And it remains… God's message with Nasser Al Salem

And it remains… God's message with Nasser Al Salem
Updated 08 August 2012

And it remains… God's message with Nasser Al Salem

And it remains… God's message with Nasser Al Salem

Saudi Arabia has found its first ‘conceptual Islamic artist’ by most means: Nasser Al Salem.
Last week, Athr Gallery unveiled his first solo exhibition ‘And it remains…’ — a further testimony of Al Salem’s allegiance to translating forms of Islamic text into contemporary forms of artistic interpretation.
He’s been a constant participating figure in many international fairs for the past two years since his emergence onto the art scene, representing himself as the staunch hand of contemporary Islamic art from Saudi Arabia.
While two of his older works ‘Zamzam’ and ‘Kaaba’ — a series of seven silkscreen prints — have been hosted at previous exhibitions, the former has been acquired into the collection of the British Museum. With new works exhibited at ‘And it remains…’, Al Salem has shed a couple more layers of his shell to claim unconquered ground in the field of conceptual Islamic art in Saudi Arabia.
‘Zamzam’, which is a calligraphic representation of both the structure and the word, is indeed a work of artistic genius. The script in this work, which can be read in all directions, only adds to the ingenuity of his conceptual analysis, at once echoing the celebration of God’s bounty and wondrous manifestation.
The flow of the script in ‘Zamzam’, according to the artist, also indicates the pace of running by Hajar (mother of Prophet Ismail) between the hills of Al-Safa and Al-Marwa in search of water for her infant son (a ritual commemorated by millions of the faithful in the holy pilgrimage to Makkah) which led to the revelation of the holy Zamzam well. According to some traditions, this well was sprung by the striking wing/heel of Angel Gabriel — feeding millions of pilgrims today since antiquity without any sign of exhaust.
An eight-point star in the middle of the script is a reference to the throne of God, while the calligraphic text in its fluid form and style conforms to the cycle of infinity — of both the bounty of God and his expansive universe.
‘God is alive, He shall not die’ is a series of three pop (and the most ‘popular’) neon installations in colors of blue, green and white; referring to the trinity of sky, earth and the purity of the creator’s reign both above and below.
‘He likes not those who commit excess’ — a wooden installation in the likes of a barcode — is truly a reminder for us as a nation and as a religious community headed toward vulgarly excessive mass consumerism in both material and manner. Moreover, the intended reprimand stands just and appropriate for the month of Ramadan when expenses quite unnaturally and surprisingly quadruple in comparison to the rest of the year (thank you, Nasser!).
Kul (‘everything/all’; one of my personal favorites) is a series of three silkscreen works that quite literally provides an eyeful for the unprepared eye and mind (Trippy visuals much!).
While the heady optical illusions might appeal to those of a younger disposition in terms of aesthetics and rhetoric, the rippling effect achieved to reiterate the aspect of God’s infinite creation might as well lead you to ponder over the everlasting omnipresence of the creator, if nothing else (as you look away).
This unexpectedly bold attempt by the shy and modest Al Salem deserves a loud applause.
“It’s sometimes just a bit difficult translating classic religious texts and messages into contemporary forms of art. I have to represent the meanings very well, without having the contemporary elements of the work overpowering the idea. They have to complement each other very well,” said Al Salem.
“I have to continually go back to references, do a lot of research. It’s a responsibility but I’m very proud of it. It allows me to introduce new concepts — religious and social,” he shared further.
While some of his other works like ‘La illaha illa Allah’(there is no God but Allah), ‘Sukoon’ (peace), ‘Elm Aleem’ (the All-Knowing), ‘Khair’ (goodwill), ‘Rahma’ (mercy) and ‘Barakah’ (blessings) reflect Al Salem’s classic calligraphic prowess, I’d rather he impress us with many more of his conceptual religious power-works which naturally come as second-nature to him (artistically, at least).
“There are so many concepts in Islam that I have yet to explore. I’m not done yet. I have no reason right now to move on to anything else,” Al Salem revealed.
For now, Nasser, you have provided us an art-ful of lessons that will linger not just for this month of Ramadan but for the remainder of the year. Hopefully.
The exhibition ‘And it remains…’ is currently running at Athr Gallery until Aug. 30th.
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Email: [email protected]

 


Priyanka Chopra teams up with chef behind popular Dubai restaurant

Priyanka Chopra is launching a restaurant called Sona in New York. File/AFP
Priyanka Chopra is launching a restaurant called Sona in New York. File/AFP
Updated 07 March 2021

Priyanka Chopra teams up with chef behind popular Dubai restaurant

Priyanka Chopra is launching a restaurant called Sona in New York. File/AFP

DUBAI: Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas has teamed up with chef Hari Nayak, the culinary talent behind Dubai’s Masti eatery, to launch an Indian restaurant called Sona in New York, she announced on Instagram on Saturday.

“I’m thrilled to present to you SONA, a new restaurant in NYC that I poured my love for Indian food into. SONA is the very embodiment of timeless India and the flavors I grew up with,” Chopra poste d on Instagram.

“The kitchen is helmed by the incredible Chef @harinayak, a masterful talent, who has created the most delicious and innovative menu, taking you on a food journey through my amazing country. SONA is opening later this month, and I can’t wait to see you there! This endeavor would not have been possible without the leadership of my friends Maneesh Goyal and David Rabin. Thank you to our designer Melissa Bowers and the rest of the team for realizing this vision so clearly,” she added.

The new outlet is a collaboration with restauranteur David Rabin and entrepreneur Maneesh Goyal.

In January, Chopra kickstarted her own hair care line. Named Anomaly, the brand is vegan, eco-friendly and in the affordable price bracket.


Britney Spears’ Mideast-born beau Sam Asghari reveals how the couple met

Britney Spears and Sam Asghari met in 2016. File/AFP
Britney Spears and Sam Asghari met in 2016. File/AFP
Updated 07 March 2021

Britney Spears’ Mideast-born beau Sam Asghari reveals how the couple met

Britney Spears and Sam Asghari met in 2016. File/AFP

DUBAI: In a new interview with Forbes, US-Iranian actor and fitness enthusiast Sam Asghari opened up about the beginnings of his relationship with US popstar Britney Spears.

The 27-year-old met the “Baby, One More Time” singer in 2016 during a music video shoot for “Slumber Party,” but he admitted that he was hesitant about being in the clip.

“I wanted to do TV, I wanted to do film,” he told the publication. “I didn’t want to… be known as a music video actor, but a good friend of mine was working on a project and they referred me to the team that was picking out the leading role for ‘Slumber Party.’”

"My girlfriend now, at the time, personally picked my picture and she wanted me to be cast in the music video," he continued, referring to Spears.


DJ Khaled gets candid about extreme fear of flying in video shot before takeoff

US-Palestinian DJ Khaled’s opens up about flying fears in latest video on Instagram
Updated 07 March 2021

DJ Khaled gets candid about extreme fear of flying in video shot before takeoff

US-Palestinian DJ Khaled’s opens up about flying fears in latest video on Instagram

DUBAI: In a world of perfect Instagram shots where celebrities rarely reveal their fears, it’s rather refreshing to see US-Palestinian DJ Khaled’s latest video on Instagram, in which he is extremely anxious before taking off on a private jet, while the women of his family, as well as the pilot, urge him to calm down.

The video shows Khaled questioning the pilot about the flight path, as well as potential turbulence and ends with footage of the superstar DJ kneeling on the floor of the jet with his head on a seat in a bid to avoid looking out of the window.

“I don’t like to fly when it rains or when it cloudy. Today I couldn’t see the sky. So had some real talk with (the) pilot. (a) great pilot and honest, people don’t realize to make these big anthems the mission to get it done it’s not just working in the studio so much more that comes with it,” he captioned the video on Instagram.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by DJ KHALED (@djkhaled)

Khaled’s two sons, Asahd and Aalam, were also on the jet that seemed to be heading to Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas.

It’s not the first time Khaled has opened up about his debilitating fear of flying, however.

He previously revealed that he overcame a decade-long fear of flying in 2017.

“That’s the only fear I had in my life,” DJ Khaled told E! News at the time, “just being in a plane and if there’s any turbulence. I just didn’t feel comfortable. I had a lot of bad anxiety, and he helped me overcome that.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by DJ KHALED (@djkhaled)

“Anytime I was on the road,” Khaled said, “I would fly him and I would take the bus. My son’s on the plane, but I’m driving [and] taking two to three days to get somewhere and I’m saying to myself, ‘My son can fly. I gotta fly (sic).’”

“It really touched my heart and put tears in my eyes,” he said of having to travel apart from his son. “I had to go on the road and when I would FaceTime him, he knew I’d be gone. So, I’m like, ‘You know what? We’re going to start flying together.’”

Khaled’s latest video, posted on Saturday, shows combatting a fear of flying is a long process — but considering his jet-set lifestyle, he seems to be in it for the long haul.


Amy Poehler’s high-school comedy ‘Moxie’ calls out toxic masculinity

‘Moxie’ is now streaming on Netflix. Supplied
‘Moxie’ is now streaming on Netflix. Supplied
Updated 07 March 2021

Amy Poehler’s high-school comedy ‘Moxie’ calls out toxic masculinity

‘Moxie’ is now streaming on Netflix. Supplied

LONDON: There were many things to love about “Parks and Recreation” – but one of the most obvious was that it starred, unusually, an eternally upbeat, yet likeable protagonist. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Amy Poehler, who played the irrepressible Leslie Knope in “Parks & Rec,” and the “cool mom” in cult classic “Mean Girls,” brings a similar positivity to Netflix high-school comedy “Moxie,” which marks her second directorial outing.

Vivian Carter (Hadley Robinson) is a smart, switched-on student who already longs to leave behind her clique-y high school for what she believes will be the more mature world of college. Vivian flies under the radar, keeping her head down and letting the inequality of high school pass her by. After all, why fight a system that can’t be changed, right?

Well, not quite. When new student Lucy (Alycia Pascual-Peña) draws the unwanted attention of stereotypically obnoxious jock Mitchell Wilson (Patrick Schwarzenegger), something shifts for Vivian. Spurred on by her mother’s rebellious past, Vivian starts a zine – Moxie. In the pages of the guerrilla pamphlet, she calls out the toxic, chauvinistic masculinity that permeates the school, and lambasts the authorities (typified by the spineless principal Shelly, who just wants everyone to get along and not generate any paperwork). Before you know it, the Moxie movement has swept across the campus, drawing support — and no shortage of ire.

It’s a curious mix of feel-good empowerment, cutesy teen film, and stirring call-to-action. Supplied

Poehler is a gifted comic actress — and her cameo as Vivian’s mum gives her a couple of the movie’s funniest moments vv but from the director’s chair, she opts to dial back the laughs somewhat. There are some smile-inducing moments, and the movie deftly flits from teenage angst to meet-cute and back again. What’s more (and to Poehler’s credit), “Moxie” doesn’t linger on the stereotypical beats of a teen rom-com, but nor does it shy away from highlighting the darker, seedier underbelly of the high-school system in the US. It’s a curious mix of feel-good empowerment, cutesy teen film, and stirring call-to-action. Much like it’s lead character, “Moxie” is difficult to define, but easy to like.


Osama bin Laden’s son takes up painting

Osama bin Laden’s son takes up painting
Updated 07 March 2021

Osama bin Laden’s son takes up painting

Osama bin Laden’s son takes up painting
  • Omar’s works include landscapes of the mountains of Tora Bora in Afghanistan
  • His creations including vivid depictions of the US, a country he has never visited

LONDON: Osama bin Laden’s son Omar has reportedly taken up painting as a method of coping with lockdowns introduced to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Omar, the 39-year-old fourth son of the former Al-Qaeda leader, lives in Normandy in northern France with his wife Zaina, a painter from Cheshire in the UK.
His creations including vivid depictions of the US, a country he has never visited and against which his father waged a terrorist insurgency for many years, including the 9/11 attacks, culminating in his assassination in 2011.
Omar’s works also include landscapes of the mountains of Tora Bora in Afghanistan, where his father hid from US forces for many years.
He told Vice News that he had suffered for many years with post-traumatic stress disorder, following a childhood that saw him uprooted from his family home outside Jeddah to resettle in Sudan and war-torn Afghanistan as his father pursued his campaigns.
Omar later rejected his father and left Afghanistan following his experiences of the conflict there.
“I want the world to learn that I have grown; that I am comfortable within myself for the first time in my life; that the past is the past and one must learn to live with what has gone by,” he said. “One must forgive if not forget, so that one may be at peace with one’s emotions.”