Arab artists pay homage to Notre Dame in new exhibition

Arab artists pay homage to Notre Dame in new exhibition
New works are a reaction to the fire in France’s most-famous cathedral earlier this year. (Supplied)
Updated 30 September 2019

Arab artists pay homage to Notre Dame in new exhibition

Arab artists pay homage to Notre Dame in new exhibition

PARIS: Millions around the world were in a state of shock when Paris’ beloved Notre Dame Cathedral was engulfed in flames last April. Having survived the turmoil of the French Revolution and two World Wars, the revered 850-year-old Gothic-style monument suffered the collapse of its spiral and wooden roof and damage to its high altar. One commentator wrote: “The very heart of France and the soul of Europe have been suddenly and viciously ripped out.”

The day after the blaze broke out, Jack Lang — president of Paris’ Insitut du Monde Arabe (IMA) — joined forces with the French-Lebanese art collector and champion of Arab artists Claude Lemand to set up a tribute to Notre Dame from Arab artists. Deeply saddened by the damage caused by the fire, Lemand started contacting artist friends, to see if they would be willing to contribute commemorative works of art.




Azzawi, Notre-Dame, 2019. (Supplied)

“When I was watching this tragedy unfold on television, it reminded me of the beginning of the civil war in Lebanon,” Lemand told Arab News. “Notre Dame is a historical building that doesn’t belong just to French and European civilization, but to all of humanity. The Arab artist — like his European counterpart — has the right to convey his feelings and admiration towards this monument.”

Running through December 20, “Arab Artists’ Tribute to Notre Dame” showcases four new artworks created by contemporary artists from the Arab diaspora in response to the fire and its aftermath.

The renowned Iraqi artist Dia Al-Azzawi is one of them. His symbolic acrylic-on-3D-wood panel portrays a profile of the cathedral guarded by a carved-out cross — standing out in the midst of a red mass that not only represents the fire, but also rebirth.

Another contribution comes in the form of an abstract painting by the French-Moroccan painter Najia Mehadji. Completed in a single broad brushstroke, the painting’s dominating blue (a color associated with the Virgin Mary) swirl hints at the shape of the Madonna and Child statue that stands inside Notre Dame.




Najia Mehadji, Notre-Dame, 2019. (Supplied)

Montpellier-based Mohamed Lekleti’s mixed-media canvas is a conceptual work potraying “the duality of the world,” divided into two halves: good and evil. Lekleti’s work reminds the viewer of life’s inevitability, and to accept that events are sometimes beyond human control, but that taking action — no matter how slow or small — to heal wounds is important, as emphasized by the artist’s depiction of a hand sewing a thread.

Syrian figurative artist Boutros Al-Maari contributes a circular canvas illustrating fictional characters from Victor Hugo’s iconic novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” surrounding the burning cathedral. Inspired by his own heritage, Al-Maari depicts Hugo as a ‘hakawati’ — a storyteller in Damascus’ old cafés. It is a scene of both anguish and hope; of men crying in disbelief and the Virgin Mary being consoled with the offering of a flower.




Boutros Al-Maari, Notre-Dame, 2019. (Supplied)

According to Lemand, a second part of the exhibition will materialize early next year, exhibiting a new roster of artists.

“The goal of this exhibition is neither political nor financial,” he explained. “We just wanted to give an opportunity for Arab artists to present a brighter image of the region — far from the violence, the killing, and religious strife that have in recent years given the world a miserable image of the Arab world.”


Tik Tok star Addison Rae can’t get enough of this Lebanese label 

Tik Tok star Addison Rae can’t get enough of this Lebanese label 
Updated 18 January 2021

Tik Tok star Addison Rae can’t get enough of this Lebanese label 

Tik Tok star Addison Rae can’t get enough of this Lebanese label 

DUBAI: US TikTok star Addison Rae stepped out in a pair of heels by Lebanese footwear designer Andrea Wazen this week.

The Beirut-based designer, who is the younger sister of Lebanese fashion influencer Karen Wazen,  launched her eponymous, celebrity-approved label in 2013 following stints with some of the most renowned footwear designers in the world, including Christian Louboutin and Rupert Sanderson. 

The designer’s impressive list of celebrity clientele covers a broad spectrum of stars, from Hailey Bieber to Tracee Ellis Ross and Jennifer Lopez to Kylie Jenner, who have all donned Andrea Wazen’s strappy sandals and stilettos.

Rae, who rose to fame doing fun-to-replicate dances, opted for the Immy mules in multi-color. The fanciful footwear features mesh lined with leather  and a cone-shaped heel. She paired it with a bright yellow sweater and mom jeans. 

It’s not the first time the 20-year-old has been seen rocking an Andrea Wazen design. 

Last month, the Tik Tok star shared an Instagram Story with her 33.2 million followers in which she was spotted wearing clear pointy-toed shoes with white-strap detailing, called the Dassy PVC pumps. 

She styled the shoes with a white shirt dress from French luxury label Louis Vuitton that featured large pockets on the sides and was tied at the waist with a matching belt.

Indeed, Rae seems to be a fan of the Wazen family’s businesses. 

In recent months, she’s also been seen wearing  sunglasses by Karen Wazen Eyewear, including a pair of “Vicky” in navy blue shades from Karen’s line, which launched in December 2018.

Meanwhile, Rae isn’t the only star who has fallen head over heels for Andrea Wazen. 

US actress Emma Roberts recently donned a blush, floral Ganni dress paired with shoes by Lebanese footwear designer.

She opted for the Denver Lavender pumps, a pair of mesh sandals with an adjustable buckle strap.

“The Kissing Booth” star Joey King is also a fan. 

The 21-year-old was spotted wearing the 90s-inspired Gloria mules for a recent press event in Los Angeles. She paired the mules with a top and matching leggings from New York-based label Lirika Matoshi and a By Far bag.