New York’s Grey Art Gallery to explore Arab abstract art

New York’s Grey Art Gallery to explore Arab abstract art
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Updated 31 December 2019

New York’s Grey Art Gallery to explore Arab abstract art

New York’s Grey Art Gallery to explore Arab abstract art
  • Artworks from the collection of Sharjah’s Barjeel Art Foundation will be presented at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery
  • “Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s” will take place from Jan. 14 to April 4 in Manhattan

DUBAI: Artworks from the collection of Sharjah’s Barjeel Art Foundation will be presented at New York University’s Grey Art Gallery as part of the upcoming exhibition “Taking Shape: Abstraction from the Arab World, 1950s–1980s,” from Jan. 14 to April 4 in Manhattan.

 The exhibition is a collaborative project between the two institutions. 

The four-month-long art show will feature nearly 90 works all drawn from the Emirati non-profit arts organization, including paintings, sculptures and a book of essays written by prominent personalities from the world of arts and culture, including three UAE-based authors — Salwa Mikdadi, Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi and Suheyla Takesh, who co-curated and organized the event.

Featured artists include Lebanese poet and visual artist Etel Adnan, late Iraqi painter and sculptor Shakir Hassan Al-Said, late Moroccan painter Ahmed Cherkaoui and late Emirati artist Hassan Sharif among others. Paintings from Saloua Raouda Choucair, the late Lebanese artist who is credited with pioneering the abstract art movement in the Middle East during the 1950s, will also be showcased for visitors to view.

The presented works hail from a diverse range of countries from the Middle East and North Africa, including Algeria, Egypt, Palestine, Jordan, Kuwait, Palestine, Tunisia and Syria.

The aim of the exhibition is to explore the development of abstract work in the Middle East, North Africa and the Arab diaspora via paintings, sculptures and works on paper dating from the 1950s through to the 1980s.

Though art has always been prominent in the Arab world, various modes of abstract art began spreading like wildfire through the region during the 20th century in the form of Islamic calligraphy, printmaking, sculptures and paintings.

After debuting at the Grey Art Gallery at New York University, “Taking Shape” will travel to the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University in Illinois, where it will be on view from April 28 through to  July 26, before heading to the Johnson Museum at Cornell University in New York from August 22 to Dec. 13, 2020.

 “Taking Shape” aims to enlighten visitors about the lesser-known origins and influences of abstract art from the Arab world.


Global pop group Now United shoots new music video in Abu Dhabi

Nour Ardakani (right), a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th and first Arab member. Instagram
Nour Ardakani (right), a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th and first Arab member. Instagram
Updated 16 January 2021

Global pop group Now United shoots new music video in Abu Dhabi

Nour Ardakani (right), a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th and first Arab member. Instagram

DUBAI: Global pop group Now United has filmed its music video for “Lean on Me” at Abu Dhabi’s five-star Emirates Palace hotel.

The video starts with a sweeping view of the hotel, before showing band members performing choreographed dance moves in its plush corridors and outside terrace.

The band, made up of 16 members from as many countries, has spent the past few months in the UAE, following the search to find its newest member from the Middle East.

Nour Ardakani, a 19-year-old singer from Lebanon, became the band’s 16th — and first Arab — member.

She was handpicked by Simon Fuller, who founded The Spice Girls and created the “American Idol” TV show.

Since Ardakani’s arrival, the group has been busy recording new music and shooting videos in various locations around the UAE.

The video for its track “Habibi,” released in November to officially welcome Ardakani into the band, was shot partly in Dubai’s historic Al-Fahidi district, and in her native Lebanon.

This is not the first time that an artist or group has turned to the Arab world for inspiring cityscapes.

Cardi B’s breakout single as a rapper, “Bodak Yellow,” was filmed in the UAE. The video, set in Dubai, topped the US Billboard Hot 100 chart for three consecutive weeks, and received nominations for best rap performance and best rap song at the Grammys.

In 2018, US-Moroccan rapper French Montana went back to his roots for his “Famous” music video, shot in the Moroccan city of Chefchaouen, where he grew up.

British recording artist M.I.A also shot her 2012 music video for “Bad Girls” in Morocco. The video, filmed in the city of Ouarzazate, won the VMA for best cinematography and best direction, and was nominated for a Grammy.