Russia demands Finland return seized artworks

Russia demands Finland return seized artworks
Images of wooden boxes containing art pieces loaned from Russian galleries to museums in Italy and Japan that have been seized by Finnish authorities in line with the enforcement of EU sanctions. (AFP)
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Updated 07 April 2022

Russia demands Finland return seized artworks

Russia demands Finland return seized artworks
  • Earlier Thursday the Finnish ambassador to Russia was summoned by the foreign ministry in Moscow over the seizure of valuables
  • "We have stressed that what is happening cannot be called anything other than legal lawlessness," the ministry said in a statement

MOSCOW: Moscow said Thursday it expected Finland to urgently return to Russia consignments of valuable works of art that have been seized by Finnish customs in line with Western sanctions.
After Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24, the EU adopted a series of sanctions including those prohibiting the sale, supply, transfer or export of luxury goods — including works of art — to Russia.
Earlier Thursday the Finnish ambassador to Russia, Antti Helantera, was summoned by the foreign ministry in Moscow over the seizure of valuables.
“We have stressed that what is happening cannot be called anything other than legal lawlessness,” the ministry said in a statement.
“Moscow is expecting an urgent decision of the Finnish authorities regarding the return of museum valuables to Russia.”
Three consignments of valuable art bound for Russia were seized by Finnish customs last weekend, suspected of contravening EU sanctions.
On Thursday afternoon, Finland’s Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto told reporters that Finland is in talks with Brussels to find a way to return the works to Russia as soon as possible.
“If there are paintings in circulation from museums that have been exhibited in other countries, they belong in those museums and should be returned there,” Haavisto said.
“The EU sanctions have not taken into account special circumstances such as these,” he added.
Having been on loan from Russian galleries to museums in Italy and Japan, the paintings, statues and antiques were being returned, with head of enforcement Sami Rakshit saying that some of the art came from Saint Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum.
The works of art will continue to be held in a warehouse until the situation is clarified or the sanctions are lifted, Finnish officials have said.


Lisbon museum showcases Arab influence on Portuguese cultural heritage

Lisbon museum showcases Arab influence on Portuguese cultural heritage
Updated 06 October 2022

Lisbon museum showcases Arab influence on Portuguese cultural heritage

Lisbon museum showcases Arab influence on Portuguese cultural heritage

MARBELLAA: One striking aspect of the Portuguese language is its historical link with the Arabic tongue. Along the country’s southern coast, for instance, one encounters small towns with names such as Almancil (meaning ‘the house’ in Arabic) in a region called Algarve, derived from ‘Al-gharb’ or ‘the West.’ In the 8th century, Moors from North Africa occupied Portugal for nearly 500 years, leaving a lasting effect on its culture. 

That effect is clearly seen in the ceramic square tiles that pepper the streets of Lisbon. Tiles are locally known as ‘azulejos’ and to understand their history, a visit to the capital’s National Azulejo Museum, which opened in the 1960s is a must. It is housed in a former convent that was founded by Queen Eleanor of Viseu in the 1500s. 

Home to more than 50,000 azulejos, the museum hosts a massive panel showing a panoramic view of ancient Lisbon; a gilded church; and a chapel studded with blue-and-white tiles, surprising visitors with its architectural splendor and diversity. 

“When people come to the museum, the reactions are very good,” the museum’s director, Alexandre Pais, told Arab News. “They don’t know what to expect and we are trying to make each area different, to create a variety of experiences.”

The term ‘azulejo’ comes from the Arabic word ‘zellig,’ a patterned type of mosaic tile work found in North Africa and Andalusia, Spain. “It started with the Arabs,” explained Pais. “We received azulejos in the beginning from Andalusia. The Arab heritage in Portuguese azulejos can be seen today in several aspects, including technique. For instance, we have the tradition of cutting the azulejos, which is very Arabic in terms of work.” 

Originally depicting scenes from the bible, mythology and everyday life, azulejos — which were also influenced by Dutch and Chinese porcelain — were a status symbol and reserved for private spaces, such as churches. They were only externalized to the facades of buildings by the bourgeoisie in the mid-19th century, becoming a national symbol. 

“The city became like a theatrical set,” said Pais. “Azulejos have a story of more than 500 years and it’s always changing. . . If you look at azulejos, you can understand the Portuguese, not just as a society but part of our soul — what it means to be Portuguese.”


Qatar reopens Museum of Islamic Art ahead of World Cup

Qatar reopens Museum of Islamic Art ahead of World Cup
Updated 05 October 2022

Qatar reopens Museum of Islamic Art ahead of World Cup

Qatar reopens Museum of Islamic Art ahead of World Cup
  • "We are the biggest Museum of Islamic Art in this region," said the museum director
  • The museum showcases 14 centuries of Islamic art and artefacts from around the world

DOHA: Qatar unveiled Tuesday its landmark Museum of Islamic Art after an 18-month renovation ahead of the World Cup in a bid to be a “showcase” for the Arab world.
“We are the biggest Museum of Islamic Art in this region... and we are in the middle of the Arab world,” said museum director Julia Gonnella. “Where better can you learn about Islamic culture and art and history than here?“
The museum showcases 14 centuries of Islamic art and artefacts from around the world.
Constructed on a purpose-built island on Doha’s waterfront promenade, the building is the work of the late US architect I.M. Pei, one of the best-known architects of the 20th century.
The five-story building has redesigned its collections, with some two-thirds of the thousand exhibits new to the museum.
“Before it was only about the art, now it’s about culture,” Gonnella said. “We really want to tell the stories behind the masterpieces.”
Qatar has spent billions of dollars on new stadiums for the first football World Cup in an Arab country, which kicks off on November 20.
As the sporting festival approaches, Doha is leading an cultural push, including erecting dozens of works of public art, and opened the Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum earlier this year.


How time flies at Riyadh ‘nostalgia’ exhibition

How time flies at Riyadh ‘nostalgia’ exhibition
Updated 05 October 2022

How time flies at Riyadh ‘nostalgia’ exhibition

How time flies at Riyadh ‘nostalgia’ exhibition
  • Misk Art Institute’s ‘Tales of Nostalgia’ opened at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Fine Arts Hall on Oct. 2 to showcase conceptual artworks by creators from Europe and the Middle East
  • ‘Cold Flux’ by London-based Ben Cullen Williams, explores the effects of global warming on the Larsen-B ice shelf, which splintered and almost entirely collapsed 20 years ago

RIYADH: A Riyadh art gallery has opened an exhibition exploring time, the mind and the changing world through installations by a dozen local and international artists.

Misk Art Institute’s “Tales of Nostalgia” opened at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Fine Arts Hall on Oct. 2 to showcase conceptual artworks by creators from Europe and the Middle East.

“Cold Flux” by London-based Ben Cullen Williams, explores the effects of global warming on the Larsen-B ice shelf, which splintered and almost entirely collapsed 20 years ago. The artist’s installation uses video taken during his own trip to Antarctica, and comparisons with later satellite imagery. 

His footage was passed through an AI algorithm that distorts and morphs the images as the shelf changes and disappears over time.

“I thought it’d be interesting to kind of potentially rebuild these landscapes through the use of technology, a thing that kind of destroyed it,” Williams told Arab News. “Fundamentally, it talks about our changing planet, how our planet is constantly moving and morphing. But it also kind of brings the question, is technology the solution to our current problems?”

“Novae”, an audio-visuel work by the French art collective Lab212, uses a recreated star field to explore the constellations and the history of astronomy, while sounds of nature and a poem by Prince Badr bin Abdulmohsen, “Khouf wa Sikat,” plays.

Saudi artist Abeer Sultan’s work, “An Imagined Perpetual Past” focuses on Medini marital traditions, and the bride’s anonymity and the extravagance of her clothing.

Daniah Alsaleh’s “Rewind, Play, Glitch” explores nostalgia and the distortion of memory by time through the use of digital photos on a living room wall that change and morph.

The MAI also exhibits various works from artists Muhannad Shono, Ayman Zedani, Asma Belhamar, Sultan bin Fahad, Zimoun, Fuse, Katie Paterson, and Laurent Grasso.

Nawaf Al-Harbi, MAI’s acting strategy & development director, told Arab News that he hoped the exhibition could also be used as a platform for cultural exchange opportunities.

“The aim is to continue the conversations, to get artists, especially the international ones, to run some workshops and master classes, so it's also part of the connection,” 

The exhibition runs until January 15, and is open to the public from 4 pm to 10 pm.


Art exhibition ‘Tales of Nostalgia’ debuts in Riyadh

Art exhibition ‘Tales of Nostalgia’ debuts in Riyadh
Updated 03 October 2022

Art exhibition ‘Tales of Nostalgia’ debuts in Riyadh

Art exhibition ‘Tales of Nostalgia’ debuts in Riyadh
  • Exhibition reflects upon notions of time and memory in an era of rapid change

RIYADH: The Misk Art Institute launched a new exhibition in Riyadh titled “Tales of Nostalgia” on Monday.

The exhibition showcases the works of 12 Saudi and international artists who reflect upon notions of time and memory, and nostalgia, exploring alternate narratives through emergent technologies.

Curated by Marnie Benney and Misk Art Institute assistant curator, Alia Ahmad Alsaud, it will be on display at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Art Gallery until Jan. 15. 

“‘Tales of Nostalgia’ is both a reflection upon and a conversation about where we are, as a species, in our endless, intertwined relationship with time and technology,” the organizers said. 

Featuring immersive digital soundscapes, the exhibition aims to shed light on an increasingly technological and digitized world, particularly the increasing importance of artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.

The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of talks, workshops, and opportunities to listen to and engage with participating artists over the course of several days.

 


Amal, George Clooney host inaugural Albie Awards

Amal, George Clooney host inaugural Albie Awards
Updated 01 October 2022

Amal, George Clooney host inaugural Albie Awards

Amal, George Clooney host inaugural Albie Awards

DUBAI: Lebanese human rights lawyer Amal Clooney and her actor husband George Clooney this week hosted the first-ever Albie Awards, an event created by the celebrity couple to honor individuals who, at great personal risk, have devoted their lives to justice.

The awards ceremony, which took place in New York City, is named after South African lawyer, activist, writer and former judge Justice Albie Sachs, who spent much of his life “defending people charged under racist statutes and repressive security laws.”

Amal was spotted on the red carpet wearing a silver and gold beaded Atelier Versace column gown and strappy silver Aquazzura sandals, while George wore a black tuxedo. (AFP)

Amal was spotted on the red carpet wearing a silver and gold beaded Atelier Versace column gown and strappy silver Aquazzura sandals, while George wore a black tuxedo.

The event was attended by A-list celebrities including Oscar Isaac, Dua Lipa, John Oliver, Julia Roberts, Drew Barrymore, Ethan Hawke and Meryl Streep.