Shara Art Fair celebrates Saudi artists

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A number of paintings by Saudi artists.
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Omar Naseef and Mohammed Awlia, founders of Oil and Barrel.
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Updated 30 June 2016
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Shara Art Fair celebrates Saudi artists

For the second year running, The Saudi Art Council has organized and opened its doors for the Kingdom’s most influential art galleries to present some of the country’s leading local artists’ work. Shara Art Fair, opened on the 21st of Ramadan and running for five days, was held at the Saudi Art Council headquarters after the success of last year’s art fair. Sponsored by UBS, the world’s leading wealth manager, the sponsorship of the Shara Art Fair follows a successful collaboration between UBS and the Council during the 2015 art fairs that showcased the history and direction of contemporary visual arts in Saudi Arabia through a number of exhibitions, most prominent among them “21.39”, providing the public a unique chance to learn about the development of the visual art movement through the eyes of local artists. This year, it added a new feature for the art scene by having presented local food and furniture initiatives that made waves in the area; Medd Coffee and Roastry, Shelter Shoppe, Oil Barrel and Mashareq.
The participating galleries included Athr Art Gallery, Hafez Art Gallery, Cuadro Art Gallery and a silent auction held by Al-Mansouria Foundation, a foundation established by Princess Jawaher Bint Majed in support of creativity in the Kingdom. The gallery is set to encourage more Saudi artists to participate in the growing contemporary visual arts movement that has seen a great boom in the past few years and more galleries are set out to showcase their work for public viewing depicting Saudi culture and history through their eyes. Such an initiative not only encourages artists, but encourages the public to understand what Saudi artists portray through their canvases, sculptures, calligraphy, Islamic art and geometry and photographs, bringing together artists from across the Kingdom in one art space.
The space was divided according to the number of galleries partaking in the art fair and the number of artists showcasing their work this year was impressive with many varied pieces that surely caught the attention of newcomers and art lovers alike. To name a few from the field of Islamic calligraphy and geometric Islamic art, there’s Ahmad Angawi with his take on Hijazi patterns of “Al-Mangour” on glass and number talismans from Dana Awartani’s “The Hidden Qualities of Quantities”. Arwa AlNeami’s “spring camel” photographs in full blown vibrant colors, Ghada Al-Rabea’s pop art, Osama Esid’s “Erk Soos” and Moath AlOfi’s “Haramain” from his recent exhibit “Doors of Barlik” were all a hit with the visitors.
It was difficult to pass by and not stare in awe at the the intricate details of Izzat Batrawi’s “relief sculpture” with impressively fine and designed wood work , as was the neon installation by Majed Thobaiti depicting the ever so known arabic version “hhhh”.
There was an abundance of paintings displayed from various well-known and young up and coming artists, each painting with a significant concept of its own, each telling a story. There’s Tagreed Bagshi’s beautiful painting signifying the heroism of women and mysticism on a canvas aptly named “paradise”, a beautiful mix of collage and print in Garden 1 from Filwa Nazer’s Green Library Series. There was “The Ramadan Story” by Ola Hejazi, the vibrant work of the seven tawaf or circumambulations around the Kaaba series by Siddiqa Juma, Ammar Al-Attar’s five print series “salah” in an exquisite portrayal of the daily sacred ritual of prayer, as never seen before.
The Kingdom is seeing a new wave of art enthusiasm in all its forms with centers and galleries offering the best services to steer up and coming artists into the path they need to progress and evolve. Society is also opening up to the art movement, understanding the concept of art bit by bit and allowing a new contemporary wave to be displayed and appreciated.
Oil Barrel founders Mohammed Awlia and Omar Naseef were participating in the art fair as part of an initiative to support local brands as well as to integrate them with the art scene, a mix that sat well with Oil Barrel founders. “We enjoyed being a part of Shara Art Fair as it was also an opportunity for Oil Barrel to give its own rendition of the artistic history lesson through our version of Vision 2030. We chose a concept that was similar to the one Prince Mohammed bin Salman presented but through a hundred year timeline, vision 1930. It was a period of discovery and entrepreneurship, fast forward a hundred years later and the concept can be applied to the now.”
Oil Barrel’s corner of the art fair featured a centerpiece of stacked oil barrels with calligraphy work by artist Shaker Kashgari, a large mural by mother and daughter duo Siham Abdulgadir and Majdaline Bakr and original newspaper clippings from the 1930’s recreating a timeline on the very beginnings of the oil industry of the Kingdom. “Being part of Shara Art Fair also gave us the opportunity to test drive Oil Barrel’s latest furniture line, it was a success with lots of orders coming in. We literally recycle and reuse oil barrels in creative methods related to our brand,” said Mohammed Awlia.
Medd coffee and Roastery, a new favorite among Jeddawis was also a participant, serving their signature 100 percent organic, fair trade and freshly brewed specialty coffee, hot or cold of course, as well as sweets and snacks from local home businesses, an initiative they’ve been supporting since opening.
Shelter Shoppe, a concept store collaboration between husband and wife duo Faisal Sheraiff and Reem Basaad, was also a participant in the fair presenting home décor selected especially by the duo. “Shara Art Fair shared the same concept as the one we took up on ourselves to present in Shelter Shoppe, it was great being a part of such an amazing art movement. We choose pieces that are one of a kind. We handpick them ourselves and much to our pleasure, visitors were very pleased with our products and shared their delight as they browsed the area,” exclaimed Faisal Sheraiff. “We will definitely be participating more with The Saudi Art Council, the art lovers are exactly the target market we strive to attract to share our love for art.” Mashareq, a store that specializes specifically in traditional arts and crafts of the Islamic heritage, also debuted some of its magnificent wood work, handcrafted furniture and home accessories by Middle Eastern artisans. Their displays featured works that literally would take you decades back when woodwork was flaunted in homes, each uniquely crafted by the finest craftsmen.
The Saudi Art Council in partnership with the many galleries at the Shara Art Fair are helping artists in the Kingdom to come forward and showcase their work, simply by arranging art exhibits with exceptional concepts.

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Nadine Labaki, Rami Malek score Oscar nominations as race kicks off

Updated 22 January 2019
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Nadine Labaki, Rami Malek score Oscar nominations as race kicks off

DUBAI: The Oscar nominations were announced on Tuesday, with Lebanese director Nadine Labaki scoring a nomination for her film, “Capernaum.”

Meanwhile, American-Egyptian actor Rami Malek was nominated for “Leading Actor” for his role as Freddie Mercury in in Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody,” while breakout star Mahershala Ali scored a “Supporting Actor” nomination for his role in “Green Book.” Ali made history for being reported as the first Muslim actor to win an Oscar in 2017, for his role in "Moonlight."

Actors Tracee Ellis Ross and Kumail Nanjiani announced the nominations at 5:20 a.m. in Los Angeles, as film critics, movie stars and producers and directors across the world set their alarms early to catch the eagerly-awaited submissions for Hollywood's most coveted awards.

The show will take place on Feb. 24 and will see Hollywood’s cream of the crop go head to head.

Labaki’s “Capernaum” was widely expected to be nominated as it has been well received by international critics.

The gritty film, which won the 2018 Cannes Jury Prize, centers on a poverty-stricken child who sues his parents in protest of the life they have given him. Last year’s Oscar entry from Lebanon, Ziad Doueiri’s “The Insult,” also earned a nomination.

One of the most buzzed-about foreign language films this year, however, is “Roma” from Alfonso Cuaron — a black and white ode to his childhood in 1970s Mexico City that took home two Golden Globes, including best director.

The film was produced by streaming giant Netflix, which has come under criticism from its more traditional rivals for its strategy of massive online distribution of original content — and screenings in only a few cinemas.

“Roma” is the first Netflix film to vie for glory in major Oscar categories.

It was also nominated in the coveted “Best Film” category, alongside “Black Panther”

“BlacKkKlansman,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “The Favorite,” “Green Book,” “Roma” and “A Star is Born.”

Last year, the awards season was marked by the Harvey Weinstein scandal, and the birth of the #MeToo and Time's Up movements against sexual misconduct and harassment in the workplace.

This year, multiple controversies are plaguing the Oscars — none of them related to last year's bombshell.

In August, the Academy — under fire for being too elitist — announced it would add a “best popular film” award. But many saw the new category as a booby prize for blockbusters like “Black Panther” that would keep them out of contention for top honors.

The plan was scrapped a month later.

Then actor-comedian Kevin Hart had perhaps the briefest tenure ever as Oscars host — a few days. He withdrew after homophobic tweets he had written years ago sparked a crippling backlash on social media.

Of course, on Oscars night, the focus will revert to the nominees and the red carpet glamor.

Key Nominations

Best Film

‘Black Panther’

‘BlacKkKlansman’

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

‘The Favorite’

‘Green Book’

‘Roma’

‘A Star is Born’

Vice

Best Foreign Language Film  

‘Capernaum’ (Lebanon)

‘Cold War’ (Poland)

‘Never Look Away’ (Germany)

‘Roma’ (Mexico)

‘Shoplifters’ (Japan)

Best Actor

Christian Bale, "Vice"

Bradley Cooper, "A Star Is Born"

Willem Dafoe, "At Eternity's Gate"

Rami Malek, "Bohemian Rhapsody"

Viggo Mortensen, "Green Book"

Best Actress 

Yalitza Aparicio, "Roma"

Glenn Close, "The Wife"

Olivia Colman, "The Favourite"

Lady Gaga, "A Star Is Born"

Melissa McCarthy, "Can You Ever Forgive Me?"