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.


Thalothya: The art community that sparked a Madinah revolution

Thalothya: The art community that sparked a Madinah revolution
Updated 10 August 2022

Thalothya: The art community that sparked a Madinah revolution

Thalothya: The art community that sparked a Madinah revolution
  • Artist Meshal Al-Hujaili launched a community project of talks called Thalothya to support artists by educating them on other parts of their careers
  • Al-Hujaili began his journey in the art world at a young age by drawing graffiti before taking another direction

RIYADH: The artist’s main focus is on the aesthetic aspect of life, leaving material concerns behind, leaving many artists struggling to understand the economic world, sparking confusion over pricing their paintings and profiting from their talents.

This was one of the reasons that artist Meshal Al-Hujaili was inspired to launch a community project of talks called “Thalothya” to support artists by educating them on more parts of their careers.

Thalothya emerged as an artistic community concerned with spreading artistic culture, enhancing the creative side of the artists, and exchanging experiences.

Their goal is to create a healthy artistic environment in which practitioners find support and expertise to develop their art. The sessions are held once a month in Madinah.

The group also organizes monthly dialogue sessions, regular presentations on the artists’ latest works, online interviews with an eclectic range of influential artists, and discussions on the journey that each artist took and its impact on their craft.

“Thalothya started in an informal way between me and my artist friends, and I decided to set up a meeting to discuss art. Then I was surprised that the topic started to spread among artists and that a large number wanted to attend courses. The news spread in the city. We started with 15 people, and the last session was attended by 60 artists,” Al-Hujaili told Arab News.

Al-Hujaili said that because of the crowds of people who wanted to attend the event, the sessions were moved from a cafe to art galleries in Madinah, where there are halls to accommodate 200 people in the session.

“Many people want to join the discussion circles, which is why I refuse the requests of many cafes and places that want to host us because I know that the place will not accommodate us,” said Al-Hujaili, adding: “Thalothya created an artistic revolution in Madinah.”

He said: “The topics we raise are not purely artistic, so we talk about the legal aspect of art, and 90 percent of artists do not know how to legally preserve their works or price their works. We help them to dialogue and talk in a safe space and host different topics each time. 

“For example, we once discussed the subject of ‘art block’ during our research, and we found a definition that is completely different from what we thought, and we present a new aspect that focuses on the topic of marketing and the problems that the artist goes through, why an artist appears and becomes famous suddenly, and then he is isolated and disappears.”

Al-Hujaili’s paintings are distinguished by geometric formations. He began his journey in the art world at a young age by drawing graffiti before taking another direction.

“I started my graffiti from primary to secondary school, and I drew graffiti, then art took a new curve. For six years, I only drew straight lines and worked on drawing geometric shapes, and the result was special, as I was unique in my art, in which I put my fingerprint. I was requested to paint a mural at the Arab Open University in Madinah,” he said.

The dialogues were not limited to male artists, with women making up a large share of the discussion.

Basma Al-Bloshi, a portrait artist, said: “What distinguishes Thalothya is that it cares about the artist’s aspects, both psychologically and practically, and we discuss the things that develop the artist.”

She continued: “The idea of Thalothya is to educate the artist about other aspects of art. One of our goals is to spread Thakothya throughout the Kingdom.”


Palestinian-American comedian Mo Amer releases trailer for Netflix’s ‘Mo’ 

Palestinian-American comedian Mo Amer releases trailer for Netflix’s ‘Mo’ 
Updated 10 August 2022

Palestinian-American comedian Mo Amer releases trailer for Netflix’s ‘Mo’ 

Palestinian-American comedian Mo Amer releases trailer for Netflix’s ‘Mo’ 

DUBAI: Palestinian-American comedian Mo Amer released on Tuesday the trailer to his upcoming Netflix show “Mo.” 

The eight-episode series, which will be released on Aug. 24, centers on a Palestinian immigrant family living in Houston, Texas. It follows Mo Najjar, played by Amer, who straddles the line between two cultures, three languages and a pending asylum request, all while hustling to support his family, which includes his mother, sister and older brother. 

Jordanian-Kuwaiti-Palestinian actress Farah Bsieso stars as Mo’s mother Yusra Najjar, while Egyptian-American actor Omar Elba portrays Sameer Najjar, Mo’s older brother, who has social anxiety. 

Rapper Tobe Nwigwe plays Nick, Mo’s oldest, most loyal friend and Mexican-American actress Teresa Ruiz stars as Mo’s girlfriend Maria. 

Amer also serves as executive producer in the series, along with his “Ramy” co-star and friend Egyptian-American Golden Globe-winner Ramy Youssef, who also appears in the show. 

In December, Amer told Arab News that he is at a point in his career where he is able to share his stories with a wider audience than ever before through an artistic medium that allows viewers to experience both his perspective and that of the Palestinian people in an intimate way.

“That’s why I think the art of stand-up is so liberating. It’s never been about the money,” he said. “Making money is great, and I want to make what I can, but it’s about telling great stories. I’m less concerned about money, and more concerned about punching above my weight. Creating a masterpiece is a worthy trek. That’s how I feel. That’s where I’m at right now with my stand-up, and my TV show.”

Amer began his career in comedy in his early teens and soon discovered that no one was telling stories about his experience or that of Arabs in general.

“I first got on stage at 14 years old, and I started touring when I was 17. Immediately, I started noticing that there was this huge gap,” he said. “There was no real representation at all on any of those stages of Arabs or Muslims. I said to myself, ‘OK, why don’t I introduce it?’”

With “Mo,” “Mo Amer: Mohammed in Texas,” “Mo Amer: The Vagabond” and “Ramy,” the comedian has and still is sharing the stories of both his family and his people. 


Qatar to transform into outdoor art museum ahead of FIFA World Cup 2022

Qatar to transform into outdoor art museum ahead of FIFA World Cup 2022
Richard Serra's 'East-West, West-East.' (Supplied)
Updated 10 August 2022

Qatar to transform into outdoor art museum ahead of FIFA World Cup 2022

Qatar to transform into outdoor art museum ahead of FIFA World Cup 2022

DUBAI: Ahead of the fast-approaching FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Qatar Museums has announced an expansive public art program that will be rolled out not just in the capital city of Doha but throughout the country. The nation’s public spaces — parks, shopping zones, rail stations, hotel plazas, cultural institutions, Hamad International Airport and the eight World Cup 2022 stadiums — will be transformed into a “vast outdoor art museum,” with 40 new pieces being added to the already existing 70 pieces across the country.

Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, chairperson of Qatar Museums, said in a statement, “The addition of 40 new, major works of public art this fall is a significant milestone for Qatar’s public art program. Public art is one of our most prominent demonstrations of cultural exchange, where we present works from artists of all nationalities and backgrounds. From the arrivals at the best airport in the world — Hamad International Airport — to every neighborhood in our nation, public art is there to make your experience unique."

 

 

Comprised of more than 100 artworks, the public art extravaganza will feature 40 new and commissioned pieces. New works from international heavyweights will include artists Olafur Eliasson, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, KAWS, Rashid Johnson, Ernesto Neto, Lawrence Weiner, Faye Toogood, Katharina Fritsch, and others.

Qatari and MENA region artists whose work will be presented in the public art program include Adel Abidin, Ahmed Al-Bahrani, Shouq Al-Mana, Shua’a Al-Muftah, Salman Al-Malek, Monira Al-Qadiri, Simone Fattal and Faraj Daham.

 

 

According to a press release shared by Qatar Museums, the country was among the first in the region to establish a public art program, which currently includes works from Richard Serra, Tom Claaseen, Bruce Nauman, Louise Bourgeois, Urs Fischer, Subodh Gupta, Dia Al-Azzawi and others.

“Qatar Museums’ public art program, more than anything else, serves as a reminder that art is all around us, not confined to museums and galleries, and can be enjoyed and celebrated whether you are going to work, or school, or the desert or the beach,” said Abdulrahman Ahmed Al-Ishaq, Qatar Museums’ Director of Public Art, in a statement.

The FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 kicks off on Nov. 21.


Tory Burch taps Arab models Malika El-Maslouhi, Imaan Hammam for summer campaigns

Tory Burch taps Arab models Malika El-Maslouhi, Imaan Hammam for summer campaigns
Updated 10 August 2022

Tory Burch taps Arab models Malika El-Maslouhi, Imaan Hammam for summer campaigns

Tory Burch taps Arab models Malika El-Maslouhi, Imaan Hammam for summer campaigns

DUBAI: US designer Tory Burch is spotlighting Arab models in the fashion label’s latest campaigns. 

Moroccan Italian model Malika El-Maslouhi posed for the brand’s activewear Tory Sport, while Dutch Egyptian Moroccan star Imaan Hammam was spotted in the label’s latest beauty campaign.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tory Sport (@torysport)

In a series of images shared on the brand’s Instagram page this week, 23-year-old runway star El-Maslouhi wore a pleated laser cut tennis skirt with a white tank top and a blue and beige cross body bag from the fashion house’s Summer 2022 tennis collection. 

In other pictures, the model wore a monogram jacquard anorak, a matching red-and-yellow yoga set and a white polo shirt. 

This is not the first time El-Maslouhi has collaborated with the US label.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tory Sport (@torysport)

In May, the designer tapped the model to showcase her eponymous brand’s pre-Fall 2022 collection via a series of campaign images.

The catwalk star, who was born in Milan to an Italian mother and a Moroccan father, also featured in the brand’s 2022 beach edit, sporting an array of summer-ready looks in the form of floral maxi skirts, romantic dresses, crochet bucket hats, strappy sandals and printed bikinis.

El-Maslouhi made her modeling debut when she was 18 and went on to captivate the industry.

In addition to gracing the runways of storied fashion houses that most models can only dream of — such as Dior, Chanel, Valentino and Jacquemus, among others — the fashion star has also appeared in international campaigns for the likes of Off-White, Calvin Klein and Lanvin.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tory Burch (@toryburch)

Meanwhile, Tory Burch also released five new fragrances for its beauty collection this week. For that campaign, the designer, who launched her brand in 2004, worked with Moroccan Egyptian Dutch model Hammam, who starred alongside US actress Havana Rose Liu, Romanian model Alexandra Micu and more. 

For the all-white beachside shoot, Hammam wore a crochet plunged maxi dress. Her hair was tied in a bun and her makeup was kept simple and fresh. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Tory Burch (@toryburch)

According to the brand, Burch’s five new fragrances — cosmic wood, divine moon, electric sky, sublime rose and mystic geranium — represent five dreams: freedom, peace, magic, love and joy. 


Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar heads to Dubai to promote new film ‘Raksha Bandhan’

Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar heads to Dubai to promote new film ‘Raksha Bandhan’
Updated 10 August 2022

Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar heads to Dubai to promote new film ‘Raksha Bandhan’

Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar heads to Dubai to promote new film ‘Raksha Bandhan’

DUBAI: Bollywood superstar Akshay Kumar jetted to Dubai to promote his new film “Raksha Bandhan” and opened up about his inspiration for the movie in a conversation with newspaper Khaleej Times.

The actor stopped by the newspaper’s office in the city, along with director Aanand L. Rai, to discuss the new movie, which celebrates the Indian festival of Raksha Bandhan — a day to honor the bond between brothers and sisters.

Kumar — who was recently revealed by the Indian government to be the country’s highest tax payer from the entertainment industry — opened up about the special relationship he shares with his own sister, Alka Bhatia.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar)

“I remember when my sister was born, we were taught (to) remember to take care of her! Whatever she asks for, don’t refuse, we were told. So, highest taxpayer or not, whatever is mine is my sister’s as well. There are no two opinions about this,” said the 54-year-old actor.

In “Raksha Bandhan,” Kumar stars as the only brother in a family of five siblings. Actresses Sadia Khateeb, Smrithi Srikanth, Deepika Khanna and Sahejmeen Kaur star as the four sisters. Actress Bhumi Pednekar features as his childhood sweetheart.

Kumar also stressed that he wanted to make the film because Rai was helming the project.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar)

“The kind of film I want to do is the kind of film he makes. The kind of humor I have, is the kind of humor he has. We both have that very quirky kind of mindset when it comes to making films, and he also has an agenda while making a film; there should be some learning, some takeaways. I want to do the same kind of films and whether it is ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha,’ ‘Pad Man’ or ‘Airlift,’ I have done many films like this,” said Kumar. “I have ruined his habit because he makes one film in three years and now, in two years, he has made two films with me. And we’re preparing for a third…”

Rai, meanwhile, said he’s attracted to the actor’s simplicity which exists despite his megastar status in India and beyond. “It’s fantastic for a director to have somebody without any complexes, going all out and living the moment without any fear that there are so many films he has to live up to. He lives up to that moment. That’s very important,” said the filmmaker, famous for his films like “Tanu Weds Manu,” “Ranjhanaa,” “Shubh Mangal Saavdhan” and “Manmarziyaan.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Akshay Kumar (@akshaykumar)

The film, Rai said, was a product of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I realized that in those few months when we were all not moving out and didn’t really know where it (Covid) would end or where it would go, we were quite insecure, living with a lot of fear. The only thing that was consistent at that moment was your family. You were eating together, sitting together, playing together; that was the only way to get rid of the fear,” said the director.

“Raksha Bandhan” releases in cinemas in the GCC on Aug. 11.