Lebanese painter Zena Assi breaks down her work ‘My City on the Egg’

Lebanese painter Zena Assi breaks down her work ‘My City on the Egg’
Portrait of Zena Assi by Gilbert Hage. Supplied
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Updated 26 November 2020

Lebanese painter Zena Assi breaks down her work ‘My City on the Egg’

Lebanese painter Zena Assi breaks down her work ‘My City on the Egg’
  • The Lebanese painter discusses one of her pieces from a group exhibition being shown online by Mark Hachem Gallery until November 28.

BEIRUT: I’ve been working on the theme of Beirut for the past decade or more. I like to show, as much as I can, what’s happening on the political, social and personal side and put them all on the same scale.

The Egg was built by Joseph Philippe Karam in 1965. It had a lot of potential as an iconicbuilding, but it was never finished because of the civil war. Its walls are filled with bullet marks.

During the protests of October 17, it was reclaimed as a public space. Students, teachers, and activists were giving talks in it. It was a landmark being revived and giving hope that we felt throughout the protests.

I’ve constructed this base above the Egg because we were going through such instability in Lebanon. But there was hope. That's why I loved the stairs, which I emphasized, because you’re climbing up and going to a better future.




‘My City on the Egg’ by Zena Assi. Supplied

At the same time, with the structure, you feel it might crumble. This was a menace for the revolution the whole time: Will it survive? I liked playing with the fragility of the structure, whereas the Egg is solid — holding all this above it.

I wanted to show the contradictions of Lebanon. In the top corner, there’s a sexy woman putting lipstick on and then you have a different side — a history of the civil war and religion, which is one of the main sources of our conflicts. I put wings on people hovering around the city because we always have this presence of martyrs being recalled.

You have all these different cultures mixed up: There’s Maggi soup — very typical to the generation of the Seventies and Eighties — and then Twitter and Facebook connecting us to the outside world.

In Beirut, there are a lot of electric cables. The sky is blue, but it’s not clear. I had this urge to give this dusty feeling to the atmosphere, so I sprayed a haze layer just to be more truthful about the sky above us.


Singer Jessie J sparkles in Egyptian jewelry label Ammanii

British singer Jessie J is known for hits like ‘Bang Bang’ and ‘Price Tag.’
British singer Jessie J is known for hits like ‘Bang Bang’ and ‘Price Tag.’
Updated 19 January 2021

Singer Jessie J sparkles in Egyptian jewelry label Ammanii

British singer Jessie J is known for hits like ‘Bang Bang’ and ‘Price Tag.’

DUBAI: Jewelry designer Amany Shaker left Egypt over 30-years-ago after finishing up a psychology degree to work in an international NGO in Los Angeles, which became her second home. In 2015, she did a complete career 360, when she decided to launch her own jewelry line Ammanii, a play on her first name, “from the desire to tell stories and untie women while transcending cultural barriers.” Having lived in eight different countries and worked with a global NGO for nearly two decades, Shaker combined her background in peace building and conflict resolution with her passion for jewelry design by creating timeless pieces.

Each piece is meticulously handmade in Hong Kong and the jewels are primarily crafted with silver and semi-precious stones, a nod to her native country, where Ancient Egyptians considered silver to be more precious than gold.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by AMMANII (@ammaniijewelry)

Shaker’s handcrafted rings, necklaces and bracelets have been worn by actresses Emma Roberts and Shay Mitchell, among others.

The Cairo and Los Angeles-based label was recently picked up by “Eastwave,” a new virtual pop-up supporting established and emerging designers from the Middle East and North Africa. The digital and physical platform, which launched in August, features a curated selection of brands spanning from ready-to-wear, accessories and jewelry, including Egyptian handbags label Aliel, Lebanese contemporary womenswear label Jessica K and Dubai-based jewelry brand Bil Arabi, among others.

In addition to offering a platform for Arab talent and shining a spotlight on creatives from the Middle East and North Africa, Eastwave has also helped to propel Arab designers into the wardrobes of different A-listers.

See British singer Jessie J, stepped out this week championing Ammanii’s Hand Carved Dome Ring, a Vermeil gold. hand-carved ring set with cubic zircon and blue topaz, to represent the evil eye. 

The “Bang Bang” singer’s public appearance comes shortly after she took to Instagram to announce to her 9.4 million followers that as been diagnosed with Ménière’s disease, a chronic disorder of the inner ear that can lead to dizziness and hearing loss. 

She styled the colorful, statement ring with a crystal-infused Area top and belt, ripped denim jeans and heels from Sophia Webster.