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

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 Sky is Pink’: Priyanka Chopra disappoints, Zaira Wasim shines

Farhan Akhtar and Priyanka Chopra Jonas star in the film. (AFP)
Updated 13 October 2019

‘The Sky is Pink’: Priyanka Chopra disappoints, Zaira Wasim shines

CHENNAI: Director Shonali Bose may well be termed the “mistress of misery.” Her characters, invariably women, have been suffering souls.

Whether it be in “Amu,” set in the aftermath of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, or “Margarita with a Straw” and its story of a teenager with cerebral palsy, Bose’s protagonists have been largely unhappy.

Her latest feature, “The Sky is Pink” — unnecessarily long at 159 minutes — is based on the real-life tale of a girl who dies at an early age from complications arising out of an immune-deficiency illness. Aisha (Zaira Wasim) tells us not only her own sad story, but also that of her parents, Aditi (Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and Niren (Farhan Akhtar).

Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Farhan Akhtar attended "The Sky Is Pink" premiere during the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. (AFP)

When Aditi falls pregnant, she has already lost a child to the disease, but religious compulsion pushes her to go ahead. Predictably, the baby girl, Aisha, develops the same problem. The parents, who live in New Delhi, rush her to London. Since they cannot afford the treatment, which involves a bone-marrow transplant, Niren broadcasts a plea from a radio station that raises a large amount of money.

But years later, the bubbly Aisha falls seriously ill, and the effect of her decline on her brother, Ishan (Rohit Saraf), and her parents makes up rest of the plot.

“The Sky is Pink” essentially explores the way marriages fall apart after a child gets sick. But Bose weaves into this storyline several distracting features, including Ishan’s budding love affair, which is rocked every time there is crisis in Aisha's life.

Bose’s film could be compared to Mehdi M. Barsaoui’s debut, “A Son.” Set in Tunisia in 2011 after the “Jasmine Revolution,” it also deals with a couple’s turmoil after their son is shot and wounded by a sniper. Barsaoui intelligently scripts how the couple crack under the pressure and their relationship begins to totter. There is not a single scene that is at odds with the plot.

In contrast, “The Sky is Pink” digresses into marital jealousy and a string of dramatically charged moments, diluting the core theme.

Akhtar, who is an excellent actor, seems out of sorts in this setting, while Chopra Jonas fails to convey a mother’s emotional pain and seems far too dolled up to adequately portray a character in torment. In fact, the only high point is the fine acting by Wasim.