Young Saudi’s artistic work takes Islamic geometry to new level

‘Harmony’ describes reaching the balance in life with the black circle and the white interlocking perfectly. (Supplied)
‘Harmony’ describes reaching the balance in life with the black circle and the white interlocking perfectly. (Supplied)
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Updated 01 January 2022

Young Saudi’s artistic work takes Islamic geometry to new level

‘Harmony’ describes reaching the balance in life with the black circle and the white interlocking perfectly. (Supplied)
  • It is very precise and has a lot of structure, I absolutely fell in love with rhyme and rhythm of it, says Lama Abdulrahman
  • Abdulrahman said that — from what she has heard — her connection to her artwork differs from most other artists

JEDDAH: A 22-year-old artist, Lama Abdulrahman, has taken traditional Islamic art and experimented with it, creating her own unique style while still keeping the spirit of the art alive.
Her main style is Islamic geometry, though she likes experimenting with many different mediums, Abdulrahman said.
“Mainly, I love patterns; I play around with patterns depending on my mood, so I was discovering the different kinds of patterns when I found Islamic geometry. It is very precise and has a lot of patterns and structure.
“I absolutely fell in love with the rhyme and rhythm of it; that’s where I decided that this is what I want to pursue further.”




visitors in Athr gallery marveling over "Sukoon" an artwork that shows. (Supplied)

Art is often described as a visual representation of one’s feelings; when following the abstract style of art, the artist does not plan the course of action, Abdulrahman said, adding that she is extremely connected to her style but in a different way. “Usually, artists go about expressing their emotions in a very ‘flowy’ manner, but for me, it’s grounding when I draw the perfect line, and when the shapes form and they are perfect, that gives me inner peace.”
She defined the feeling of constructing a well-proportioned pattern as “serene,” since Islamic geometry has sacredness. The artist said that her connection to her art is strong because, when she is insecure about her work, she also feels insecure about herself.




The artwork that was exhibited in Athr gallery, by Lama Abdulrahman. (Supplied)

Abdulrahman said that for her work, she chose to do the majority of pieces in black and white. “The point of that is to show how the shape came to be, the beauty of the shapes and patterns themselves without adding color to it,” she added.

HIGHLIGHT

Lama Abdulrahman said that she was scared to present it to the audience because both the art styles she was using are sacred, but that people received them well.

Recently, she showcased her artwork in Athr Gallery in Jeddah, which was a first of its kind. She united the two styles, making the proportions a meeting point of calligraphy and geometry titled “Sukoon” (Tranquility).
The young artist said that she was scared to present it to the audience because both the art styles she was using are sacred, but that people received them well.
“One of the visitors even said that, even though there are a lot of lines and colors, the piece itself had a lot of chaos drawn into it, (yet) she still felt tranquility. My message reached this one person, and that meant the world to me,” Abdulrahman recalled.




The construction of the letter Kaaf is represented by Islamic geometry. (Supplied)

“There is … pressure that every single pattern I draw and analyze has been drawn before. I always have the fear that I might ruin this historical artifact,” she said, sharing the fears that she faces on a daily basis.
Another challenge that Abdulrahman said was common, but not talked about enough, was imposter syndrome, or feelings of self-doubt or incompetence despite qualifications and experience.
She said that an inner voice was always telling her that she hasn’t studied art or that this art form was not for her to put her spin on, yet she still persisted.
The number of Islamic geometry artists is scarce in Saudi Arabia. Most of the research available on the topic can be found only in English. According to Abdulrahman, there is so much artists have been missing out on as a result of this barrier. “Only recently have they started to explore this field, I feel like we have a whole unexplored gold mine here.”
Abdulrahman aspires to reach a level where she can put up her own art gallery without having her name attached to someone else. “I would like my art, and my potential, to speak for itself,” she said.


Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London

Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London
Updated 21 January 2022

Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London

Syrian arts, culture festival opens in London

DUBAI: The Syrian Arts and Culture Festival, a new multidisciplinary event showcasing the country’s creative talents, has opened in London.

The inaugural event, running until Feb. 4, brings together established and emerging artists, filmmakers, performers, and musicians to offer audiences alternative narratives and perspectives on Syria, its people, and its culture.

The SACF is a project by Zamakan, a non-profit platform that aims to create opportunities for artists, cultural workers, and creatives from West Asia and North Africa, and Marsm, a London-based events company.

Upcoming events feature a performance by Syrian musician Ibrahim Keivo. (Syrian Arts and Culture Festival)

SACF is a transliteration of the Arabic word saqf, meaning roof or ceiling, a word which is also used to represent the limit of something. According to the website, the festival, “aspires to be a creative platform where limits can be pushed and boundaries are broken.”

For the opening night, the festival presented two solo performances by the acclaimed Syrian classical guitarist Ayman Jarjour and and Palestinian ney (a type of flute) virtuoso Faris Ishaq.

Upcoming events feature screenings of Syrian filmmaker Omar Amiralay’s movies, a traditional food workshop, and a performance by Syrian musician Ibrahim Keivo.


Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger discuss all-women spy flick ‘The 355’

Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger discuss all-women spy flick ‘The 355’
Updated 21 January 2022

Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger discuss all-women spy flick ‘The 355’

Jessica Chastain, Diane Kruger discuss all-women spy flick ‘The 355’

LOS ANGELES: US actress Jessica Chastain’s “The 355” just hit theaters to mixed reviews and Arab News sat down with the star to hear more about the game-changing film. 

In early 2018, Chastain pitched studios on a movie about an all-female team of spies — four years later, she’s starring in it. 

Perhaps best known for her dramatic roles, the bombastic action of “The 355” is something of a departure for Chastain.

The story sees a team of spies from agencies around the world uniting to stop a dangerous enemy.

Perhaps best known for her dramatic roles, the bombastic action of “The 355” is something of a departure for Chastain. (YouTube)

“It was never my intention even with making this film to be an action star or that kind of sarcastic one-liner character that you would see in all these genre movies,” the actress, who stars as spy Mace Brown, told Arab News. “I like playing all different kinds of parts as we see in ‘The Eyes Of Tammy Faye’ or in ‘Scenes From a Marriage’ and I just want to do everything.”

The film had a lacklustre showing at the American box office and with critics who cited a generic plot, flat characters and uninventive action. Chastain, however, believes the movie is being held to unfair standards.

“The industry tends to be more critical of a film that may be an ensemble of women or about a group of people that aren’t often celebrated by this industry,” she said. 

“We’re living in a pandemic and there is no sense to anything that’s happening right now because people’s safety is the only thing that they care about. And we need to stop using the pandemic as a way to devalue the stories of others,” added Chastain. 

Co-star Diane Kruger, who plays the role of spy Marie Schmidt, said her cast members helped her to overcome the physical and emotional stress of filming only six months after having a baby.

“It became exhilarating, week after week feeling I was able to kick higher, lift heavier just feeling my body coming back and becoming stronger again and taking control over myself again,” Kruger said. “It felt really empowering. It’s a little silly to say, but it did feel like this movie in a way helped me get back to me.”


‘I’m carried by passion’: Syrian actress Kinda Alloush says as she discusses upcoming projects

‘I’m carried by passion’: Syrian actress Kinda Alloush says as she discusses upcoming projects
Updated 21 January 2022

‘I’m carried by passion’: Syrian actress Kinda Alloush says as she discusses upcoming projects

‘I’m carried by passion’: Syrian actress Kinda Alloush says as she discusses upcoming projects

DUBAI: It’s been five years since Kinda Alloush, one of the most popular actresses in the Arab world, decided to take a prolonged break for the first time in her career. She had dominated Syrian television in one decade and then Egyptian film and TV in the next, but Alloush had found, at the height of her fame, something that mattered more: The chance to start a family with her husband, Egyptian actor Amr Youssef.

Alloush, 39 and now the mother to a 3-year-old daughter named Hayat, has since returned to the screens both big and small, but while she is as popular as ever, the Syrian superstar is not the same person she was in the last phase of her acting journey. With each project she now takes, Alloush yearns for more, and she’s tired of playing it safe.

Alloush stars in “Sittat Bayt Al Ma’adi.” (Supplied)

“For a long time, I played roles that were very similar to each other. I’m not sure why — maybe I fit a type. Maybe it’s my face,” Alloush, who has long played the ‘good girl’, tells Arab News.

“Now, I don't want to just add a new film to my archive, I don’t want to just say ‘I did a new movie, it’s so successful, I’m so happy.’ That’s not what I'm looking for. What I’m looking for is to learn. It’s about how to really make yourself richer on a human level, not just the acting level. I want to go back to my country and to feel that I am now a different person,” Alloush continues.

Each role that she has taken since her break from acting has pushed her in a different direction, stretching muscles — physical, mental, and spiritual — that she didn’t know she had. Currently, she’s filming “Yellow Bus” in Abu Dhabi, an OSN Original about an Indian girl who goes missing after falling asleep on a school bus, and her mother’s search to find out the truth. Alloush plays Mira, the missing girl’s school principal.

Alloush is married to Egyptian actor Amr Youssef. (Supplied)

“I read maybe 10 pages of the script before I knew I had to be in this movie. It’s a human story that could have happened anywhere in the world. I assure you that if anyone watches this movie, they will feel the pain this family felt. And that is what happened to me; I felt the pain, I felt every detail written into this movie. And I felt that I wanted to be a part of this, no matter how busy my schedule was,” says Alloush.

The film also offers Alloush something none of her previous work has — the chance to act in a different language with a multi-cultural cast featuring Bollywood stars Tannishtha Chatterjee and Amit Sial along with an American director in Wendy Bednarz.

“It’s my first time acting in English. I’ve been doing this for more than 17 years in Syria and Egypt, but all my projects were in Arabic. I’ve spoken English for a long time, but it’s different to act in English rather than to just speak it. You need to be so real. I need to make you believe me, to make you feel what I’m feeling. And pushing myself to do that, opposite these amazing actors from different backgrounds and different styles, makes it such a rich and challenging experience,” says Alloush.

The actress stars in the upcoming Netflix original film “The Swimmers.” (Supplied)

And with Mira, Alloush is finally playing against type, abandoning her ‘good girl’ persona.

“Mira is really different. She’s a bit controversial. You can’t really put your finger on her. You need to finish the movie before you have a full view of her many layers. At the beginning, you’ll wonder, ‘Why did she react like this? Why did she do that?’ And your curiosity pays off as you learn more about her story. She’s so unlike anyone I’ve ever inhabited.”

Alloush, who already boasts 10 million followers on Instagram, will also soon be introduced to a wider audience than ever before when she stars in the upcoming Netflix original film “The Swimmers,” based on the real-life story of Sara and Yusra Mardini, the famed Syrian refugees-turned-Olympians. The film was written by BAFTA-winner Jack Thorne and directed by Egyptian filmmaker Sally El-Hosaini.

Alloush stars alongside Ahmed Ezz in 2012’s “El Maslaha.” (Supplied)

“‘The Swimmers’ is so interesting, because every bit of it is true to life, with all the characters still living, including these two famous swimmers. Although my character is pure Syrian, working with German actor Matthias Schweighöfer, Ali Suliman from Palestine, and Ahmed Malek from Egypt also brought a real multicultural spirit to the project, which made for a rich experience as well,” says Alloush.

While Alloush moved to Egypt just as the Syrian civil war began, the actress has devoted much of her free time to the refugee cause ever since, becoming a ‘High Profile Supporter’ of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. In another upcoming film, entitled “Nuzooh” (Displacement), Alloush will tackle the country’s trauma from the civil war, giving perhaps the most harrowing experience of her career.

“It’s about a Syrian family, and it’s a very difficult, sensitive subject. We filmed it in Turkey,” she says. “While I’m from Syria, I didn’t live through the war in Syria. With this movie that I’ve just finished, I felt like I was living the war in every small detail. It was a really difficult experience unlike any I’ve had.”

While Alloush is testing her limits as an actor, she’s also never been more fulfilled by her craft.

“I’m collecting experiences. When I enter a new project, I feel like I am empty, and I want to fill myself in some way — to learn, to hear, to talk to people from a different culture,” she says. “I’m carried by passion. Maybe other people have a different approach, but for me, it’s about love. I want this to make me richer on a human level. And it is working.”

With each of her three upcoming movies, she hopes that audiences can take away just as much as she did.

“With a great movie, you feel that you traveled to another civilization. With this craft, I can take you there. I can open your eyes to a new horizon, a new space, and new stories that you've never heard about, and people that you've never met,” says Alloush. “Each of these (films) can do that, I believe.”


Review: ‘Brazen’ — bizarre romantic murder mystery combines the worst of both genres

Review: ‘Brazen’ — bizarre romantic murder mystery combines the worst of both genres
Updated 21 January 2022

Review: ‘Brazen’ — bizarre romantic murder mystery combines the worst of both genres

Review: ‘Brazen’ — bizarre romantic murder mystery combines the worst of both genres
  • Netflix adaptation of Nora Roberts’ novel is a nonsensical mess

LONDON: When Alyssa Milano was announced as the lead in Netflix’s adaptation of Nora Roberts’ novel, “Brazen Virtue,” the author reported that she was deluged with comments from fans infuriated that Milano’s liberal politics did not square with their own. Many even threatened to boycott the movie in retaliation. Roberts, to her credit, welcomed them to exercise their right to do so. As it turns out, giving “Brazen” a miss is absolutely the right thing to do — not because of Milano’s personal beliefs, but because it’s an awful film.

Milano stars as Grace, a bestselling crime-fiction author who receives a call from her sister Kathleen (Emilie Ullerup), asking her to come visit. Kathleen has left her creepy husband, kicked her addiction to prescription meds, and retrained as a teacher in a bid to get sole custody of her son. Grace gives her the thumbs up, and concentrates on flirting with Kathleen’s hunky cop neighbor Ed (Sam Page). But when Kathleen is killed, and Ed inexplicably winds up heading the case, Grace focuses her problem-solving skillset on her late sister’s murder.

Milano stars as Grace, a bestselling crime-fiction author who receives a call from her sister Kathleen (Emilie Ullerup), asking her to come visit. (Supplied)

This is the jumping-off point for so many of the film’s inconceivable narrative contortions. Why is Ed, the victim’s neighbor, the only homicide cop available? Why are the police happy to let the victim’s (unqualified) sister be so heavily involved? Why does nobody have any issue with the fact that the lead cop and the victim’s sister are constantly making googly eyes at each other? It’s absolute nonsense.

Milano and Page at least have the good grace to attempt a serious take on this joke of a script, even as “Brazen” — written by David Golden and directed by Monika Mitchell — asks them to plough through an increasingly ludicrous series of plot ‘twists’ and villain reveals. “Brazen” definitely achieves what it sets out to do — take a romance novel and cross it with a convoluted murder-mystery. That might sound like something approaching a compliment; it definitely isn’t intended that way.


Palestinian-Chilean singer Elyanna joins Spotify program with new collaboration

Palestinian-Chilean singer Elyanna joins Spotify program with new collaboration
Updated 20 January 2022

Palestinian-Chilean singer Elyanna joins Spotify program with new collaboration

Palestinian-Chilean singer Elyanna joins Spotify program with new collaboration

DUBAI: Palestinian-Chilean singer and songwriter Elyanna has joined Spotify’s fourth Radar installment in the Middle East, the music streaming platform announced on Thursday.

Radar is an emerging-artist program spotlighting rising talent from around the globe. Some of the program’s most popular collaborations include “Is It On” by K-pop sensation AleXa and Kuwaiti-Saudi-based artist Bader Al-Shuaibi, and “Hadal Ahbek” by viral A-pop star Issam Alnajjar, featuring Canadian DJ duo Loud Luxury and Iraqi-Canadian singer and songwriter Ali Gatie.

The new collaboration sees the 19-year-old upcoming star team up with veteran Tunisian rapper and composer Balti on a single titled “Ghareeb Alay” (“A Stranger to Me”). The track, which fuses urban pop with reggae, will drop on Jan. 21.

In a statement, Elyanna said: “While ‘Ghareeb Alay’ characterizes the story of a love song, it’s much deeper than that. It reflects change, both around us and within.

“For me, it is about being an immigrant, an artist, and a young female at the beginning of my journey. Everything and everyone feels new and strange.”

On Tuesday, the singer teased 16-seconds of the song on her Instagram and wrote to her 440,000 followers, “who’s readyyyyyy?”

On his excitement about the collaboration, Tunisia’s rap pioneer said: “‘Ghareeb Alay’ is one of my all-time favorites. Together with Elyanna, we’ve managed to bring forward a new style of Arabic urban pop backed by Spotify’s vision for local talents.”