify announced in May it would drop the singer from its curated ‘playlists’

NEW YORK: Sony Music has called it quits with embattled singer R. Kelly, ending his contract with subsidiary RCA after a documentary aired accusing him of repeated cases of sexual abuse, media reports said Friday.
While Variety and Billboard reported the breakup, Sony Music did not immediately confirm it when contacted by AFP.
One woman who sued R. Kelly, accusing him of sexual battery, knowingly infecting her with a sexually transmitted disease and false imprisonment, also says he has threatened her.
Women’s rights attorney Gloria Allred told reporters on Monday that her client Faith Rodgers, 20, faced “efforts to intimidate and retaliate” from Kelly after she filed the lawsuit now pending in New York’s Supreme Court.
And just after Rodgers testified in the documentary “Surviving R. Kelly” that aired this month, her lawyers say Kelly and his team created a Facebook page — which the social media giant removed within hours — seeking to discredit accusers including Rodgers, posting “private” photos of her.
But the singer of “I Believe I Can Fly” fame — who recently announced a new album — has seen his reputation more and more seriously hard hit.
Calls for a boycott gathered pace in some measure thanks to the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements and via the #MuteRKelly hashtag on Twitter.
Spotify announced in May it would drop the singer from its curated “playlists.”
The last straw was the broadcast in early January of “Surviving R. Kelly,” a documentary in which several women accused the singer and producer, 52, of having sex with girls under the age of 16, and of having surrounded themselves with women whom he made sex slaves.