US Levantine artist Sarah Awad: ‘What’s exciting about painting is the sense of the unknown’ 

US Levantine artist Sarah Awad: ‘What’s exciting about painting is the sense of the unknown’ 
Sarah Awad's "Cosmic Harmonizers" (2022). (Supplied)
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Updated 01 December 2022

US Levantine artist Sarah Awad: ‘What’s exciting about painting is the sense of the unknown’ 

US Levantine artist Sarah Awad: ‘What’s exciting about painting is the sense of the unknown’ 
  • The Los Angeles-based painter discusses her first show in the Middle East 

DUBAI: Los Angeles-based painter Sarah Awad was born to a Lebanese-Syrian father and a Lebanese mother. Despite her Levantine-Arab roots, however, she only made her first visit to the Middle East in November, to install her show at The Third Line in Dubai, “Rainbow Clearance and Other Paintings,” which will occupy the gallery’s two floors until Dec. 16.  

“The thing that really struck me about Dubai was the international community and how vibrant and diverse it is,” Awad tells Arab News. “People are really hospitable, warm and engaged. They come and they participate. It feels small, because everyone knows each other and supports each other.”  




Sarah Awad. (Supplied)

Awad has been interested in art since childhood. “Art education in the States is not great and my family are not artists, but my mom always exposed me to creative projects,” she says. “For some reason, when I was a kid, I knew I was going to be a painter. 

“I don’t think I can imagine doing anything else. I think painting is both a joy and a gift, and also a source of tension, because there’s always a sense of not being satisfied or feeling like there’s still questions and something unresolved,” she continues. “I think what is exciting to me about painting is the sense of the unknown. To make a great painting, you have to experience not knowing.” 

The works in the exhibition demonstrate Awad’s practice of layering and merging shapes, colors and faces together. The form is free-flowing and bold, marked with thick, fearless brushstrokes. The use of color — she isn’t afraid of juxtaposing light and dark — is a constant theme in her work. “An initial starting point for me is thinking about the palette and color relationships. Sometimes, it doesn’t work,” she says with a laugh.  




Sarah Awad's "Phantom Web" (2022). (Supplied)

“I’m really interested in a color that doesn’t feel like it should work but does,” she continues. “It’s all about how they work in relationship to one another. In much of the work, you’ll see a really vibrant, saturated color that is sort of offset by a more neutral color, or a color coming through other colors, carving out its own niche. I like that to be a surprising moment in the painting.” 

While the paintings contain elements of abstraction and figuration, Awad refrains from labeling her style. “I don’t have a categorization for it. I think it situates itself along certain lines of questions that painters had, historically, about abstraction,” she says.  

“They’re not process-based paintings, but at the same time, they use intuition and language that stems from (abstract expressionists) Helen Frankenthaler or Willem de Kooning — this kind of way of responding to materiality and then imposing a conscious structure to the work. It’s not just about material improvisation, or accident, it’s also about intention,” Awad continues. 




"Neon Pulse" (2022). (Supplied)

At times, it seems as though there may be hidden figures in some of Awad’s work. Some are in intimate conversations, while another is looking straight at the viewer or is lost in thought. Each image seems to have a story of its own.  

“I think they’re kind of open-ended. The way that I think about their situating in the painting is often just a gesture,” Awad says. “They’re gestures of intimacy but also of looking — the act of looking. I think that there’s a way in which they ask you to kind of engage with them and the painting.” 

In recent years, the contemporary art scene has changed, with large installations and on-site projects that are more likely to get picked up by social media becoming increasingly popular. There is something humble, then, in Awad’s back-to-basics approach to staging her work, allowing viewers to contemplate the images directly and appreciate once again the art of painting.  

“I haven’t found a need to do other things,” says Awad. “I find painting to be so challenging as a discipline and so rich that you can stay inside that box for your whole life and still never find the edges of it. I think the reason it feels sort of anarchic in today’s world is that it takes time, and I don’t know if the younger generation is conditioned for that.”


Saudi comedy ‘Sattar’ to get UK premiere in London this week   

Saudi comedy ‘Sattar’ to get UK premiere in London this week   
Updated 08 February 2023

Saudi comedy ‘Sattar’ to get UK premiere in London this week   

Saudi comedy ‘Sattar’ to get UK premiere in London this week   
  • ‘This movie is really important in the context of the Saudi film industry because it’s a local commercial film and one of our beginner initiatives, and we won’t stop at that. There’ll be many films to come,’ Ibrahim Al-Hajjaj told Arab News

DUBAI: Saudi comedy “Sattar” will get its UK premiere on Thursday.  

The movie will screen in London at the Odeon Covent Garden. The film’s stars Ibrahim Al-Hajjaj and Abdulaziz Alshehri will attend the UK premiere.  

The story revolves around Saad, played by Al-Hajjaj, who dreams of becoming a wrestler while battling failures in his professional and love lives. His plans soon go south when an embarrassing video of him wrestling goes viral. 

Feeling hopeless, he enlists the help of the eccentric Ali Hogeen, portrayed by Alshehri, the self-proclaimed most-famous wrestling manager in the region. Hogeen introduces him to an underground wrestling network known as “The Pit,” and Pakistani coach Abdul Khaleq, portrayed by the film’s writer, producer and actor Ibrahim Alkhairallah, has Saad join the largest freestyle wrestling tournament in the region. 

The movie, made by Telfaz11’s new production house Al-Shimaisi Films, first premiered in the Kingdom on Dec. 22, 2022 at Riyadh Boulevard City’s Muvi Cinema.  

The film’s stakeholders collaborated with the Saudi Pro Wrestling society alongside the first Saudi wrestler, Naif Al-Mutairi, to choreograph fight scenes. 

The movie first premiered in the Kingdom on Dec. 22, 2022 at Riyadh Boulevard City’s Muvi Cinema. (AN Photo: Abdulrahman Alshalhoub)

Al-Hajjaj lost 15 kg during an intense wrestling boot camp four months prior to filming in preparation for the role. 

Al-Hajjaj and Alkhairallah were coached by Al-Mutairi on the performance aspect of entering a ring, hyping up the crowd, and initiating a fight sequence.  

“There were so many exciting moments during the shoot but I’m happy that I could learn wrestling. That’s the beauty of the acting industry, that you learn new stuff in every role, so I’m really happy about that,” Al-Hajjaj said in a previous interview with Arab News. 

“This movie is really important in the context of the Saudi film industry because it’s a local commercial film and one of our beginner initiatives, and we won’t stop at that. There’ll be many films to come,” he added.  

Meanwhile, Alshehri said: “We are a society that loves comedy. We love to laugh and joke around, and that’s our goal with this.” 


Christie’s to bring its Art+Tech Summit to Dubai  

Christie’s to bring its Art+Tech Summit to Dubai  
Updated 08 February 2023

Christie’s to bring its Art+Tech Summit to Dubai  

Christie’s to bring its Art+Tech Summit to Dubai  

DUBAI: British auction house Christie’s Middle East outpost has announced that its Christie’s Art+Tech Summit is set to take place in Dubai on March 2 during Art Dubai 2023.   

This will be the sixth iteration of the conference to be hosted by Christie’s. The previous editions took place in New York, Hong Kong and London.

Confirmed guest speakers include the Minister of State for Advanced Technology and Chairwoman of UAE Space Agency Sarah Bint Yousif Al Amirii, CEO and co-founder of Careem Mudassir Sheikha and UAE-based collector Amir ‘Mondoir’ Soleymani, among others. 

 

This year’s Dubai summit will explore artificial intelligence, digital asset ownership, financial innovation and blockchain. The event will bring together international creators and collectors from a spectrum of disciplines across art and technology, as well as experts from the Middle East.  

Devang Thakkar, the global head of Christie’s ventures and Art+Tech, said in a statement: “Given the vibrancy and innovation coming out of the Gulf states, and from the UAE within this sector, we are excited to bring the Art and Tech Summit to Dubai. 

 

 

“The Summit will enable industry innovators in both sectors to engage in meaningful debate and discussion around future innovation and to spend invaluable time with the pioneers here. We look forward to a productive summit that leads to meaningful collaboration,” he added. 


Arab Fashion Council, Dubai Design District announce first-ever Dubai Fashion Week 

Arab Fashion Council, Dubai Design District announce first-ever Dubai Fashion Week 
Updated 08 February 2023

Arab Fashion Council, Dubai Design District announce first-ever Dubai Fashion Week 

Arab Fashion Council, Dubai Design District announce first-ever Dubai Fashion Week 

DUBAI: The Arab Fashion Council and Dubai Design District (d3) anounced the launch of Dubai Fashion Week at an event in the city on Tuesday night.  

The first iteration of the fashion week will take place from March 10-15.  

Art work on display at the launch party unveiling Dubai Fashion Week in Dubai Design District. (Supplied)

Organizers have billed Dubai Fashion Week as the definitive fashion fixture in the region, featuring men’s, women’s, ready-to-wear and couture collections.  

Senior Vice President of d3 Khadija Al-Bastaki praised Dubai’s progress as a fashion capital in a released statement.  

 “Where there was Paris, Milan, London and New York, there is now Dubai. From economic activity to tourism and creativity, Dubai has carved its own space among the world’s cosmopolitan capitals, and fashion is one industry boosting its status. All eyes are on the Middle East for fashion and creativity, and now the sky is the limit,” she said.  

For his part, CEO of the Arab Fashion Council Jacob Abrian noted the city’s contribution to the global fashion industry, saying: “Dubai has arrived on the global fashion stage. Emerging and established creatives have shaped a distinct identity for the region that resonates far and wide. Our region's fashion industry is entering a new chapter as we become increasingly active contributors to the global fashion narrative.” 

“Fashion is a cultural expression fueled by tradition but also by the zeitgeist.  I strongly believe that Dubai has now the capacity to become a global fashion hub addressing today's questions of sustainability, technology and diversity,” Serge Carreira, head of the Emerging Brands Initiative, at France’s Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode, added in a released statement. 

The announcement was made in the presence of Abdulla Belhoul, chief executive officer of TECOM Group which d3 is a part of, Issam Kazim, chief executive officer of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, Ammar Al-Malik, executive vice president – commercial, TECOM Group, Khadija Al-Bastaki, senior vice president of d3 and Jacob Abrian, CEO of the Arab Fashion Council. 


Art Dubai to donate half its online ticket proceeds to earthquake relief efforts in Syria, Turkey

Art Dubai to donate half its online ticket proceeds to earthquake relief efforts in Syria, Turkey
Updated 08 February 2023

Art Dubai to donate half its online ticket proceeds to earthquake relief efforts in Syria, Turkey

Art Dubai to donate half its online ticket proceeds to earthquake relief efforts in Syria, Turkey

DUBAI: Joining a chorus of support, regional art fair Art Dubai announced on Tuesday it will be donating 50 per cent of the online ticket revenue from its coming March event to support earthquake relief efforts in Syria and Turkey.  

“Our thoughts are with all those affected by the Turkey-Syria earthquake. While the aftermath of this horrific event is still being assessed, we will be donating 50% of proceeds from Art Dubai’s online ticket sales for this year’s fair, to registered charities supporting the victims of this tragedy,” a post on their official Instagram page read.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Art Dubai (@artdubai)

Last year, the annual art event donated 25 per cent of its ticket sales proceeds to Ukrainian refugees, amid the country’s conflict with Russia.   

The 16th edition of Art Dubai will take place at Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai from March 3 - 5.  

The gallery program will feature over 130 presentations from more than 40 countries and six continents, across four sections: Contemporary, Modern, Bawwaba (featuring exclusively new work) and Art Dubai Digital, and will include more than 30 first-time participants.  

Further highlights of the 2023 program include a series of 10 newly commissioned performance works by artists from across South Asia.  


Myazu head chef Ian Pengelley talks World’s 50 Best award honor for best restaurant in Saudi Arabia 

Myazu head chef Ian Pengelley talks World’s 50 Best award honor for best restaurant in Saudi Arabia 
Myazu head chef Ian Pengelley says he is “proud and honored” to have received the award. (Supplied)
Updated 08 February 2023

Myazu head chef Ian Pengelley talks World’s 50 Best award honor for best restaurant in Saudi Arabia 

Myazu head chef Ian Pengelley talks World’s 50 Best award honor for best restaurant in Saudi Arabia 

DUBAI: In a ceremony held last week in Abu Dhabi, Japanese eatery Myazu was named the best restaurant in Saudi Arabia by the World’s 50 Best Restaurants MENA list.   

Winning the honor for the second time in a row, Myazu head chef Ian Pengelley – a household name in Asian fine dining – says he is “proud and honored” to have received the accolade.   

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MYAZŪ SAUDI (@myazusaudi)

 

Known for its authentic Japanese food made using traditional techniques but with modern flair, Myazu first set up shop in Riyadh in December 2020, before opening up outlets in Jeddah and AlUla.  

“Obviously, there’s a lot of hard work involved in running a restaurant and when in the kitchen, your product must be consistent. And one of the things that we do well is we create the best team ever and the right environment for everybody to perform and create. And, again, more hard work,” said Pengelley when asked about the key ingredient to Myazu’s success in an interview with Arab News.   

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MYAZŪ SAUDI (@myazusaudi)

 

One of the things that Chef Pengelley likes to make sure he does before putting a menu together for a new restaurant is travel to the source, a guiding principle he used when designing Myazu’s menu in the UK and across other Asian markets. Moving to Saudi Arabia also posed an exciting challenge for Pengelley, who started out his career as a kitchen porter at the age of 16.  

“I have to be honest, it’s been very, very challenging, but also very, very exciting. A new region, undeveloped region in the restaurant scene. It's very challenging. But we've enjoyed it. And it's been great bringing people from all around the world and creating a fabulous team here,” said Pengelley.  

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MYAZŪ SAUDI (@myazusaudi)

 

Myazu, set up under the Modern Food Company umbrella, is set to build on the success of its popularity, says Pengelley.   

“We have just opened up another room, which is a bit more intimate and dark, called Arts by Myazu. We've also just created a liquid nitrogen ice cream trolley. So, we have a trolley that wheels around the restaurant and we actually make the ice cream in liquid nitrogen in front of the guests. So we’re trying to be innovative, creative and original. And fun. Lots of fun.”  

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by MYAZŪ SAUDI (@myazusaudi)

 

The Modern Food Company is also looking at exciting times ahead. “We have a new restaurant opening in in April called Robata, which is a Japanese robatayaki concept. Very sexy, very fun, very funky,” he said.