Dubai Gallery presents Ghanaian contemporary art at Christie’s London

Dubai Gallery presents Ghanaian contemporary art at Christie’s London
El Anatsui, TT, 2021, Aluminium and copper wire, 300 cm x 620.6 cm. (Supplied)
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Updated 09 May 2022

Dubai Gallery presents Ghanaian contemporary art at Christie’s London

Dubai Gallery presents Ghanaian contemporary art at Christie’s London
  • Efie Gallery, which opened in Al-Quoz at the end of March, is staging a show of works by Ghanaian contemporary artists at Christie’s London

DUBAI: Works by three of Ghana’s top pioneering artists will go on display at a selling exhibition at Christie’s London staged in collaboration with the Dubai-based Efie Gallery. 

Titled “Material Earth,” the exhibition presents a total of 10 artworks by Ghanaian-born El-Anatsui, one of the world’s most sought after contemporary artists, alongside two rising stars — Yaw Owusu and Isshaq Ismail — until May 13 at Christie’s London on 8 King Street in Mayfair.

While El-Anatsui and Owusu transform everyday objects into forms of complex beauty with inherent socio-political messages, Ismail’s paintings feature captivating grotesque portraits of anonymous individuals inspired by those the artist sees every day in his hometown of Accra, Ghana. 




El Anatsui, Silent one, Aluminium and copper wire, 320 x 310 cm. (Supplied)

On view for the first time in Europe is a new series of wooden sculptures by El-Anatsui replete with the artist’s captivating abstract forms colored in vibrant hues. 

The exhibition takes place during a time when the international market’s demand for art from Africa is soaring. Over the last few years, art from the continent has become the subject of bidding wars at global auctions such as Bonhams, Piasa, Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Strauss and Phillips. In the first half of 2019, international sales of art from Africa generated a total of $25.3 million. According to Statista, art from the continent contributed a sum of $13 billion in 2018 to the global art market and is predicted to rise to $15 billion by 2023. 

Contemporary art from Ghana is particularly in demand — especially since Amoako Boafo’s “The Lemon Bathing Suit” (2019) sold for a stunning £675,000 ($881,432) against a £30,000-£50,000 estimate at Philips Contemporary Art Sale in February 2020. There was already a rising scene of young artists in the West African nation before Boafo’s incredible sale. His success has further inspired a new generation of Ghanaian artists eager to depict the history and contemporary culture of their country and make a profit in the process. 




Isshaq Ismail, Sentiments 17, 2021, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 50 in. (Supplied)

Artworks by Ismail, a rising young Ghanaian star, have recently fetched well over their high estimates at auction. At Sotheby’s dedicated African contemporary and modern sale in London on March 22, three of the artist’s works set personal sale records. “Nkabom 2,” an acrylic on canvas work depicting two heads, fetched £277,000, well above its high estimate of £50,000.

“The growing international demand has bred with it a new sense of respectability for the genre of art from Africa,” Kwame and Kobi Mintah told Arab News. “While previously artists and artwork from Africa has been overlooked, now they cannot be ignored.”

The “Material Earth” exhibition, a collaboration between Efie Gallery — which opened at the end of March 2022 with a blockbuster solo show of work by the great El-Anatsui — and Christie’s, marks a continuation of the auction house’s engagement with contemporary art from Africa. Most recently, the auction house has partnered with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, staging recent editions of the fair in its Paris address and through an online auction in October 2021 that featured works by Nigerian Osinachi, marking the first NFT by a contemporary African artist offered by Christie’s Europe. 




Yaw Owusu, New Paths on a Bare land, 2022, Stainless steel, copper, US pennies, Ghana pesewas, wood, 60in x 63in x 3in. (Supplied)

Also in October 2021, Christie’s in Dubai staged an exhibition in collaboration with Gallery 1957, a commercial gallery based in Accra and London, titled “[West] African Renaissance,” presenting a selection of works on canvas by some of the most esteemed artists working in West Africa.

“We are proud and honored that Efie Gallery chose Christie’s to collaborate with on this amazing show,” Isabelle de La Bruyere, head of Christie’s Chairman’s Office, told Arab News. “The talent and symbioses between the three artists represented, and even between our two brands, make this show an exciting and revealing moment for the contemporary African art market, and the international reach that alliances can create.”

The exhibition strives to incite discussion regarding the current global dialogue on climate change, sustainability and waste. Owusu, a recent graduate of the Pratt Institute in New York, incorporates otherwise valueless everyday materials, such as the coins he ritualistically uses, and upcycles them to create new objects of beauty, shimmering with newfound life. 

“Fostering cross-cultural exchange is paramount to Efie Gallery’s mission, thus, our European debut, by way of unique collaboration Christie’s head office in London, helps further our mission and opens up this exchange into a new region for us,” Kwame and Kobi Mintah, co-founders of Efie Gallery, told Arab News. 




Isshaq Ismail, Kwabena, 2021, Acrylic on canvas, 60 x 50 in. (Supplied)

“The viewer is invited to consider the materials that contribute to the complex beauty envisioned in the work of Anatsui and Owusu,” explain Kwame and Kobi Mintah. “When contextualized within the theme, the unaltered materials in work of Anatsui’s bottlecap assemblages become intent on revealing the ignorance of man in regard to the excessive waste that can be found in the world.”

On the other hand, when confronted with the work of Ismail, explain the Mintah brothers, “while the subjects are still visibly human, this loss of humanity is translated through the deformity of these grotesque figures, which in turn serves as a reflection of ourselves.”

While shows like “Material Earth” testify to the growing interest in art from Africa internationally, there are still major roadblocks to progress on the continent, such as limited art education and the development of a more prominent collector base.


Dubai’s Orfali Bros Bistro nabs top spot at MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants awards as Myazu voted Saudi Arabia’s best eatery

Dubai’s Orfali Bros Bistro nabs top spot at MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants awards as Myazu voted Saudi Arabia’s best eatery
Japanese eatery Myazu in Riyadh has been named the best restaurant in Saudi Arabia. (Instagram)
Updated 11 sec ago

Dubai’s Orfali Bros Bistro nabs top spot at MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants awards as Myazu voted Saudi Arabia’s best eatery

Dubai’s Orfali Bros Bistro nabs top spot at MENA’s 50 Best Restaurants awards as Myazu voted Saudi Arabia’s best eatery

ABU DHABI: Japanese eatery Myazu in Riyadh has been named the best restaurant in Saudi Arabia by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants MENA list in a ceremony held in Aby Dhabi on Monday night as Dubai’s Orfali Bros Bistro nabbed the overall top spot.  

The ranking is voted by a body formed of 250 restaurant experts in the region, known as the Academy. Each member casts seven votes for those that are – in their expert opinion – the best dining experiences in the MENA region.

The top 10 consisted of eateries from around the region, with a heavy showing from Dubai, including is Moonrise in Dubai at number 10, Zooba (Zamalek) in Cairo at number 9, Fakhreldin in Amman at number 8, Kinoya in Dubai at number 7, George & John in Tel Aviv at number 6, 3 Fils in Dubai at number 5, Ossiano in Dubai at number 4, Fusions by Tala in Manama at number 3, Trèsind Studio in Dubai at number 2 and Orfali Bros Bistro in Dubai at number 1.

“Also crowned The Best Restaurant in the UAE, this Dubai establishment is the restaurant embodiment of three brothers from Aleppo, Syria. The dining experience here is focused on storytelling, where every flavour, ingredient and technique has played a special part in the trio’s story. The atmosphere, with the rhythm set by the work in the two-storey kitchen overlooking the dining space, is fun, indulgent and at times nostalgic,” the organization posted on Instagram shortly after the announcement.

Commenting on Saudi Arabia’s best restaurant, the organization posted: “Under the leadership of chef Ian Pengelley, (Myazu) is a spot where harmony reigns in texture, aromas and flavors. Some dishes push the envelope of gastronomic craftsmanship while others focus on Japanese fan favorites, but all are set apart by a sophisticated presentation that has become part of this restaurant’s DNA.”


“Under the leadership of chef Ian Pengelley, (Myazu) is a spot where harmony reigns in texture, aromas and flavors. Some dishes push the envelope of gastronomic craftsmanship while others focus on Japanese fan favorites, but all are set apart by a sophisticated presentation that has become part of this restaurant’s DNA,” the organization posted on Instagram shortly after the announcement.

The eatery ranked number 18 on the list, just after Tawlet Mar Mikhael in Beirut.

Meanwhile, the Middle East & North Africa’s Best Female Chef Award 2023 went to Palestinian chef Salam Dakkak and this year’s Estrella Damm N.A. Chefs' Choice Award went to Moustafa Elrefaey of Zooba in Cairo.

 


Sundance Film Festival 2023 closes with three Mideast filmmakers winning awards  

Sundance Film Festival 2023 closes with three Mideast filmmakers winning awards  
Updated 30 January 2023

Sundance Film Festival 2023 closes with three Mideast filmmakers winning awards  

Sundance Film Festival 2023 closes with three Mideast filmmakers winning awards  

DUBAI: The 2023 Sundance Film Festival — which took its final bow this weekend in Park City, Utah, after its first in-person edition since 2020 — saw three Middle Eastern films winning awards, including “The Persian Version,” “Shayda” and “Animalia.”  

Iranian American director Maryam Keshavarz’s “The Persian Version” won the Audience Award and Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award in the US Dramatic Competition.  c

The film follows a large Iranian American family gathering for the patriarch’s heart transplant when a family secret catapults the estranged mother and daughter into an exploration of the past.   

It was one of three films at Sundance this year to be directed by Iranian women, the others being “Joonam” and “Shayda.”  

Noora Niasari’s “Shayda” took home the Audience Award in the World Cinema Dramatic Competition. The film follows Shayda, a brave Iranian mother, who finds refuge in an Australian women’s shelter with her six-year-old daughter. But when her estranged husband re-enters their lives, Shayda’s path to freedom is jeopardized.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Animalia (@animaliathefilm)

The third regional film to win an award at Sundance is “Animalia” by Morocco's Sofia Alaoui, who took home the Special Jury Award for Creative Vision. The film follows a young mother-to-be as she experiences an alien invasion with a sense of dread that slowly turns into liberation.  


Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas glitters in Lebanese label Elie Saab

Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas glitters in Lebanese label Elie Saab
Updated 30 January 2023

Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas glitters in Lebanese label Elie Saab

Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas glitters in Lebanese label Elie Saab

DUBAI: Actress Priyanka Chopra Jonas has a well-documented penchant for Arab designers. The Indian star, who crossed over into Hollywood, has been pictured donning looks from regional labels on plenty of occasions, including designs by Zuhair Murad and Nicolas Jebran, to name a few. 

Now, Chopra has taken to Instagram Stories to share a photograph of her latest look — a glittering get up by Lebanese designer Elie Saab.  

“When your fit deserves a closet selfie,” she captioned the casual snap.  

The jewel-toned look consisted of a floral midi dress paired with a matching bomber jacket.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Priyanka (@priyankachopra)

The former Miss World, who is married to US singer Nick Jonas, has sported Arab designs in the past and is also known for championing up-and-coming brands.  In 2021, Chopra made an appearance in Dubai and opted for a striking, saffron-colored design from sustainable Moroccan couture house Benchellal. 

The orange air mesh blazer dress featured a draped shawl cape and pockets and was plucked from the label’s ninth collection. She wore it with slim-fitting black trousers and pumps. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Priyanka (@priyankachopra)

Chopra also supported rising US Lebanese label Monot in 2021 by showing off a white, custom draped dress by the label during a product shoot for her haircare range.  

The actress and entrepreneur walked the red carpet at the second iteration of Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival in December 2022 in a lavish gold gown by Lebanese designer Nicolas Jebran, complete with a matching overcoat.  

Arab designers have increasingly become the “go-to” for Indian celebrities at major events. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ami Patel (@stylebyami)

Ami Patel, one of India’s leading celebrity stylists, previously explained Bollywood’s love affair with Middle Eastern design talent to Arab News, saying: “I think Middle Eastern designers understand the Indian body type and silhouette very well. They know exactly what Indian celebrities want and cater to them.” 

Dubai-based Syrian designer Rami Al-Ali, who just unveiled his latest collection on the sidelines of Paris Haute Couture Week, agreed, telling Arab News in a previous interview: “Bollywood stars are also celebrities in the Middle East world.” 

“Since the Middle East is actually aligned with the industry, they are definitely keener on dressing Indian stars and even willing to customise and size outfits for our actors,” added Rai, in a bid to explain why stars such as Chopra, who started off in Bollywood, have an affinity for Arab designs. 


Canadian model Winnie Harlow spotted at Formula E Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia

Canadian model Winnie Harlow spotted at Formula E Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia
Winnie Harlow attends the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Scott Garfitt)
Updated 29 January 2023

Canadian model Winnie Harlow spotted at Formula E Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia

Canadian model Winnie Harlow spotted at Formula E Diriyah E-Prix in Saudi Arabia

DUBAI: Canadian model Winnie Harlow was spotted in Saudi Arabia this weekend attending the Formula E Diriyah E-Prix.

 The model was part of the thousands of fans who watched on as 22 of the fastest electric race cars ever built raced for the second time this weekend.

 “The experience at Formula E is unmatched and I’ve really enjoyed the vibe, people, atmosphere, and racing. I’ve been to Saudi Arabia a few times and always have a great experience, so I love that Formula E is in Diriyah,” Harlow said in a released statement.

“Living in a more sustainable world and being able to enjoy motorsports at the same time is incredible,” she added. 

Harlow rubbed shoulders with the likes of John Legend, Martin Garrix, Miguel and French Montana, who performed at the event’s after-race concert series.

Netflix series “Emily in Paris” star Lucien Laviscount was also in attendance.

“I’m a massive fan of motorsport and anything to do with cars. Seeing the new GEN3 race car on track for the first time was insane,” he said in a released statement. “It looks like a fighter jet on wheels and sounds like it’s from a sci-fi movie. Formula E are leading the world in electric car innovation. I’m in line for an electric vehicle and this has really given me a taste.”


Review: More dungeons and more dragons — ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ season two is a ‘critical’ hit  

Review: More dungeons and more dragons — ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ season two is a ‘critical’ hit  
Updated 29 January 2023

Review: More dungeons and more dragons — ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ season two is a ‘critical’ hit  

Review: More dungeons and more dragons — ‘The Legend of Vox Machina’ season two is a ‘critical’ hit  

DUBAI: It would not be an understatement to say that we are living in the golden age of television when it comes to sheer diversity in terms of content. That much is evident when a Dungeons & Dragons game that started out in someone’s living room is now a full-blown animated series on a massive streaming platform — and it has returned for a second season.   

 “The Legend of Vox Machina” is based on the hugely successful D&D actual play series Critical Role, in which players livestreamed themselves playing the tabletop game. The adult animated series made fans in its debut season for its ability to carefully balance juvenile humor with immense character depth, set against a lore-heavy fantasy setting.   

Season two builds on that promise and comes back even stronger with greater character arcs for its seven main characters: Half-elf rogue Vax’ildan (Liam O’Brien), his ranger twin sister Vex’ahlia (Laura Bailey), half-elf druid Keyleth (Marisha Ray), gnome bard Scanlan (Sam Riegel), goliath barbarian Grog (Travis Willingham), his BFF gnome paladin Pike (Ashley Johnson) and human gunslinger Percy (Taliesen Jaffe). This is an impressive feat to achieve given that the episodes have a run time of under 30 minutes.   

The new season picks up exactly where season one left off — with a group of large and ancient dragons attacking the city of Emon. Our motley crew of mercenaries/heroes, clearly underqualified for the job of defeating these powerful beings, must now go on a continent-hopping jaunt to retrieve magical artifacts that will help them in this mission.   

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by FanologyPV (@fanologypv)

It is helpful here to remember that “TLOVM,” unlike any fantasy series or movie that you may have watched so far, is not based on a book or video game: It is based on a story created by a group of friends as they played a game over several years, albeit with an audience watching on Twitch and YouTube.   

And, hence, what makes the animated show such an engrossing watch, despite having a story that may seem familiar to most fans of fantasy media, is that “TLOVM” manages to accurately capture the bond between the players and translate it into endearing television.   

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by FanologyPV (@fanologypv)

And while the personal stakes are dialed up to 11 this time around, the larger plot is not ignored either. As big as the emotional punches are, they are matched in intensity with the beautifully realized action scenes and set pieces, which will again feel familiar to anyone who has ever played a role-playing game with their friends.   

With Critical Role announcing that they will also be animating their second campaign, Mighty Nein, for Amazon, and if you are a fan of all things magic, camaraderie and epic battles, there has never been a better time to tune in and let “Vox Machina” enthrall you.