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

  • 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.


Georges Chakra politicizes couture in an ode to Lebanon

Georges Chakra continuously unveils his aesthetic concepts through his couture shows during fashion weeks. (Supplied)
Updated 21 January 2020

Georges Chakra politicizes couture in an ode to Lebanon

  • The 47-piece offering was an extravagant ode to the Beirut-born designer’s home country of Lebanon, where nation-wide protests have been ongoing for the past couple of months

PARIS: Lebanese Georges Chakra presented his Spring 2020 couture collection at Paris’ Petit Palace on Monday. The 47-piece offering was an extravagant ode to the Beirut-born designer’s home country of Lebanon, where nation-wide protests have been ongoing for the past couple of months.

Lebanese Georges Chakra presented his Spring 2020 couture collection at Paris’ Petit Palace. (Supplied)

Placed on each of the guest’s seats along with the show notes was a synthetic white rose accompanied by a note that read “un rose pour la liberte,” which translates to “one rose for freedom.”

Placed on each of the guest’s seats along with the show notes was a synthetic white rose which read “one rose for freedom.” (Supplied)

The message? Fashion is an act of resistance. Chakra wanted to create the real-life looks that reflected the sophisticated and rebellious nature of Lebanese women. These included a show-stopping lineup of striking eveningwear in a burst of white, hot pink and blue color palettes.

Chakra’s brand signature combines elaborate and intricate back details coupled with modern and bold fabrics. (Supplied)

The glimmer-creating Japanese app Kirakira, which turns anything sparkly into a disco ball–like reflection of shine and shimmer, was the preferred medium for capturing Chakra’s runway today — and rightly so. There were plenty of crystal and sequin embellished pieces on the runway that will surely hit the red carpet soon. 

There were plenty of crystal and sequin embellished pieces on the runway that will surely hit the red carpet soon. (Supplied)

Standout looks included a pink, strapless satin duchesse dress that was short at the front and long at the back and boasted a violet floral print, an asymmetrical gown that featured dashes of sequins in varying hues of green, an icy blue sheath dress with an organza train and a hand-painted blue-grey gazar dress with a fan shaped neckline.

Chakra wanted to create the real-life looks that reflected the sophisticated and rebellious nature of Lebanese women. (Supplied)

You can picture his longtime client US actress Janina Gavankar looking devastating on the red carpet wearing the bright pink slit dress with a criss-cross neckline and long train. Or his new client, actress Nina Kiri, who wore one of his creations to the 2020 Screen Actors Guild Awards on Jan. 20, in the strapless, aquamarine satin dress with a high slit.

Chakra began his work in a war-clad Beirut, after he graduated from Canada. (Supplied)

As is customary, the last look was the bridal look. The off-the-shoulder wedding dress was accessorized with a glittering emerald and diamond necklace made by Lebanese jeweler Fawaz Gruosi. In addition to the striking sartorial lineup, the necklace will also be available for purchase, with a portion of the proceeds going to Beirut’s Children's Cancer Center of Lebanon and scholarships at the Ecole Saint Vincent de Paul.