Artist interweaves feminist ideals with textiles

'Jungle #1' by artist Hoda Tawakol, from her collection 'Palm Trees,' on display at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde in Dubai. (Supplied)
Updated 01 January 2019
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Artist interweaves feminist ideals with textiles

  • Artist Hoda Tawakol has her first exhibit in Dubai
  • An exhibit about the ever-evolving feminism discourse

DUBAI: French-Egyptian artist Hoda Tawakol’s first Dubai exhibit, which is running at Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde until Jan. 3, is a timely contribution to the ever-evolving feminism discourse.

Tawakol, whose work has been featured at the gallery since November, was inspired by her experiences growing up in France, Germany and Egypt.

Tawakol has made a name for herself through the use of hand-dyed and sewn textile pieces, sculptures, fabric collages and works on paper.

Her work, which mimics female cycles of life in an attempt to deconstruct stereotypes, is inspired by the feminist movement of the 1970s.

In fact, interwoven within her artwork are feminist ideals and blatant critiques of patriarchy.

Like many, Tawakol wishes to quell the expectations placed on women.

Her collection, entitled “Dolls,” is an expression of anger at women being objectified.

In “Lures,” she uses a falconry hood, a tool normally used to calm the birds of prey, to symbolize the way in which men oppress powerful women they wish to subdue.

Her artwork is masterfully done. It is symbolic and almost interactive in a way that simple paintings cannot be.

The pieces are so eye-catching, indeed, mesmerizing, not least through her use of captivating color schemes, that they almost beckon a response.

The exhibition is named after the main piece on display, a tapestry of black and red-colored fabric from her series “Palm Trees.”

The piece features hand-dyed textiles in Tawakol’s signature style. The series, which she began in 2015, is inspired by her multi-cultural childhood.

“Palm trees make me nostalgic,” the artist said. “They symbolize the Egypt of the 1940s and 1950s, the era of glamor, the golden age that I didn’t experience. At the same age, my playground in Europe had another kind of palm grove I found in the Palmengarten, a botanical garden in Frankfurt in Germany.”


The UAE’s art scene isn’t imported, Emirati curator argues

Updated 2 min 36 sec ago
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The UAE’s art scene isn’t imported, Emirati curator argues

  • Several art platforms participated in the new segment
  • One of the artists said her piece is actually a collaboration with the public

ABU DHABI: This year, Art Dubai introduced a new segment into its program — the UAE NOW exhibit that showcased the country’s local independent, artist-run platforms.

The region’s largest art fair ran from March 20-23 and Arab News caught up with UAE NOW curator Munira Al-Sayegh to find out more about the push to showcase homegrown creativity.

“The UAE NOW section of Art Dubai is extremely important to me. It is a moment where we are looking at the cross-collaboration of grassroots platforms that have taken place out of the sheer idea of collaboration between creatives and it is extremely important to showcase this as a counter-narrative to the usual stereotypical idea that the UAE’s art scene is a very commercial art scene or one that is imported,” the curator said.

The participating platforms included Bait 15, Banat Collective, Jaffat el Aqlam, PAC (Public Art Collective) and Daftar Asfar. The platforms were invited to showcase their works and many ended up creating small, informal spaces that showed off the artists’ pieces in a cozy atmosphere. Bait 15’s booth featured a large mattress in the middle, where visitors could rest their weary feet, and the Banat Collective boasted draped chiffon on which passers-by could draw and doodle with chalk pastels.  

The piece by Saudi Arabia-based Palestinian artist Jana Ghalayini was a “collaboration with the public,” she told Arab News, adding that she was hoping to explore themes of identity and empowerment through the interactive installation.

For her part, co-founder of the Abu Dhabi-based Bait 15 studio Afra Al-Dhaheri was equally interested in opening up a dialogue.

“This is the first time that Art Dubai allows for community spaces to be present… I think this dialogue has to emerge one way or another, like, having the artist community speak,” she told Arab News.  

“Art is important for any society. It’s a register for the history of the society, the community and the times,” she added.