Arab artists shine at Art Dubai 2022

Arab artists shine at Art Dubai 2022
Lebanese-American poet and painter Etel Adnan is widely loved for her colorful and simple landscape paintings. (Supplied)
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Updated 18 March 2022

Arab artists shine at Art Dubai 2022

Arab artists shine at Art Dubai 2022
  • Rawaa Talass selects highlights from regional artists’ works shown at this year’s edition of the art fair

MANAL ALDOWAYAN

The Saudi artist has experimented with a wide range of artistic mediums, from photography to installation. But, whatever the medium, her work often explores Arab women’s place in, and relationship with, society. 2005’s “The Choice” is a monochrome series of symbolic contrasts: For example, a woman dressed in traditional clothing holds a steering wheel, while another casts a vote at the ballot box. According to a statement made by the artist, the collection is “a dialogue that discusses the restrictions placed on women due to local traditions that have become entwined with religion and identity.” This beautifully shot image, “The Choice IV,” could be seen as an act of determination and defiance, or of aspiration: Does she have to choose between traditions and playing sports, or can both coexist? Like many of AlDowayan’s works, interpretations vary, generating a thought-provoking debate.

MUSTAPHA AKRIM

The Moroccan artist — who often incorporates Arabic calligraphy into his socio-political, concrete installations — created this new piece, “Khayali” (My Imagination), from rusted metal. It was inspired by Moroccan author Mohamed Choukri’s 1970s autobiographical book “For Bread Alone,” in which Choukri, who only learned to read and write aged 20, discussed the many challenges he had faced in his life, including poverty, imprisonment, and a famine that forced him and his family to flee their mountain village to Tangier. The material from which Akrim’s piece is both a symbol of crudeness and could also refer to his father’s work in the construction business. It consists of layers of Arabic text — one on top of another — taken from Choukri’s book: “I hate all of those who are like my father,” “I find refuge in my imagination” and “Say your word before you die.”

ETEL ADNAN

In 2021, the art world lost one of its most-prominent female artists, the Lebanese-American poet and painter Etel Adnan, who was widely loved for her colorful and simple landscape paintings. Her affinity for wool tapestry is less-well-known, but she actually began making tapestry drafts in the 1960s after seeing a medieval work called “The Lady and The Unicorn” at a Paris museum. This 2018 work, “Soleil Couchant” (Sunset), was created in association with artisans in Aubusson, France. Adnan interprets a vibrant sunset in her typically minimal way with thick, block-like lines. The dark red rectangle at the center of the work represents the sun, and the sky is speckled with blue, yellow, and orange lines for a fiery effect. 

DIA MRAD

The Lebanese photographer has been photographing the streets and buildings of Beirut for years. Following the Beirut Port explosion of 2020, Mrad began capturing the many sites damaged in the blast. This image, “Back Petal,” was taken inside the city’s abandoned Grand Theater, which opened in the 1920s and was badly damaged in the Lebanese Civil War. The theater’s yellow dome is surrounded by charming turquoise and lilac, but there are signs of neglect and disintegration. “The exterior facade was renovated and the inside was left as it is,” explained Mrad. “It is very indicative of Lebanon and how we really embellish things from the outside, but inside it’s really broken and corrupted.” 

MOATAZ NASR

“Arabesque” is a 2021 work that the Egyptian conceptual artist created by pressing hundreds of matchsticks, topped with different colors, onto a wooden surface. The outcome is visually inviting and hypnotizing — styled after the decorative motifs that are found in cultural and religious monuments in the region. The work contains a message of diversity in its rich, eclectic mélange of red, blue, and green. But it also presents a cautionary tale, as a statement published by the artist’s representative, Galleria Continua makes clear: “Every combustible element could, if lit, sweep away beauty and harmony.”

HUDA LUTFI

In 1991, this self-taught Egyptian visual artist underwent surgery and was confined to bed. As a result, she created her first photo-collage from collected images. She has continued this experimental and playful practice to this day. A cultural historian, Lutfi’s surreal, bizarre work is a commentary on pop-culture, politics, memory, local traditions, women’s social standing in Egypt, and urban life in the bustling streets of Cairo, where Lutfi lives. “Playing with Scissors” references the ubiquitous plastic mannequins in downtown Cairo’s store windows. In the artist’s eyes, the dolls are a sign of mass consumerism, globalization, waste and excess, and objectification of the female body. 

MOHAMED AHMED IBRAHIM

“Fruits Garden” is a brand new painting by the Emirati artist, who will represent his country at the Venice Biennale in May. It’s a joyful and bedazzling painting that instantly attracts the eye, thanks to its bright blues, greens, and pinks and totem-like symbols, a signature element of Ibrahim’s paintings. The symbols embody a variety of shapes; some look toothy, others resemble cartoon bones. Ibrahim has created a unique style that also reflects his interest in archaeology. “His works on paper reveal his own form of language — inscriptions, lines and abstract forms that are reminiscent of ancient cave drawings — marking time and memory through meditative repetition,” reads a description written by his gallery Lawrie Shabibi. 

ASMA KHOORY

The Emirati artist’s installation “Recollection” explores memory, time, and human relations. Each patch is a simple teabag filter, dipped into tea and hung to dry, representing a passing moment in time. Just like memory itself, some are vivid and others are fading. “The filter is a material to evoke a sense of memory; mimicking false age, depicting the past, and exposing aspects of deception and simulation,” Khoory has said of the work. “Memory is a cycle of visiting and revisiting, controlled and uncontrolled, from reality to fabrication, but what happens in the concealed in-between, where moments fade into each other?”


 The Roundup: Pop-culture highlights from across the region

 The Roundup: Pop-culture highlights from across the region
Updated 16 sec ago

 The Roundup: Pop-culture highlights from across the region

 The Roundup: Pop-culture highlights from across the region
  • From an Algerian indie veteran and Lebanese newcomers to Libyan trap-pop and Egyptian ‘mind-map art,’ here are six regional artists making waves with their work

Souad Massi

‘Dessine-Moi Un Pays’ 

The Algerian singer-songwriter’s first single from her upcoming tenth album “Sequana” is a deceptively simple folk-tinged ballad — stripped back but with a beautifully subtle acoustic guitar line over which Massi’s emotive, yearning vocals fit perfectly. Syrian flautist Naïssam Jalal adds an impressive solo. The song’s title translates as “Draw Me A Land,” and Massi said in a press release that it was inspired by exile. “Those people who (clung) to planes leaving Kabul when the Taliban returned — it was for them that I wrote this song,” she explained. “Whilst rooted in France, there is a sense the song is filled with memories of a lost Algeria and of her childhood,” the release states.

Yazan Abu Salameh

‘Bending Toward The Sun’

The Palestinian artist’s solo exhibition is available to view in 3D online until July 30, courtesy of Ramallah’s Zawyeh Gallery. The show’s title is a reference to how plants seek light, but Abu Salameh’s works are concerned with finding the light in Palestine’s densely built-up towns, where expansion is restricted by the occupation. His ink paintings reference Israel’s “Seperation Wall” and other military structures. The show includes “Gift Box 3,” shown here.

“The sun dominates Abu Salameh’s artworks and appears in the background overlooking structures of concrete,” the gallery’s press release explains. “The melancholy of the urban environment and the overwhelming presence of concrete as a byproduct of the military occupation overshadows the works.” Abu Salameh’s boxes of “congested buildings with little white windows” are left partly open “as if the towns desire to escape confinement.”  

Felula 

‘Seket’ (live)

Recorded during Felula’s performance for the 10th anniversary celebrations of Beirut Jam Sessions, this funky Arabic pop track shows off the duo’s knack for laying earworm-y hooks under Sara Abdo’s understated-but-powerful vocals. The show was actually Abdo and guitarist Roger Zouein’s first performance as Felula, but they played like they’d been doing it for years. 


Museum of the Future unveils bold vision for the Dubai of tomorrow during event in Paris

Museum of the Future unveils bold vision for the Dubai of tomorrow during event in Paris
Updated 01 July 2022

Museum of the Future unveils bold vision for the Dubai of tomorrow during event in Paris

Museum of the Future unveils bold vision for the Dubai of tomorrow during event in Paris
  • Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation, described the new museum as the latest addition to the list of world’s most celebrated cultural landmarks
  • He was speaking during the 26th International Trade Show for Museums, a prestigious three-day event that took place at the Louvre Museum this week

PARIS: The UAE’s Museum of the Future has unveiled its bold vision for the Dubai of tomorrow. It presented its ideas during the 26th International Trade Show for Museums, a three-day event at the Louvre Museum in Paris that attracted many of the world’s leading cultural institutions.

The delegation at the event, which concluded on Thursday, was led by Khalfan Belhoul, the CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation, and also included Lath Carlson, the executive director of the Museum of the Future, and Majed Al-Mansoori, its deputy executive director.

The museum, which is located in Dubai’s Financial District and opened in February, was invited to attend the trade show to share its ideas for incubating a new generation of talent and helping to build a better future for humanity.

By embracing the latest breakthroughs in advanced technology, its team also aims to offer unparalleled visitor experiences and help to stimulate the cultural economy of Dubai.

“Our presence here in Paris represents a golden opportunity to engage with like-minded peers and establish deeper ties as we create pioneering experiences in a museum focused on making history by perceiving the future,” Belhoul said.

He described the Museum of the Future as the latest addition to the list of the world’s most celebrated cultural landmarks and added that it has set new benchmarks in the design and development of cultural landmarks.

“Today, it serves as an incubator for bright minds to accelerate big ideas that can strengthen Dubai’s position as a place to address some of the world’s most complex challenges,” he said.

By embracing cutting-edge technology and the pursuit of innovation to drive social, economic and environmental growth, Dubai is helping to unify global efforts to build a better future for humankind, added Belhoul.


What We Are Playing Today: Akfosh

What We Are Playing Today: Akfosh
Updated 01 July 2022

What We Are Playing Today: Akfosh

What We Are Playing Today: Akfosh
  • This Arabic card game is a great deal of fun to play with a large group

Akfosh is an Arabic game that contains 55 picture cards on various subjects, including Saudi cultural items, well-known locations across the country, and even fruit and vegetables.

The Saudi-specific fashion items include the shemagh (male headdress), burqa, madas (sandal), dallah (coffee pot), finjan (coffee cup), and miswak (twig to clean your teeth). The landmarks include Jeddah’s fountain and the Kingdom Center in Riyadh, while the other cards feature Arab-related icons such as tents and camels.

The game allows between two and eight players to participate. There are different styles of playing, with the most popular having every player with one card face down in front of them, and the rest of the deck placed in the middle. When the game starts, each player flips their card to see it and then tries to grab a matching one from the middle first. The player with the most cards wins.

Akfosh is one of my favorite Arabic card games and is a great deal of fun to play with a large group. It relies on your visual observation, and it gets everyone competitive because it is so fast-paced.

Carrying the small box is quite easy, it fits perfectly in my handbag. I always have my Akfosh cards with me if I know many people will be at a gathering or outing. It is a fun activity that brings people together.

The game suits all ages and can be found across the Kingdom at Virgin megastores, Jarir bookstores, and even through online platforms such as Noon, Lifestyley and Amazon.

 

 


‘It was way overdue’: Sam Asghari opens up about marrying Britney Spears

‘It was way overdue’: Sam Asghari opens up about marrying Britney Spears
Updated 30 June 2022

‘It was way overdue’: Sam Asghari opens up about marrying Britney Spears

‘It was way overdue’: Sam Asghari opens up about marrying Britney Spears

DUBAI: US-Iranian actor Sam Asghari has opened up about his marriage to pop superstar Britney Spears in his first interview since their June wedding.

The actor and dancer appeared on “Good Morning America” in a segment that aired Wednesday to promote his film, “Hot Seat.”

“The husband thing hasn’t hit me yet,” Asghari said, before discussing the wedding and saying, “It was way overdue for us. We imagined this thing being a fairytale, and it was. And we wanted to celebrate with, you know, our loved ones, our close people. We wanted to just celebrate, and that’s what we did.”

Until November 2021, Spears was under a conservatorship, which was handled by her estranged father Jamie Spears, and was unable to get married.

 

 

Following the termination of the conservatorship, the pair wed on June 9 in an intimate ceremony at their Los Angeles home. Guests included Madonna, Selena Gomez, Drew Barrymore, Paris Hilton, and Donatella Versace.

The up-and-coming actor is starring in the film “Hot Seat,” in which he plays a SWAT team officer alongside Shannen Doherty, Kevin Dillon, and Mel Gibson.

“My wife gave me, like, this amazing platform to work with,” he said. “So I’m always appreciative of that. And I’m always so grateful for that. I don’t take any opportunity that I have for granted, and I really try to stay positive with everything that’s happening.” 

They began dating in 2016 after meeting on the set of her “Slumber Party” music video.


Egyptian composer Hesham Nazih invited to join Academy of Motion Picture Arts

Famed composer Hesham Nazih. (Supplied)
Famed composer Hesham Nazih. (Supplied)
Updated 30 June 2022

Egyptian composer Hesham Nazih invited to join Academy of Motion Picture Arts

Famed composer Hesham Nazih. (Supplied)

DUBAI: Egyptian composer Hesham Nazih is among 397 individuals invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this year.

The organization that puts on the Oscars said Tuesday that 44 percent of the 2022 class identifies as women, 50 percent come from outside of the US and 37 percent are from underrepresented ethnic and racial communities. If the invitees accept, which most do, they will have voting privileges at the 95th Academy Awards.

Nazih, the only Egyptian invited this year, joins Oscar winners Ariana DeBose, Troy Kotsur and Billie Eilish, as well as Iranian actor Amir Jadidi on the list.

Other actors invited this year include Anya Taylor-Joy, Jessie Buckley, Gaby Hoffman, “Belfast” co-stars Jamie Dornan and Caitríona Balfe, as well as Jesse Plemons and Kodi Smit-McPhee, both of “The Power of the Dog.” 

The 95th Academy Awards will be held in Los Angeles on March 12, 2023.

Across more than 40 films over an award-winning 20-year-span, Nazih has heightened each project he’s scored, from “Son of Rizk” to “Blue Elephant.” Now, the composer for Marvel’s TV show “Moon Knight,” Nazih has officially made the crossover that only a handful of true international greats, such as Ennio Morricone and A.R. Rahman, have pulled off before him.

“I knew this was huge step for me,” Nazih previously told Arab News. “Working with Marvel was a game changer for my career. I had countless thoughts in my head, and I had to fight a lot of them off.”