Saudi artists shine in new Venice exhibition, curated by two sisters

Saudi artists shine in new Venice exhibition, curated by two sisters
Saad Howede, ‘Tola Petroleum.’ (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 27 July 2022

Saudi artists shine in new Venice exhibition, curated by two sisters

Saudi artists shine in new Venice exhibition, curated by two sisters
  • ‘Re-composing’ shows how creatives in the Kingdom are addressing cultural change

FORMENTERA: “We’ve spent the last two years looking at the cultural identity in the Arab world from a sociological perspective,” says Mona Al-Abdallah, co-curator of “Re-composing,” an exhibition at the Palazzo Bembo in Venice dedicated to Saudi-based artists. Al-Abdallah co-founded the 369 Art Gallery in Jeddah in 2014 with her sister Maya (the other co-curator of “Re-composing”). The gallery is moving to Riyadh this year. 

“We chose to look at Saudi-based artists for this exhibition because Saudi Arabia is alive and has a voice. It’s both ancient and new. There are artists who are only 18 in this show. I’m amazed by their proximity to Saudi’s process of becoming and what this says about the regeneration of Arab culture.”




Hmoud Al-Attawi, ‘Connection.’ (Supplied)

While it can often seem like the same handful of artists constantly appear in Saudi biennials, many of the artists participating in this exhibition are lesser known, such as the pop-culture-influenced Saudi millennial who goes by the name Rexchouk, whose “Pass the Bukhoor” (2022) places lime-green, wide-eyed men and women in traditional garb against a palm tree-lined setting, where they cleanse themselves with ‘bukhoor,’ the scent burner used at home and in ritual gatherings across the Arabian peninsula. 

Then there’s Mariam Almesawi, an artist who is also a “braille language practitioner and mental health disability specialist,” according to her statement, but who you will be hard-pressed to find anything about online. Her deceptively simple video “Folkor Al-Arab” (2022) depicts a rotating female figure wearing a plain, white djellaba with black braids covering her face.

Obaid Alsafi, who emerged last year with a Misk Art Grant, combines new media, artificial intelligence and Arabic poetry in his art practice. His work “Desert Insight” (2022) is an imaginary clock framed with a circle of sand. At its center is a programmed monitor showing figures in kaleidoscopic form — an evocation of both geological time and what the artist calls “virtual time.” Meanwhile, in a comment on rapid urban development and migration within the Kingdom, Saeed Al-Gamhawi’s “My Mother’s Rug” (2021), an intricate projection which was exhibited at Noor Riyadh 2021, digitizes an old family rug in an effort to preserve time.




Saeed El-Gamhawi, ‘My Mother's Rug.’ (Supplied)

The theme of “Re-composing” evokes an ephemeral idea of fluid identities or the sense of a musical arrangement, and re-arrangement, but there’s a strong sense of materiality and material culture in the exhibition. “Agar” (2022), by filmmaker Deyaa Youssef, for example, is a haunting, textural video with a devotional quality, featuring a woman wearing an embroidered abaya, touching on water as sacred, while Khulod Albugami’s sculpture “Terhal” (2021) is a woolly figure on wooden legs, inspired by tent structures and desert adaptation. Albugami — among the more established artists in the show — draws from her Bedouin cultural heritage. In a similar vein, Swiss-Syrian-Moroccan Houda Terjuman creates a miniature palm tree floating above a green bed using copper plaster sponge and sawdust wire (“Uprooted Palm,” 2021).

There are some dramatic sculptural aesthetics on show. Abha-born Syrian artist Hatem Al-Ahmad ties tongue depressors together in a wall-sized flowing sculpture called “Shlonak” (2022), indexing illness (in the 19th century, depressors were used as a sign of the plague). 

“This was a deeply collaborative process,” Al-Abdallah explains. “We thought that the work needed to be a fluid form, like a tongue that reflects the fluidity of language.” Interestingly the question, “Shou lonak?” - meaning what is your color — which developed as a colloquialism during that time has evolved into “Shlonak?” (How are you?)

In “Connection” (2019), Hmoud Al-Attawi evokes pixelated fingers touching, inspired by Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam.” He uses Islamic rings that measure the number of prayer beads, since the work represents a connection to the divine through fingers and counting. “Al-Attawi and Saad Howede, who share Wasm studio in Riyadh, are very research-driven,” Al-Abdullah says. “Sometimes they work on a project conceptually for a year before executing it. We believe in them and think they are going to be the next big thing.”

In “Tola Petroleum” (2019), Howede creates a grid consisting of rows of oud bottles filled with petroleum, a sharp look at traditional signifiers of Arabian culture and their interchangeability. It is a neat encapsulation of how this exhibition — as a snapshot of contemporary art practice in Saudi Arabia — indicates that ancestral traditions form a significant part, existing side-by-side with cultural change.


Arab models Nora Attal, Nour Rizk grace Chanel runway in Paris

Arab models Nora Attal, Nour Rizk grace Chanel runway in Paris
Nour Rizk showed off Chanel's latest line in Paris. (Getty Images)
Updated 04 October 2022

Arab models Nora Attal, Nour Rizk grace Chanel runway in Paris

Arab models Nora Attal, Nour Rizk grace Chanel runway in Paris

DUBAI: British Moroccan model Nora Attal and Lebanese rising star Nour Rizk walked the runway for French fashion house Chanel at Paris Fashion Week on Tuesday, showing off a number of looks as part of the label’s Spring-Summer 2023 showcase.

For her part, Rizk took to the runway in a ruffled halter neck top paired with sharply pressed knee-length shorts. Attal’s look was a similarly ruffled buttoned mini dress with a sailor collar in a summer-ready shade of white.

Nora Attal walked the runway for Chanel at Paris Fashion Week. (Getty Images)

The ensembled were part of a 71-piece collection designed by the fashion house’s creative director Virginie Viard.

The day before her outing with Chanel, Attal hit the runway for luxury label Lanvin.

Designer Bruno Sialelli was in a more low-key mood than usual in the saleable spring collection featuring neat, unfussy looks that on the whole packed no surprises — like an alabaster tuxedo jacket with square shoulders and fraying hems, or a ruched medieval-style top with tubular sleeves.

The creative energy luckily picked up toward the end of the co-ed show, The Associated Press reported.

A great series of corset-cum-lingerie silk babydoll looks in pastel shades were the highlight and played with the idea of transparencies. They were accessorized with bejeweled sheer fabric in the shape of a cloche hat that covered the model’s face.

After several years in the fashion wilderness, France’s oldest continually operating fashion house continues to have a spring in its step with the renewed direction of this French designer.

Attal also made an appearance at the Hermes show as artistic director Nadege Vanhee-Cybulski seized on the vibes of the Burning Man Festival, adding swirls of color and utilitarian touches to a sleek spring and summer collection sent down the runway on Saturday to techno beats.

“A rave in the desert,” announced show notes, according to Reuters.

The first look was classic Hermes: a pale, tan leather shirt and trouser ensemble, the top with a collar and wide sleeves, while pant legs were gently cinched at the bottom.

A burst of russet-colored looks came later, followed by silky dresses in large patches of orange and pink, garments crafted from perforated leather and slightly bolder, graphic prints outlined with black.

Tent-like straps lifted panels from hems and decorated bare midriffs, while laces ran up and down seams and a minimalist military-style leather vest had a slim backpack pouch.

Celebrities and international crowds flooded the French capital for Paris Fashion Week, which ended on Tuesday, and marked the fashion industry's sweeping return as the post-pandemic boom in luxury sales continues.

 


Balenciaga taps Syrian wedding singer for Paris Fashion Week after party performance

Balenciaga taps Syrian wedding singer for Paris Fashion Week after party performance
Omar Souleyman's upbeat electronic music won him international fame in recent years. (AFP)
Updated 04 October 2022

Balenciaga taps Syrian wedding singer for Paris Fashion Week after party performance

Balenciaga taps Syrian wedding singer for Paris Fashion Week after party performance

DUBAI: Luxury fashion label Balenciaga tapped famed Syrian wedding singer Omar Souleyman to perform at its after party at Paris Fashion Week.

The label — which is famous for its boundary-pushing, sometimes bizarre creations — hosted a performance by the popular singer at its after show event, which also featured performances by Taxi Kebab and Von Bikräv & Evil Grimace.

Prior to the invite-only event, designer Demna Gvasalia pulled off a stellar showcase of the label’s Sprint/Summer 2023 collection.

Kanye West, now known legally as Ye, walked as a model in the ready-to-wear show.

After beginning his career performing at weddings and other events in northern Syria, Omar Souleyman's upbeat electronic music won him international fame in recent years.

He has released several albums and collaborated with musicians such as Bjork and Four Tet, as well as playing at Britain's Glastonbury Festival and a 2013 concert for the Nobel Peace Prize award.


John Legend to perform as part of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s fifth anniversary celebrations

John Legend to perform as part of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s fifth anniversary celebrations
The singer-songwriter dropped his newest album “Legend” in September. (AFP)
Updated 04 October 2022

John Legend to perform as part of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s fifth anniversary celebrations

John Legend to perform as part of Louvre Abu Dhabi’s fifth anniversary celebrations

DUBAI: In celebration of the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s fifth anniversary, US superstar John Legend is headed to the UAE capital to headline the Louvre Abu Dhabi Grand Festival. The performance is set to take place on Nov.12.

The EGOT musician, who has won Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards, is most famous for his soulful tracks like “All of Me,” “Ordinary People” and “Love Me Now.”

The singer-songwriter, who dropped his newest album “Legend” in September, has already performed two sold-out shows in the UAE, at the Dubai Jazz Festival in 2018 and at Dubai's Coca-Cola Arena in 2020.
 

The new album, which boasts foot-tapping tracks like “Guy Like Me,” “Strawberry Blush” and “You,” features collaborations with the likes of Rapsody, Rick Ross, Amber Mark, Jhene Aiko and Ty Dolla $ign. The artist will no doubt perform a number of tracks from the album in Abu Dhabi.

“’Legend’ is full of sensuality, joy and celebration. But our lives are more complex than that. My family and I have also been challenged by loss and grief and pain. I wanted to make space on this album to be vulnerable, spiritual and reflective. I needed this music to help me heal, and to hopefully help others heal. I brought my full self to this album, and that’s why I decided to make it my first (sorta) self-titled album,” Legend posted on his social media about the record.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi Grand Festival will also feature Majid Al-Muhandis – an  Iraqi-Saudi singer and composer, who will take to the stage on Nov. 11. Earlier this year, the singer made waves when Russian supermodel Irina Shayk got a starring role in his music video for the song “Waareftek” (“I Knew You”) from his 2022 album of the same name. Shayk stars as the singer’s love interest in the five-minute-long clip.

On Nov. 13, Egyptian composer, pianist and conductor Omar Khariat will perform as part of the festival. Khairat has composed a number of successful works such as “The Fortune-teller,” “The Magic Perfumes” and “Arabic Rhapsody.”

 


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.

 


Middle East Fashion Week set to return to Dubai this November

Middle East Fashion Week set to return to Dubai this November
Updated 03 October 2022

Middle East Fashion Week set to return to Dubai this November

Middle East Fashion Week set to return to Dubai this November

DUBAI: The second edition of Middle East Fashion Week (MEFW), organized by the Middle East Fashion Council (MEFC), is set to take place from Nov. 7-10 at The Agenda in Dubai Media City.

The event will also hold the second edition of the Middle East Sustainable Fashion Forum –  a panel of speakers leading discussions on environmentally responsible and financially viable ways to integrate sustainable practices into the design process and the supply chain.

Keeping this theme in mind, the choice of venue becomes more apparent. The Agenda’s vision is to become the world’s first carbon-negative performance venue. “The sound and lighting industry is historically very power hungry, and coupled with AC and facilities, traditionally a large CO2 footprint would be in place for an event such as this. The Agenda will be using the latest technology to reduce power consumption,” reads a description on the event's official website.

Guests attending the event will be able to see their individual carbon footprint for attending the shows and how it is offset.

Designer applications for Middle East Fashion Week are open until October 10, 2022. To apply, email [email protected]