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.


Lebanese designer Elie Saab unveils summer 2023 collection in Paris

Lebanese designer Elie Saab unveils summer 2023 collection in Paris
Elie Saab showed off his latest collection at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. (AFP)
Updated 38 sec ago

Lebanese designer Elie Saab unveils summer 2023 collection in Paris

Lebanese designer Elie Saab unveils summer 2023 collection in Paris

DUBAI: Lebanese designer Elie Saab unveiled his spring/summer 2023 collection at Paris Fashion Week over the weekend.

The line featured stylistic call-backs to the 1960s with its babydoll dresses, miniskirts, crop-tops and jabot collars. However, the designer managed to retain he floaty, contemporary Saab touch he has become famous for.

The first look from Saab at his Paris fashion show fused a 1960s angelic-white crop top and a maxi skirt with an ethnic look, thanks to a construction of interlocking motifs. This fusion of different eras continued throughout the show, which sent out 68 items, The Associated Press reported.

Lace detailing was a big theme and became the front of a baggy pale tracksuit top. In an anachronism that defined this Saab spring aesthetic, it was worn alongside a sheer 1990s' tulle skirt. It had a great swag and could have very well been seen at a music festival in that decade.

Flashes of Barbie pink and citrus contrasted with psychedelic stripes on column silhouettes, sometimes making it feel like Saab was trying to put too much in the mix.

However, the fresh white broderie anglaise, delicate crochet work and crisp cottons played into the summer theme that Saab sought to pull off, with the designer telling Vogue US that he “was just in the mood for something easy to wear, airy like a summer breeze.”

That sentiment was echoed on the fashion house’s social media accounts.

“The Elie Saab Woman drifts onto the scene in gentle warmth and movement. Her colorful confidence is embodied in the ready-to-wear spring/summer 2023 collection, exuding a timeless chic with a touch of garden freshness. Soft and sumptuous textures overlap into free-flowing expressions that carry her carefree assuredness throughout the day,” the label posted on Instagram alongside a video clip of the show.

The star-studded front row at the show featured the likes of Italian actress Monica Bellucci, US actress Eva Longoria, US influencer Olivia Palermo and Mohammed Al-Turki, the CEO of Jeddah’s Red Sea International Film Festival.

“Congrats to the Saab family for another beautiful show,” Al-Turki, who attended the event in an ensemble from Saab’s Haute Couture Men’s collection, posted on Instagram.


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.


New Lonely Planet guide shines a light on Britain’s hidden Muslim heritage

New Lonely Planet guide shines a light on Britain’s hidden Muslim heritage
Updated 01 October 2022

New Lonely Planet guide shines a light on Britain’s hidden Muslim heritage

New Lonely Planet guide shines a light on Britain’s hidden Muslim heritage
  • ‘Experience Great Britain’ is part of publisher’s range of ‘anti-guidebooks’
  • It offers ‘really diverse experiences for visitors,’ contributor Tharik Hussain says

LONDON: A new Lonely Planet guide to Great Britain features an entire chapter on the country’s little-known Islamic heritage, which stretches back more than 1,200 years.

Published this month, “Experience Great Britain” is part of the publisher’s range of “anti-guidebooks,” so-called because of the unique local perspectives they offer travelers.

The guide to Britain has sections and essays titled “Legacies of Empire,” “Bristol’s Black History,” “An Other London” and “Hidden Muslim Britain,” all of which seek to shine a light on the nation’s marginalized cultures and their stories.

Tharik Hussain, the Muslim author of “Minarets in the Mountains: A Journey Into Muslim Europe,” which explores the continent’s indigenous Muslim cultures, contributed to the new travel guide.

 

 

“I think it is wonderful to see mainstream guidebooks like this finally going out of their way to include such really diverse experiences for visitors,” he said.

“So often, writers like me are brought onto such projects to tick a box and create the impression there are diverse perspectives in it, but actually we’re often asked to just write about the same things covered by the previous writers. What’s diverse about that?

“To achieve truly diverse perspectives commissioning editors must select writers from different backgrounds and then be brave and empower writers to come back with what they find interesting, even if that goes against the editor’s expectations.”

Hussain, who developed one of the UK’s first Muslim heritage trails, wrote the “Hidden Muslim Britain” chapter, which focuses on Woking — home to the UK’s first purpose-built mosque, the Shah Jahan — Liverpool and Brighton, where some of the country’s most visible Islamic legacies can be found.

These include Britain’s first Muslim cemetery — the final resting place of convert lords, ladies and Muslim royalty — and Brighton Pavilion, where injured Muslim (as well as Sikh and Hindu) soldiers fighting for Britain in World War I were treated.

The guide also tells of cultural institutes set up by the Turkish, Palestinian, Bangladeshi and Black communities in London. (Supplied/Tharik Hussain)

“The guide also reveals where to visit spectacular ‘oriental rooms’ modeled on famous Muslim palaces like the Alhambra in Spain and the Topkapi in Turkey,” Hussain said.

“This is supported by an essay called Anglo Islam that reveals how Islam came to the island as early as the 8th century, when an Anglo-Saxon king called Offa minted a gold coin featuring part of the Muslim declaration of faith in Arabic.”

The essay also tells of how Britain’s first real Muslim community “were a group of white, convert Victorians who worshipped at the country’s first mosque in Liverpool, founded by a solicitor called Henry William Quilliam, later Abdullah Quilliam,” he added.

The section on empire tells visitors where they can go to learn about “the horrors of British imperial rule,” and how to experience more positive post-colonial legacies like the stunning Neasden Temple in northwest London, built by immigrants who moved to Britain after the collapse of the empire, Hussain said.

The guide also tells of the cultural institutes set up by the Turkish, Palestinian, Bangladeshi and Black communities in London, like the Black Cultural Archives in Brixton, and offers alternatives to the usual tourist attractions, such as the Muslim History Tours and the Open City walking tours that explore London’s forgotten Chinese heritage.


Dance group Mayyas to perform in Beirut after ‘America’s Got Talent’ win

Dance group Mayyas to perform in Beirut after ‘America’s Got Talent’ win
Updated 30 September 2022

Dance group Mayyas to perform in Beirut after ‘America’s Got Talent’ win

Dance group Mayyas to perform in Beirut after ‘America’s Got Talent’ win
  • Crew ecstatic over ‘dream’ prize, says choreographer Nadim Cherfan
  • Artists will showcase their gifts at the US embassy this weekend

DUBAI: Lebanese dance crew Mayyas are set to perform for the first time since winning “America’s Got Talent” at the US embassy in Beirut this weekend.

The embassy will also host a virtual meet-the-artist session which will be released on Oct. 1 on YouTube.

“I am very happy that Mayyas will do a collaboration with the US embassy,” the crew’s choreographer Nadim Cherfan said in a video shared on the embassy’s Twitter page.

Earlier this month, the group took home the $1 million grand prize after winning the show.

“We can’t believe what’s happening,” group member Marcel Assal told Arab News after the show. “We can’t believe what we’ve achieved — giving so much energy, leaving our work and education, dedicating our time to training every day to be here to represent our country, and this is what we were looking for.

“We were very stressed out by the fact that we had to (prepare the dance) in two to three days, but when we went up on stage and heard the cheers, the audience gave us a push and an adrenaline rush that wasn’t there and we did it,” added Assal.

Cherfan said: “This win gave me an opportunity to dream again. When you have a dream and you achieve it, you start to look for another dream. So I’m very happy that there is something to look forward to now — something to dream of, something to fight for.”


Arab models Gigi, Bella Hadid grace the runway for French label Isabel Marant in Paris 

Arab models Gigi, Bella Hadid grace the runway for French label Isabel Marant in Paris 
Updated 01 October 2022

Arab models Gigi, Bella Hadid grace the runway for French label Isabel Marant in Paris 

Arab models Gigi, Bella Hadid grace the runway for French label Isabel Marant in Paris 

DUBAI: Dutch Palestinian models Gigi and Bella Hadid have had a fashion-packed month, from Milan to Paris Fashion Week. 

This week, the sisters modeled for Isabel Marant wearing the French label’s spring-summer 2023 collection.  

Gigi strutted down the runway in an oversized cameo-print jacket in neutral hues. 

Bella wore two outfits. The first featured a white cut-out top embellished with silver studs, white pants, stilettos and a handbag.

The second look was a black flowy mini dress with cut-out detailing across the chest, which the model styled with a tasseled bag casually slung on her shoulder. 

The fashion show featured an array of unique outfits — including sheer tops, oversized jumpers, floral dresses, jeans and crochet items — which British Moroccan model Nora Attal championed. 

Attal wore a yacht-perfect crochet bodysuit and a matching bag with fringe detailing.

French Algerian catwalk star Loli Bahia was also part of the star-studded show.

Bella wore a white cut-out top embellished with silver studs, white pants, stilettos and a handbag. (AFP)

She put on an eye-catching display in an outfit similar to Bella’s all-white look, sporting leather trousers and a cut-out red top.

Bahia also wore reflective silver pants with a white chiffon top featuring a sleeveless neckline. 

The part-Arab models all opted for loose hair with natural make-up looks in a bronze pallet. 

Another star-studded event at Paris Fashion Week was French jewelry label Messika’s show, which was inspired by ancient Egypt.

Bahia wore leather trousers and a cut-out red top. (AFP)

Supermodel Naomi Campbell opened the runway on Thursday wearing the new Akh-Ba-Ka set, which was designed by Valérie Messika and is part of the brand’s new jewelry collection titled “Beyond the Light.”

The necklace, which Italian Moroccan model Malika El-Maslouhi wore in the campaign images, is made of white gold with 15 diamonds totaling 71 carats. The entire set is composed of a pair of asymmetrical earrings and a transformable ring that can be worn in three different ways.

Among the guests who watched the show were Gigi, Lebanese singer Maya Diab, Saudi TV presenter Lojain Omran, Egyptian actresses Mai Omar and Enjy Kiwan and Lebanese presenter Diala Makki.