MiSK Art Institute documents Arab artists through ‘Art Library’ initiative

MiSK Art Institute documents Arab artists through ‘Art Library’ initiative
Abdulrahman Alsoliman, Memory of First Neighbourhood (al-Kut) II, 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 96 × 151 cm, Private collection. (Supplied)
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Updated 24 August 2021

MiSK Art Institute documents Arab artists through ‘Art Library’ initiative

MiSK Art Institute documents Arab artists through ‘Art Library’ initiative
  • The pioneering series of slipcases published by Rizzoli Libri offers one of first comprehensive compilations of Arab Art

DUBAI: The Middle East, a region rich in ancient and pre-historic art, has also long been home to dynamic places for modern and contemporary art and culture. 

Over the past century talented Arab artists have captured the world around them, particularly as major historical events have shaped the region. They have portrayed the daily life and people in their nations and cities even during moments of great change. However, not much has been written and documented about the Arab artists that have covered the last century through their art.

The MiSK Art Institute, an affiliate of the Prince Muhammad Bin Salman Foundation, or MiSK, aims to change this with “The Art Library,” an initiative to write and publish a series of art books about Saudi and Arab artists in both Arabic and English. Published by renowned house Rizzoli Libri, the first series of two books came out in June, dedicated respectively to post-war contemporary Saudi Arabian painter Abdulrahman Alsoliman, currently based in Dammam, and Adam Henein, Egypt’s renowned modernist who passed away in May 2020, and who was known for his pioneering sculptures in bronze, wood, clay, and granite.




Abdulrahman Alsoliman, Memory of First Neighbourhood (al-Kut) III, 2014, Acrylic on canvas, 90 × 90 cm, Private collection. (Supplied)

The elegant volumes, each around 150 pages, offer an informal yet concise and richly detailed introduction to some of the most prominent figures of Arab art. Each book is illustrated with easy-to-follow text — perfect for those without previous knowledge or for connoisseurs in the field wishing to gain more knowledge of 20th century Middle Eastern art history.

“I’d long been keen on publishing a book on artists from our region — a series that would shed light on their work and contributions to the canon of Arab art history, but also highlight those who were or still are otherwise missing in terms of documentation and literature,” series editor Mona Khazindar told Arab News.

“I approached MiSK Art Institute because it is an organization that is dedicated to the development of Saudi and Arab art and furthering that conversation,” Khazindar, who was the first female (and first Saudi) director general of the World Arab Institute in Paris from March 2011 to March 2014, added. “As editor, I am delighted to work closely with the institute on selecting artists and respective writers and looking at the conception of exhibitions to support the book launches.”




Abdulrahman Alsoliman Solo Exhibition part of the launch of The Art Library, Misk Art Institute, Riyadh, 2021. (Supplied)

“Abdulrahman Alsoliman: Signs and Symbols” explores how the artist used to create his abstract paintings, a manner that gave rise to an intricate ornamental style influenced by local Saudi and Arab traditions and literature. Features in the book are by esteemed Arab art historians and specialists, including Roxane Zand, Farouq Youssef, and Zain AlSaie. The foreword is written by Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al-Saud.

The other book, “Adam Henein: Charcoal Drawings,” reveals a never-before-published selection of charcoal drawings produced by the artist over the last two decades of his life. These expressive and intimate drawings were crucial to the production of his avant-garde sculptures. The book includes a foreword by Khazindar and essays by Arab art specialists Sacha Craddock, Salah Bisar, and Nayra Zaghloul.

“‘The Art Library’ responds directly to the absence of documentation and minimal literature on Saudi and Arab artists, and we are hoping that this initiative will contribute to furthering the discourse on the rich history of art practice in the Saudi and Arab worlds,” Reem AlSultan, CEO at MiSK Art Institute, told Arab News.




Adam Henein, Untitled, Paris, 1993, Natural pigments and gum Arabic on papyrus, 59.3 × 81.9 cm, Collection of the Adam Henein Museum, al-Harraneya. (Supplied)

“We are keen on telling our stories and equally keen on being the source and narrators of our own histories.”

AlSultan stressed how the celebration of work by Saudi and Arab artists is a core part of the vision behind MiSK Art Institute, which it also implements through artist residencies, staging exhibitions, the MiSK Art Grant, talks, and MiSK Art Week, among other initiatives. “‘The Art Library’ complements the institute’s mandate to support Saudi and Arab artists, and this is one of many ways in which we do,” she added.




The Art Library first two volumes (AlSolaiman & Henin Books) exclusively sold at the Store of Prince Faisal bin Fahad Arts Hall, Riyadh, 2021. Image courtesy of Misk Art Institute. (Supplied)

Regardless of what happens socially or politically to a given people or place, it is the art that will be left to remember the stories of that culture. As Khazindar puts it: “Books are ultimately what remain and will tell the stories of Saudi and Arab artists, they serve as reference and educate and inspire audiences. These books will testify to a long history of art practice in the region and reflect upon the themes, movements and styles of modern and contemporary artists operating within.”

“The Art Library” is available for purchase on Amazon and from Rizzoliusa.com.


Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh

Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh
Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News
Updated 1 min 9 sec ago

Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh

Your guide to the 2021 RUSH Festival in Riyadh

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s inaugural gaming and esports extravaganza, RUSH Festival, is currently underway in Riyadh. The five-day event, which wraps up on Oct. 26 as part of Riyadh Season 2021, is not short on entertainment.

Enjoy games

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Video game lovers can compete in more than 18 different gaming tournaments, including Tekken 7, Peggy, Overwatch, FIFA 2022, Call of Duty and many more.

Dress up

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Visitors are encouraged to dress up as their favorite video game or anime characters. Fans of the fictional universe who registered for the cosplay contest will compete for “best costume” and stand to win a grand prize of $18,662.

Shop

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

You can buy a souvenir for yourself or your loved ones from the many pop-up shops dotted throughout the venue.

Eat local

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

If you’re looking to fuel up, there is no shortage of restaurants and cafes to pick and choose from, including local eateries such as Ahal Al-Deera.

Live Music

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Catch live performances from a lineup of Saudi Arabia-based DJs, including DJ Vegas, DJ Bassel and DJ Memo Max, who will be setting the mood throughout the esports event.

Discover the latest in tech

Photo by Huda Bashatah/Arab News

Explore the latest in gaming technology, with hyper-realistic virtual reality games, mobile games and more.


Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada

Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada
The singer wore a jumpsuit designed by Osman Yousefzada. Instagram
Updated 24 October 2021

Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada

Chloe Bailey shows off courtside style by Osman Yousefzada

DUBAI: US singer Chloe Bailey turned Atlanta’s State Farm Arena into her own personal runway this week as she was spotted sitting courtside with rapper Gunna at the Hawks vs. Mavericks basketball game. For the game, the 23-year-old brought her signature style to the arena.

Bailey has a penchant for curve-hugging designs and is often spotted wearing form-fitting dresses, two-pieces and bodysuits on stage, on the red carpet or simply out and about. The game was no different.

Chloe Bailey and Gunna at the Hawks vs. Mavericks basketball game in Atlanta. Getty Images

The hitmaker offered a stylish masterclass on courtside dressing wearing an abstract blue jumpsuit from British-Afghan-Pakistani designer Osman Yousefzada’s Osman Studios, styled by Nikki Cortez. The eye-catching bodysuit was a collaboration with print artist Alex Beattie.  

The British designer who was born to Pakistani and Afghani immigrants has had his tailored pieces worn by the likes of American singers Beyonce, Lady Gaga, and Taylor Swift. In addition to his celebrity-loved eponymous label, that launched in 2008, Yousefzada is also known for his multi-disciplinary artwork.

He often combines his love of fashion and art in his garments by collaborating with various artists such as Asif Khan, Celia Hempton, Christodolous Panayiotou and more.

Bailey accessorized the artsy look with a Gucci belt, black heels and hoop earrings. All together, the look was ready for a red carpet or fashion show appearance.

The singer wore a jumpsuit designed by Osman Yousefzada. Instagram   

The “Have Mercy” singer was also seen in the outfit earlier in the day when she greeted fans outside an appearance at Spelman College.

“I was so happy to speak with you beautiful ladies,” she wrote on Twitter.

Bailey’s courtside appearance with Gunna had fans wondering whether a romance or a possible collaboration is in the works.

The duo, who were sitting side-by-side, were put up on the Jumbotron and eventually their rumored romance became a trending topic on social media.

Ahead of their courtside appearance together, the “Drip Too Hard” rapper previously took to his Instagram to gush over Bailey, reposting her performance of “Have Mercy” at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Neither Bailey or Gunna have commented on the rumors. 


Kingdom’s pavilion at Expo 2020 brings together industry experts for first Saudi Salon

Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai . (Farah Heiba/ Arab News)
Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai . (Farah Heiba/ Arab News)
Updated 24 October 2021

Kingdom’s pavilion at Expo 2020 brings together industry experts for first Saudi Salon

Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai . (Farah Heiba/ Arab News)

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai brought together creative experts for the first session of the “Saudi Salon” late last week.

Organizers brought together a panel of experts on Thursday to discuss the role of creative industries in facilitating cultural transformation.

The discussion was held in the Palm Garden inside the Kingdom’s pavilion and moderated by Yasser Al-Saqqaf. Participants included Robert Frith from the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), Francesca Hegyi from the Edinburgh International Festival, Sarah Al-Omran, deputy director of Art Jameel, Nora Al-Dabal from the Royal Commission for AlUla Governorate and Robert Bock, a representative of the MDLBEAST festival in the Kingdom.

At the beginning of the session, Frith discussed the role that creative industries play in changing societies. He said that Ithra has managed to have a positive impact on Saudi society since its inauguration in 2016 and has also succeeded in adapting to changes around it

For her part, Hegyi emphasized that culture and creativity are the mirror of society and therefore they play an important role in facilitating change in societies in general. She added: “I think this indicates the type of change that can be brought out within societies. For this change to happen, they need to ratify a set of special policies and laws that can speed up the process.”

As for Al-Dabal, she reviewed the experience of AlUla Governorate, saying: “We are all aware of the deep history that AlUla holds and the different civilizations and cultures it has witnessed throughout history. I believe that the qualitative leap that this historical site is currently witnessing shows the impact of the creative industries and their ability to change a society. She also noted the importance of partnerships in creative industries, saying: “Such partnerships are important, as they work to stimulate cooperation on one hand and on the other, contribute to deepening the effects that creative industries have on society”.

Bock, meanwhile, stressed “the power of creative industries and their ability to sharpen the human mind,” saying: “We cannot deny that the Kingdom has witnessed, in recent years, a qualitative leap in the cultural sector, which allowed the creative industries to develop faster and stronger. This created new platforms and partnerships allowing creative talents to reach out to the community and introduce themselves to it.”


‘Feathers’: Award-winning Egyptian film is dark and brilliant

The film won the Best Arab Narrative Film trophy at the El Gouna Film Festival. (Supplied)
The film won the Best Arab Narrative Film trophy at the El Gouna Film Festival. (Supplied)
Updated 24 October 2021

‘Feathers’: Award-winning Egyptian film is dark and brilliant

The film won the Best Arab Narrative Film trophy at the El Gouna Film Festival. (Supplied)

CHENNAI: Omar El-Zohairy’s debut Egyptian work, “Feathers,” was both lauded and lambasted. Despite its big win at Cannes Critics Week with a Grand Prize and the Best Arab Narrative Film trophy at the recent El Gouna Film Festival, it was viewed as offensive to the country by some. Some Egyptian directors and actors, including Sherif Mounir, Ahmed Rizk and Ashraf Abdel Baqi, walked out of the screening last week, claiming it portrayed Egypt in a negative light.  

Be that as it may, “Feathers” is an absurdist drama that presents a disturbing cocktail of magic, mystery and madness, weaving its plot through acutely sparse frames. A story of a meek wife (Demyana Nassar) and a horridly domineering husband (Samy Bassiouny) with three very young children, she is portrayed as subdued and slavish.

Listless to the point of looking terribly unhappy, she faintly sparkles when he decides to organize a magic show to celebrate his son’s fourth birthday. It ends in a disaster when the magician turns the husband into a chicken, but fails to transform him back to his original self. The wife is left with a bird that she feeds and nurses. It is only after her back-breaking search to find the magician, all the while struggling to earn a pittance to buy food for her family, that the director lets us into a horrible truth and its repercussions. 

Similar to somber, straight-faced Finnish helmer Aki Kaurismaki’s work, “Feathers” is shot in greys and dull lighting. The tonal mix establishes the stark reality of a woman who eventually graduates from utter passivity to surprising dominance. The drab looking buildings, the exposed pipelines and the family’s bare and dingy home, filmed with incisive camerawork by Kamal Samy, add to the sheer helplessness of the wife. But the script is engrossing, with a narrative that is dark, hiding an unbelievable piece of information, which when it comes will throw you off guard. 

The movie works as a brutal look at patriarchy, though this is handled with admirable restraint in the screenplay, co-written by El-Zohairy and Ahmed Amer. With the woman’s attitude changing so subtly, the drama underplays the climax. It is not really about revenge but about discovering one’s self-respect.


Megan Fox can’t get enough of Lebanese label Andrea Wazen

Megan Fox can’t get enough of Lebanese label Andrea Wazen
Megan Fox rose to prominence for her role in ‘Transformers.’ Instagram
Updated 23 October 2021

Megan Fox can’t get enough of Lebanese label Andrea Wazen

Megan Fox can’t get enough of Lebanese label Andrea Wazen

DUBAI: It seems that Megan Fox cannot get enough of Lebanese footwear label Andrea Wazen. The 35-year-old actress is often photographed wearing the Beirut-based designer’s creations, including this week when she stepped out for an off-duty stroll in Los Angeles championing the brand’s Denver pumps in black.

The “Transformers” star elevated her mesh sandals with a faux leather cropped blazer and boyfriend jeans from her recently-launched collection with fast-fashion retailer Boohoo, paired with a bright blue JW Pei handbag.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Maeve Reilly (@stylememaeve)

Last month, the star wore Wazen’s heels to the REVOLVE Gallery Private Event in New York City.

Fox opted for a pair of clear pointed-toe heels with gold-strap detailing, called the Dassy Sunset PVC Pumps.

She matched her heels with a sporty pale yellow jacket and matching flared pants.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Megan Fox (@meganfox)

Also in recent weeks, Fox shared photos on Instagram wearing a pair of transparent shoes designed by Wazen that featured green criss-cross detailing.

Meanwhile in July, the star championed the designer’s lace-up Mandaloun heels in blue.

Fox isn’t the only celebrity fan of the Lebanese label, however.

In fact, Andrea Wazen is shaping up to be the next big footwear brand to watch.

Since launching in 2013, the label’s strappy sandals and stilettos have made their way onto the pedicured toes of A-listers and It-girls across the globe, including Beyonce, Hailey Bieber, Khloe Kardashian, Kylie Jenner and Addison Rae, who have all championed Wazen’s creations.

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

After picking up leading shoe magazine Footwear News’s prestigious Emerging Talents Award and being named Accessories Designer of the Year by Fashion Trust Arabia last year, Wazen joins a lineup of inimitable Arab female footwear designers who have seen both critical and commercial success with their brands, including Jordanian-Romanian Amina Muaddi, Kuwaiti designer Najeeba Hayat of Liudmila and Lebanese-Australian Katrine Hanna.