Russia demands Finland return seized artworks/node/2058796/art-culture
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)
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.
“I don’t really give lectures to my kids. I don’t sit down and say how you should live your life. I let them live their life and create their own,” he said. “Go out and make life for yourself as if I don’t exist and you’re not looking for a man to take care of you. I think that is kind of (what) I see in my kids.
“They’re all self-made on their own without my help,” he added. “The only thing that I helped them with is that I am there to love them and if they need any advice, they can call me, but be your own person.”
When asked to describe his children in one word each, Hadid said Gigi is a “genius,” Bella is a “princess” and Anwar is a “king.”
Hadid said that Bella was what the princess of Nazareth was called, and he feels his daughter represents royalty.
“Gigi is a genius because she I think has found a way to insert herself in the fashion industry in a way that not too many people can,” he said. “She can design, she can model … she is eloquent, she has this combination that is hard to put in one human.”
“She makes companies famous. People sometimes think a model is just a model. She’s not a model she is really a spokeswoman,” he added.
He also revealed that Gigi, who is a mother to her two-year-old daughter with Zayn Malik, Khai, wanted to be a forensic psychologist.
When it comes to Anwar, Hadid said he is “very special.” “He’s an artist. He’s a musician. He’s very down to earth. He has very little need for physical things… I just love the way he is.”
Christie’s Dubai turns itself into a garden of jewels to attract Gulf collectors
Updated 31 January 2023
Shyama Krishna Kumar
DUBAI: Christie’s Dubai has transformed itself into a veritable garden until Feb. 3 to present its latest jewelry-selling exhibition, “Garden of Wonders,” featuring pieces estimated between $10,000 to a whopping $4.5 million.
Partnering with A2Z, an art advisory service founded by Abdulrahman H. Al-Zayani for private clients in the Gulf who wish to expand their jewelry collections, the exhibition is an opportunity for visitors to dive into an exotic garden filled with jewelry inspired by nature.
The exhibition features a finely curated selection of pieces made from precious gemstones including diamonds, sapphires, emeralds and rubies alongside a large selection of important natural saltwater pearl pieces, including pearls originating from the Gulf region.
“It is a privilege for Christie’s to work with A2Z. Our friend, Abdulrahman, has been a colleague for years now, but he was a collector even before he was a colleague. He’s always had good eyes and is an esteemed friend,” said Julien Brunie, senior director and international head of private sales jewelry at Christie’s, in an interview with Arab News.
Brunie went on to explain how the partnership with the art advisory is a way for Christie’s to ensure quality and selectivity in the pieces they offer.
“Christie’s is the world’s leading auction house since 1766. We have a fabulous network of experts, clients, friends and collectors. But we don’t have Christie’s branded pieces to sell. So, we bring to the market what we think is the best,” added Brunie.
The exhibition is led by a stunning diamond bracelet by Harry Winston comprising 99 emerald-cut diamonds of 141.00 carats in total with a central stone of 11.32 carats. Made in 1975, this comes from a private collection in the Middle East.
Al-Zayani, who founded A2Z advisory in 2018, spoke about the designers and jewelers to watch out for at the exhibition.
“We have bigger, older names such as Harry Winston, Cartier and Van Cleef. And then from the newer names, we tried to collect or curate from all over the world. This time we’re starting from India with jewelers like VAK, for example. Vishal (Kothari) is a very young, dynamic guy based out of Mumbai, and he works very nicely with cutting stones. His prices are not steep yet. He just recently showcased his work at Bergdorf Goodman in New York. So, he’s fun,” said Al-Zayani, adding other up-and-coming names like Greek designer Nikos Koulis, Brazilian designer Fernando Jorge, and London-based jeweler Noor Fares to the list.
Al-Zayani also pointed to the establishment of Christie’s Dubai as a catalyst for the growing interest in jewelry collection in the Middle East. “I think Christie’s has definitely added a lot by creating this space in Dubai International Financial Center. They’ve spent beautifully on it, and it’s next to the nicest restaurants. It’s a very nice atmosphere and, most importantly, you feel so safe. Even if you’re walking on the street with a $10 million ring, there’s no way anyone’s going to touch you,” he said.
Brunie chimed in to also point out that the Middle East, in general, has always had good taste when it comes to jewelry.
“We were discussing only yesterday about the collection in the region and that it’s rare to find outdated pieces in the region. You find classic pieces. That’s something that speaks to the taste for good jewels here,” said Brunie.
‘Exciting, overwhelming’: Officials and visitors hail Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah
US art professors praise Saudi pride in national narrative
Updated 30 January 2023
JEDDAH: After several years in the making, Jeddah’s Islamic Arts Biennale is offering visitors from across the Kingdom and around the globe ‘eye-opening’ access to Islamic art.
Themed “Awwal Bait,” or “The First House,” the event is taking place at the 1983 Aga Khan award-winning Western Hajj Terminal, which began accepting guests on the Jan. 23 launch.
The 118,000-square-meter space is housing five galleries, two pavilions and one grand canopy, 280 artifacts, as well as more than 50 new commissioned artworks from around the Muslim world.
Rakan Al-Touq, the vivacious vice chair of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, and also general supervisor of cultural affairs and international relations at the Ministry of Culture, hailed the event’s launch success.
Wearing a crisp white thobe and flashing a genuine smile, Al-Touq was visibly moved by how the event came together.
“We were super excited — this is a project a few years in the making, since 2019. It’s also been a passion project for me, personally. And we have a stellar group of people who came together for this project — a small but mighty team,” he told Arab News.
Al-Touq stressed the need for non-commercial experiences in which all hands are brought on deck to elevate concepts and cultures within Islamic art.
Bringing together never-before-seen priceless artifacts juxtaposed with freshly commissioned contemporary pieces within the space was like building a jigsaw puzzle from scratch, he added.
• Bringing together never-before-seen priceless artifacts juxtaposed with freshly commissioned contemporary pieces within the space was like building a jigsaw puzzle from scratch, said Rakan Al-Touq, the vice chair of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation.
• The Islamic Arts Biennale is also meant to serve as a global reframe of Islamic art as a discipline, with the diversity of curators at the Islamic Arts Biennale a notable achievement.
To create a cohesive and visually stunning space in which different areas and sensibilities were represented was quite a feat, Al-Touq said. Securing the iconic location to launch the world’s very first Islamic biennale was also significant to him and the team, he added.
Al-Touq said that the cooperation and support from the Saudi leadership, including Prince Badr Al-Saud, the minister of culture and governor of the Royal Commission for AlUla, has ensured the success of the monumental project.
The vice-chair’s praise went beyond the glamorous opening night ceremony, attended by many members of the royal family and public.
He took pride in the fact that half of the artists taking part in the event are Saudi.
“In 2019, we were planning for 2023 and the meeting point of doing something that is so, frankly, related to the identity of the Ministry of Culture and to Saudi Arabia, in a format that has never been done.
“To think about a biennale format for Islamic arts, that can bring together ancient history and current, and hopefully inspire future productions of art, just felt like the right thing to do.
We’re just really moved and we just feel like students, wide-eyed observing and learning, and taking it all in. It’s going to be amazing to take that all back into our classrooms.
Dr. Stephennie Mulder, Professor in Islamic Art at University of Austin, US
“The team and the Diriyah Biennale Foundation started looking at options of locations and how we ended up here at the Hajj Terminal is also an important thing,” Al-Touq said.
CEO of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation Aya Al-Bakree, Al-Touq’s co-pilot in launching the event, said: “We are keen for people to join the dialog and experience the sense of community that the faith can evoke through art.”
The Islamic Arts Biennale is also meant to serve as a global reframe of Islamic art as a discipline , with the diversity of curators at the Islamic Arts Biennale a notable achievement.
Jennifer Pruitt, assistant professor in Islamic Art History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, traveled from the US to the Kingdom to visit the biennale with her friend, Dr. Stephennie Mulder, a professor in Islamic Art at the University of Austin, US.
Although immersed in the Middle East through their work, the two had very few expectations but were cautiously optimistic about their first visit to the Kingdom.
Before basking in the works displayed at the Islamic Arts Biennale, they spent eight whirlwind hours in Madinah and managed to explore AlUla before arriving in Jeddah.
“It's been a really exciting and overwhelming experience. My friend and I are here together and we’re both professors of Islamic arts. We’ve read about this space — we’ve read about Saudi Arabia,” Pruitt said.
“I knew that people would be friendly and warm, which everyone has been, in fact. We were commenting on the fact that unlike any trip we’ve taken, we literally haven’t encountered anyone that has been rude or annoying.
“Really everyone has been exceptionally warm and forthcoming,” she told Arab News.
“We’ve been to a lot of Islamic art shows and I think I think we all … we both agree that this is kind of in a really high category of quality and ambition, and execution,” she added.
The pair’s trip to Madinah was eye-opening — something that they were happy to experience first before venturing to the biennale.
“It was really powerful to see people kind of streaming to this sacred spot in Madinah. It was incredibly moving,” Mulder told Arab News.
“What we teach in our classes, which is that the power of Islam is all of these people converging like that … that that the power is not in the relic or in the architecture, but in these places where people pray … and I think that was really embodied seeing all these people from all over the world streaming into Madinah,” she added.
Due to earlier periods of restrictions, Saudi Arabia had been absent from the center of the Islamic art world for a long time.
But the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 and the introduction of tourist visas as well as academic trips has sought to change that.
“For me, like Jennifer, I just wanted to come here and be a student, and learn and observe,” Mulder said.
“We have this feeling that we’re here at the moment … of a people really discovering and being proud of and being able to construct their national narrative collectively.
“And having the freedom to do that — maybe for the first time very openly, and with a kind of joy.”
Both professors said that the enriching experience has encouraged them to change the way they teach upon their return to the US.
Although a picture is worth a thousand words, the pair said that Islamic art archive images are often “sterile,” and fail to encapsulate the feeling of experiencing art in person.
The sensation of standing beneath a monument while the Adhan (call to prayer) reverberates cannot be replicated through archives, they said.
The two professors are also keen to work and collaborate with Saudi archaeologists.
“We’re just really moved and we just feel like students, wide-eyed observing and learning, and taking it all in. It’s going to be amazing to take that all back into our classrooms,” Mulder said.
“I’m going to teach differently now; it’s kind of been percolating for a few days. I was telling Jennifer, even to have photographs of things we didn’t know before.
“We’re both architectural historians — it’s really important for us to have a sense of space and how people move through it.”
The biennale is free of charge for all visitors. It is also hosting 117 education workshops and more than 25 panel discussions.
The public programming schedule, including talks and screenings, is updated in real time.
The Islamic Arts Biennale, launched to the public on Jan. 23, will remain open until April 23.
Tickets can be booked via the official Diriyah Biennale website and on social media channels.
The space is open for visitors to roam the grounds and exhibits between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Thursdays, and between 2 p.m. and 11 p.m. on Fridays.
Makkah governor inaugurates Hira Cultural District project
Prince Khalid Al-Faisal inaugurated project; first phase to include Revelation Gallery, Holy Qur’an Museum, and more
Updated 30 January 2023
MAKKAH: Makkah Gov. Prince Khalid Al-Faisal inaugurated the Hira Cultural District project on Sunday in a ceremony held at the district’s headquarters at the foot of Mount Hira in Makkah.
The Hira Cultural District aims to enrich the religious and cultural experience of visitors, especially at sites that hold historical importance for Muslims.
Saleh bin Ibrahim Al-Rasheed, CEO of the Royal Commission for Makkah City and Holy Sites, praised the unwavering support of the Makkah governor for the project.
Al-Rasheed said that he is hopeful the project will succeed in its objectives as part of Saudi Vision 2030.
The project is implemented by Samaya Investment Co. in cooperation with other competent entities. It consists of the Revelation Gallery, the Holy Qur’an Museum, and various cultural elements and services.
The district seeks to be a suitable family place with a hall dedicated to children, where they can enjoy various entertaining and educational activities. Visitors will also be able to have a good time at the Hira park, enjoying nature, cafes, restaurants, and other facilities.
The Revelation Gallery will highlight the revelations made to the Prophet Muhammed through an advanced technical presentation. The visitor can enjoy a real-dimension model of Hira cave where he is believed to have received the first revelation of the Holy Qur’an.
The Revelation Gallery aims to acquaint visitors with the history and legacy of the Prophet Muhammad’s mission, through presentations from the pre-Islamic era to the present.
The Holy Qur’an Museum introduces the sacred text, spreads its message and universality, and depicts its impact on the lives of Muslims through a wide system of modern technologies and distinctive collectibles, in addition to displaying a collection of precious manuscripts.
Work is also underway to execute a road equipped with signs and safety measures for those wishing to climb the mountain to reach the cave.
The district seeks to be a suitable family place with a hall dedicated to children, where they can enjoy various entertaining and educational activities.
Visitors will also be able to have a good time at the Hira park, enjoying nature, cafes, restaurants, and other facilities.
This is the first phase of the Hira Cultural District project, executed under the direct supervision of the Royal Commission for Makkah City and the Holy Sites, in cooperation with Makkah province, the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Tourism, the Municipality of Makkah, the Pilgrims Service Program and the General Authority of Endowments.
It aims to develop the site in a manner befitting its historical status, and the status of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as the cradle of Islam and home of various holy places and historical sites.