The Spanish artist preserving the ancient art form of Islamic Guadameci

The Spanish artist preserving the ancient art form of Islamic Guadameci
Portrait of Spanish artist Jose Carlos Villarejo García. Supplied
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Updated 08 October 2020

The Spanish artist preserving the ancient art form of Islamic Guadameci

The Spanish artist preserving the ancient art form of Islamic Guadameci

DUBAI: After a period of quiet months and lockdowns imposed by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Dubai’s cultural scene is slowly picking up again. This week welcomes the sixth edition of World Art Dubai, branded as “the region’s largest affordable retail art fair,” which will be showcasing over 3,000 artworks by contemporary artists from the UAE and abroad.

Among the participating exhibitors this year is Spanish artist Jose Carlos Villarejo García, who previously took part in Sharjah’s Islamic Art Festival. As he explained to Arab News in an interview, showing his artistry to Dubai audiences is particularly special to him. “It is my first time in Dubai and my first time as part of World Art Dubai,” he said. “For me, it is a great opportunity to share my art with Dubai. I feel very happy and very close to Arab culture.”

Having familiarized himself with the culture of the UAE, García shared that his recent works were inspired by certain visual elements, such as colors and clothing materials, seen around Dubai. “I was inspired by the everyday things and houses of Dubai,” he said.




García specializes in an intricate and ancient form of art known as Islamic Guadameci (gilt leatherwork). Supplied

Born in the Andalusian city of Córdoba in 1980, García specializes in an intricate and ancient form of art known as Islamic Guadameci (gilt leatherwork), which features vibrant juxtapositions of colors and golden and silver leaves, rendering geometrical, repeating patterns on tanned sheepskin or ram leather. According to García, this technique was further enhanced under Arab rule in Spain by the Umayyad dynasty during the 10th century, “turning craftsmanship to art.”

“In my city of Córdoba,” he explained, “many of the customs from our Arab past are lived and maintained: the food, the decoration, the crafts, the friendliness and hospitality. Many cultural aspects have been transmitted from generation to generation. My art is a technique that I learned from my ancestors. I grew up in a family of artists. My guadamecíes take us to the most luxurious and splendorous period of the Arabs in Córdoba. And I project in my designs the same philosophy that the Arabs did in that time.”




García’s deep interest in Guadameci art began at an early age. Supplied

García’s deep interest in Guadameci art began at an early age, when he visited his uncle, artist Ramón García Romero, every day and watched him paint guadamecíes in his studio. García is also the founder of the Museum of the Omeyan Guadameci in Córdoba, where he is reviving this spiritual craftsmanship that was once favored by rulers.

“Islamic Guadameci art is the most spiritual in all its forms,” he explained. “The idea of Paradise is always present in it. This form of art brings us to the Eternal Garden with its vegetal and geometric motifs. It is the best way to have a vision of Paradise. The Caliph of Córdoba made gifts of guadamecíes to share the beauty of that vision.”

Given the attention to detail required to execute guadameciés, creating them is a lengthy process; it can take up to two years to complete one artwork. It requires a commitment to organization, customization of tools, dedication and confidence to pursue this kind of art. As García says: “The most important thing is to know your form of art.”


Lebanese designer Rabih Kayrouz makes new collection more accessible 

Lebanese designer Rabih Kayrouz makes new collection more accessible 
Updated 02 March 2021

Lebanese designer Rabih Kayrouz makes new collection more accessible 

Lebanese designer Rabih Kayrouz makes new collection more accessible 

DUBAI: Lebanese designer Rabih Kayrouz has just made his ready-to-wear Spring/Summer 2021 collection more accessible to fashion lovers. 

According to WWD, the founder of Maison Rabin Kayrouz, who is based between Paris and Beirut, has expanded his offerings for the upcoming season and is “shifting prices downward some 20 to 30 percent.”

The designer’s new approach will allow women to turn to Kayrouz for day-to-day ensembles. 

Kayrouz’s new offerings are “soft and playful,” according to the brand’s Instagram page. In his campaign video, the designer showcased dresses, skirts, shirts, trousers and coats in a floral-inspired setting, mixing bold color blocking and fresh prints cut in light fabrics. 

Kayrouz, as well as renowned Lebanese label Elie Saab and Dubai-based atelier Kristina Fidelskaya, is set to present his new creations on March 6 at Paris Fashion Week. 


French-Algerian singer Lolo Zouai slams Nick Jonas on Twitter

The French-Algerian singer called out Nick Jonas in a series of Tweets. File/Instagram
The French-Algerian singer called out Nick Jonas in a series of Tweets. File/Instagram
Updated 02 March 2021

French-Algerian singer Lolo Zouai slams Nick Jonas on Twitter

The French-Algerian singer called out Nick Jonas in a series of Tweets. File/Instagram

DUBAI: French-Algerian pop singer Lolo Zouai has taken to her official Twitter account to call out Nick Jonas for allegedly copying her song “Jade” in a series of Tweets.

Zouai posted a comparison of the first few seconds of Jonas’s newest single “Spaceman” and her song “Jade,” featuring Blood Orange, to hint at the supposed similarities.

Both songs feature warped keys in the beginning. 

“Remember when u flew me out to LA to sign me then ghosted me (sic)” the artist wrote, alongside three cry-laughing emojis. 

Based on the 25-year-old’s tweet, fans were able to deduce that her hit single that catapulted her into fame “High Highs to Low Lows” was partly inspired by Jonas.

“Is that what ‘High Highs to Low Lows’ was written about!?” asked one user, prompting her to respond: “It’s a part of it yes.”

Another fan responded to her Tweet: “Not High Highs to Low Lows being about Nick Jonas I-” 

“Not fully,” replied Zouai. “Don’t give him that much credit! Trust me there r many shady people out here (sic).”

In the song lyrics for “High Highs to Low Lows,” Zouai croons: “Ooh, you wanna help me/Ooh, you wanna fly me out to LA/Dreams you wanna sell me I took a bite/ that’s a gold plate, a gold plate/Timing, he said it’s just bad timing/Lying, all I got from you was silence.”

She also posted a screenshot of a blank iMessage text conversation directed towards the former Jonas Brothers star. “Should I do it?” she asked her 27.6 followers. 

It’s uncertain if she ever did.


Model Imaan Hammam celebrates iconic singer Umm Kulthum in new interview

Imaan Hammam is currently one of the most in-demand models on the scene. File/AFP
Imaan Hammam is currently one of the most in-demand models on the scene. File/AFP
Updated 02 March 2021

Model Imaan Hammam celebrates iconic singer Umm Kulthum in new interview

Imaan Hammam is currently one of the most in-demand models on the scene. File/AFP

DUBAI: Morrocan-Egyptian-Dutch model Imaan Hammam was recently interviewed by award-winning actress Tracee Ellis Ross for i-D Magazine’s latest “Dystopia Issue,” of which Hammam is the cover star. 

During the candid interview, Hammam spoke on everything from her charitable work with non-profit organization She’s the First to her first-ever magazine cover.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Imaan Hammam (@imaanhammam)

Ross also quizzed Hammam about who some of the women that inspire her are, and the model’s answer may come as a surprise to some.

The 24-year-old revealed that one of her inspirations is iconic Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum, who died in Cairo in 1975.

“I don’t know if you know her. But she was an Arabic singer in the 60s,” she explains to Ross. “Her story is incredible. At that time, as a woman, to be a singer was really difficult. And you know all about that. So definitely Umm Kulthum,” she said.

Indeed, Umm Kulthum is considered one of the Arab world’s greatest singers to ever live.

The legendary Egyptian musician known as the “Star of the Orient” and the “Grand dame of Arab singing,” was revered globally for her unique vocals and popular hits like “Al-Atlal,” “Qadheet Hayati,”  and “Alf Leila w Leila,” among others.

Global music sensation Beyonce even paid homage to the late singer during her “On the Run” tour, where she sampled Umm Kulthum’s “Enta Omri” in the opening of a performance.

In addition to the iconic singer, Hammam also shared that her mother is also a huge source of inspiration to her, in addition to fellow supermodels Iman Abdulmajid and Naomi Campbell. 

“My mom has been a big inspiration for me as well, because she came to Holland as an immigrant and really took care of us,” noted the catwalk star. “I mean, I don’t really come from a wealthy family and you know, we’ve had our struggles but she was inspirational.”

She added: “Someone I really appreciate is Iman, the other Iman. Iman and Naomi Campbell, they’re the ones that opened the doors for us. Bethann Hardison, too, she’s the queen. She’s the best. Yeah, so I think those are the people I really aspire to.”


Netflix’s new show ‘The Big Day’ is far from reality

‘The Big Day’ is now streaming on Netflix. Supplied
‘The Big Day’ is now streaming on Netflix. Supplied
Updated 02 March 2021

Netflix’s new show ‘The Big Day’ is far from reality

‘The Big Day’ is now streaming on Netflix. Supplied

BANGALORE: Think “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Bling Empire,” “Indian Matchmaking,” and now, “The Big Day.” It would seem that Netflix wants viewers to know that the rich Asian is here to stay, with its new production about India’s multibillion-dollar wedding industry.

The Conde Nast India reality series follows couples as they embark on over-the-top marriage events orchestrated by luxury wedding planners for a rich Indian clientele.

Three 40-minute episodes – each featuring two couples – focuses on the themes of connecting with roots, questioning age-old rituals, and love triumphing over all.

The premise of the show is the rise of an Indian millennial generation that is going against the grain – be it in the choice of a partner, opting for a sustainable wedding, or having a priestess officiate the marriage ceremony.

And it is not only limited to the festivities of the big day; this generation is ready to explore who they are and what they need out of relationships.

Three 40-minute episodes focuses on the themes of connecting with roots, questioning age-old rituals and love triumphing over all. Supplied

Equality in marriage is a common theme through the series – a concept that a patriarchal society such as India still grapples with. Only recently, regional film “The Great Indian Kitchen” was lauded for shining light on gender inequality in Indian marriages.

The redeeming moments in the show come by way of baby boomer parents admitting that commitment is far above rituals and societal pressures that Indian society is so entangled in, even in this day and age.

There are couples who challenge the power dynamics of the great Indian wedding: Why should the groom’s family have absolute power and say, and why is being a headstrong woman with a take-charge attitude considered a bad thing? The couples question age-old rituals and beliefs and retain whatever makes sense to them.

Unfortunately, the modern messages are drowned out by the ostentatious and blatant display of wealth, complete with life-size Faberge eggs and Victorian-themed parties.

It is a glaring privilege that lets the nouveau-riche choose a wedding venue or a partner – a vast majority of the subcontinent does not have that simple privilege. And it is this sad reality that leaves a bad taste in the mouth.      


Egyptian singer Fatma Said nominated for BBC Music Magazine award

 Egyptian singer Fatma Said nominated for BBC Music Magazine award
Updated 02 March 2021

Egyptian singer Fatma Said nominated for BBC Music Magazine award

 Egyptian singer Fatma Said nominated for BBC Music Magazine award

DUBAI: Egyptian singer Fatma Said has been nominated for the BBC Music Magazine’s 2021 Vocal Award for her debut album “El-Nour,” the music sensation announced on Instagram this week.

“I am excited and honored to learn that I am nominated for the BBC Music Magazine’s 2021 Vocal Award alongside wonderful artists that I admire and look up to,” she wrote captioning the announcement picture released by the BBC. 

She is competing against Russian conductor Vladimir Jurowski’s album “Mahler,” as well as French pianist Alexandre Tharaud and operatic soprano Sabine Devieilhe for their album “Chanson d’Amour.”

In “El-Nour,” which she released in June 2020, she sings some of the most famous Arabic songs like “Sahar El-Layali” by renowned Lebanese singer Fairouz and “Yamama Beida,” an Egyptian folk song composed by Dawoud Hosny in the late 19th century. 

In a post she shared on Instagram upon the release of her album, the musician said: “My debut album ‘El-Nour,’ (the light) in Arabic, has been years in the making. With it, I want to explore how music that has been interpreted many times can be presented in different ways, in a different light.”

It connects three cultures and languages – Arabic, French, and Spanish – and shows how much, despite cultural, geographical, and historical differences, they have in common musically,” she added.⠀ 

Over her career, Said has shared the stage with renowned musicians such as Leo Nucci from Italy, Rolando Villazón from Mexico, Juan Diego Florez from Peru, Michael Schade from Canada and Jose Cura from Argentina. 

She also performed recitals with German clarinetist Sabine Meyer and British pianists such as Malcom Martineau, Roger Vignoles, Joseph Middleton.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in music from Berlin’s Hanns Eisler School of Music in 2013, Said was awarded a scholarship to study at the Accademia del Teatro alla Scala in Milan, becoming the first Egyptian soprano to perform on that iconic stage. 

In the past years she has won several major singing competitions including the 8th Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition in Dublin, the 7th Leyla Gencer International Opera Competition in Istanbul, the second prize at the 16th International Robert Schumann Lied Competition in Zwickau and the Grand Prix at the 1st Giulio Perotti International Opera Competition in Germany.