Arab-American artists: Dahlia Elsayed talks color & Hermès, New York City public commissions

Arab-American artists: Dahlia Elsayed talks color & Hermès, New York City public commissions
Dahlia Elsayed (left) and her project for luxury label Hermes in Palmer Square, Princeton, NJ (right). (Supplied)
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Updated 19 April 2023
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Arab-American artists: Dahlia Elsayed talks color & Hermès, New York City public commissions

Arab-American artists: Dahlia Elsayed talks color & Hermès, New York City public commissions
  • Major organizations — such as Newark Liberty International Airport, New York’s Pennsylvania Train Station, and French luxury label Hermès — have commissioned the artist for large-scale projects to be enjoyed by the public

DUBAI: The third in our series focusing on contemporary Arab-American artists in honor of Arab-American Heritage Month in April, this week we speak to Egyptian-American artist Dahlia Elsayed. 

In her fictional landscape paintings, the  artist dreams up her own colorful world. With an element of fantasy, compounded by bold geometry, she creates “a sense of a new place,” she explained. 

 




Parallel Incantations, a large scale public artwork at NYC Penn Station commissioned by US national passenger railroad company Amtrak. (Supplied)

“I think about this place as something that occurs in a different time,” Elsayed tells Arab News from her base in New Jersey. “Sometimes I feel that it could be historic or it could be the future.”  

In her earlier work, which she describes as “psychological maps,” a central theme she tackled was belonging — a comparison of places that were personal to Elsayed. Her body was in America, but her mind was in Egypt. “I was thinking about how do you carry these two places with you as you navigate the world,” she says.    




Horizontal When Possible (2022). (Supplied)

Elsayed was born to Egyptian parents in New York, and that heritage has hugely impacted her art. “Our house was like a mini-Egypt,” she says. “Everything was decorated the way an Arab house is. Our food, our language, the smells — all of that really affected my aesthetics and my understanding of place, color, shape, and form. It’s like the soundtrack that’s playing in your head, but in a visual way.”   

She still visits the buzzing streets of Cairo, where every corner — from a bakery’s signage to a display window — is a source of inspiration. “When people go to Egypt, they say that it’s so beige because of the sand. But when you look past that, it’s incredibly colorful,” she says.  




Thick of Things (2022). (Supplied)

Features of Arab architectural design, such as the Islamic patterns that adorn tiles and mosques, are present in her work. The resulting images are delightful and positive. The more you look at them, the more it feels as though you are contemplating natural scenery. “They will have an horizon line, for example — and then a sense of sky or land mass, and structures,” she says.  

Recently, her work has gone beyond the canvas. Major organizations, such as Newark Liberty International Airport, New York’s Pennsylvania Train Station, and Hermès, have commissioned her for large-scale projects to be enjoyed by the public.  

“It’s incredible that they knew about my work and that they trust me,” she says. “Having your ideas be human-scale is wild.” 


Amira Al-Zuhair walks for Yohji Yamamoto at Paris Fashion Week

Amira Al-Zuhair walks for Yohji Yamamoto at Paris Fashion Week
Updated 30 September 2023
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Amira Al-Zuhair walks for Yohji Yamamoto at Paris Fashion Week

Amira Al-Zuhair walks for Yohji Yamamoto at Paris Fashion Week

DUBAI: Saudi model Amira Al-Zuhair hit the runway for Japanese-helmed label Yohji Yamamoto and French jewelry brand Messika at Paris Fashion Week, just days after she walked for French label Balmain.

Japanese fashion designer Yamamoto, who is based in Tokyo and Paris, sent models down the runway in an assortment of all-black looks as part of the labels Spring/Summer 2024 collection.

Earlier in the week, Al-Zuhair opened the Balmain show during Paris Fashion Week. 

The rising star, who was born in Paris to a French mother and Saudi father, wore a white polka dot jumpsuit with colorful three-dimensional flower designs around the chest.  

When Gertrude Stein, a close confidant of house founder Pierre Balmain, penned “a rose is a rose is a rose,” she likely never envisaged its metamorphosis into a Paris runway’s guiding theme. Yet, designer Olivier Rousteing, embracing this iconic friendship, orchestrated a floral ode for Balmain’s Spring 2024 show. 

Rousteing channeled the essence of Balmain’s couture from the late 1940s and early 1950s, celebrating Balmain’s architectural wizardry. With every fold, cut and stitch, he echoed the legacy of the maison, fused with his own brazen touch. Sprinklings of the petit pois (polka dot), a staple from Monsieur Balmain’s era, added whimsy amid the blossoming rose narrative. 


K-Pop’s Super Junior ‘looking forward’ to performing at KCon in Saudi Arabia 

K-Pop’s Super Junior ‘looking forward’ to performing at KCon in Saudi Arabia 
Updated 30 September 2023
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K-Pop’s Super Junior ‘looking forward’ to performing at KCon in Saudi Arabia 

K-Pop’s Super Junior ‘looking forward’ to performing at KCon in Saudi Arabia 

DUBAI: South Korean boy band Super Junior are gearing up to perform at Saudi Arabia’s popular K-Pop music festival KCon, which will be held at Boulevard Riyadh City on Oct. 6 and 7. 

The group — which consists of Leeteuk, Heechul, Yesung, Shindong, Sungmin, Eunhyuk, Donghae, Siwon, Ryeowook and Kyuhyun — will hit the stage on Oct. 7.  

In an interview with Arab News, Shindong said that the group is looking forward “to proper fandom culture. I hope that singers and fans will work together to have a positive impact on society,” he said.  

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by KCON (@kconofficial)

 

For his part, Donghae, said:  “I am looking forward to performing in Saudi Arabia after a long time and I am glad to be able hear the cheering of Saudi fans again. I know that K-Pop is very popular in Saudi Arabia, so I want to perform there quickly.” 

“We will make you happy and (give you) precious memories  — as much as the time you waited,” he promised his fans.  

Ryeowook views art as a powerful connective tool.  

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by KCON (@kconofficial)

 

“We would be honored if many future artists were inspired by Super Junior and found themselves in great positions,” he told Arab News. “I want to show you songs and performances that can have a positive impact right here and now.”  

During the interview, Siwon said he would love to collaborate with local talent in the Kingdom. “I really hope this will happen. I believe that collaboration in the field of cultural exchange is a great development for both countries,” he said.  

Meanwhile, Leeteuk was surprised to learn that people in the Kingdom are fans of K-Pop. “I was very surprised and once again moved by their passion. I will do my best to repay their passionate love,” he said.  

Eunhyuk, who will perform twice at the festival, told Arab News: “We will be able to show you Super Junior and Super Junior-D&E’s performance together, so you will be able to see the charm of our diverse music and performances.” 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by KCON (@kconofficial)

 

Super Junior falls under South Korean multinational agency SM Entertainment, which manages groups like EXO, SuperM and Red Velvet.  

The first day of the festival will see performances by Riize, Everglow, Highlight, Hyolyn, Kard, Super Junior-D&E (which are members Donghae and Eunhyuk) and 8Turn.  

On the second day, Super Junior will perform alongside Dreamcatcher, El7z Up, Evnne, Oh My Girl, Tempest and TNX.  

The event, which launched in Los Angeles in 2012, is said to be one of the largest Korean cultural festivals worldwide.  

The Kingdom’s hosting of the event is part of an agreement signed between the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Seoul-based entertainment company CJ ENM in June 2022. It also reflects the ministry’s efforts to boost international cultural exchange in line with the goals of Vision 2030. 


Review: Chilling drama ‘Wilderness’ is a wild – if overly long – ride

Review: Chilling drama ‘Wilderness’ is a wild – if overly long – ride
Updated 30 September 2023
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Review: Chilling drama ‘Wilderness’ is a wild – if overly long – ride

Review: Chilling drama ‘Wilderness’ is a wild – if overly long – ride

LONDON: From the first beats of the first trailer, it’s very clear what “Wilderness” is about – newly married Liv (Jenna Coleman) has discovered her husband’s infidelity and, during a spectacular American road trip, decides to seek revenge in the most definitive way possible. It’s also set to Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do (Taylor’s Version)” so you don’t have to be Benoit Blanc to deduce what’s about to go down. 

But then you realize that “Wilderness” is six episodes long, so perhaps there’s more to the story than a simple tale of a scorned woman settling the score? 

Well, yes and no. There’s more to learn about Liv’s marriage to handsome, charismatic Will (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), her relationship with her abrasive mother (Claire Rushbrook) and what brought the newlyweds to the US in the first place. There’s more sleuthing for Liv to do as she reveals the extent of Will’s philandering, and there’s some commentary on the trope of the slighted wife and how reductive it can be.  

But there certainly isn’t six episode’s worth of material, so “Wilderness” ends up feeling stretched thin in some places, and overly padded in others. Ironically, after congratulating itself for reflexively highlighting how women are always assumed to be the unhinged victims of male misbehavior, the show decides to rob Liv of much of her agency. She’s either reacting to things Will has done, or scrabbling to adjust when his web of lies throws up another curveball. 

Coleman is captivating, that’s for sure, but she’s slightly penned in by a character who flits from empowered decisiveness to pleading submissive so easily that it’s hard to get a firm handle on exactly who Liv is. At times, she’s steely and cold, at others she falls foul of many of the tropes “Wilderness” attempts to send up.  

“Wilderness” is certainly a gorgeous, stylish show. It’s just a shame that it’s two episodes – and twists – too long.


Bruno Mars hits the stage with ‘Uptown Funk’ in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

Bruno Mars hits the stage with ‘Uptown Funk’ in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla
Updated 30 September 2023
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Bruno Mars hits the stage with ‘Uptown Funk’ in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

Bruno Mars hits the stage with ‘Uptown Funk’ in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla

DUBAI: Grammy-winning singer Bruno Mars was joined on stage at the Azimuth Canyon in AlUla by Saudi DJ Shaolin and DJ Loush on Friday night.

Mars’s performance was held at the same site that hosted the contemporary outdoor art exhibition Desert X AlUla in 2022 and where the flagship music and entertainment festival Azimuth took place the week prior.

The US singer-songwriter hit the stage with some of his greatest hits, including “Just The Way You Are” and “Uptown Funk” as the crowd sang along.

Meanwhile, DJ Shaolin previously hit the stage at some of Saudi Arabia’s leading events, including XP, MDLBEAST BRIJ, and the Red Sea International Film Festival, and has been a Resident DJ at Riyadh’s Black Tap since 2022. DJ Loush has played at MDLBEAST, F1, and the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The concert marked the launch of the AlUla Moments’ 2023/24 concert series.


Arab movies ‘Inshallah a Boy,’ ‘Bye Bye Tiberias’ join Oscars race 

Arab movies ‘Inshallah a Boy,’ ‘Bye Bye Tiberias’ join Oscars race 
Updated 29 September 2023
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Arab movies ‘Inshallah a Boy,’ ‘Bye Bye Tiberias’ join Oscars race 

Arab movies ‘Inshallah a Boy,’ ‘Bye Bye Tiberias’ join Oscars race 

DUBAI: Jordan has submitted Amjad Al-Rasheed’s movie “Inshallah a Boy” and Palestine submitted Lina Soualem’s documentary “Bye Bye Tiberias” for consideration in the Best International Feature Film category at the 96th Academy Awards, it was announced this week. 

This means that both films are considered for the shortlist. If the Arab movies get shortlisted, they could then get nominated for an Academy Award.

“Inshallah a Boy” was the first Jordanian film to compete in the Cannes Film Festival in May. The feature film was chosen to compete in Cannes Critics’ Week, a subsidiary event that ran alongside the 76th edition of the festival. 

“Bye Bye Tiberias” is by Lina Soualem. (Supplied)

The film, titled “Inshallah Walad” in Arabic, portrays the narrative of a young widow, Nawal, and her daughter, who are about to lose their home. 

The 90-minute film was shot last year in the Jordanian capital Amman over the course of five weeks. It received a Jordan Film Fund and Royal Film Commission production grant in 2019, as well as a post-production grant in 2022. 

In the much-hyped documentary “Bye Bye Tiberias,” Soualem, who is French, Palestinian and Algerian, captures the stories passed on by four generations of Palestinian women in her family, one of whom is her mother Hiam Abbass, the actress whose credits include “Succession,” “Ramy,” “Inheritance” and “Munich.”  

Soualem accompanies her mother and questions her choices as Abbass returns to her native Palestinian village 30 years after she left in her early 20s to follow her dream of becoming an actress in Europe, leaving behind her mother, grandmother, and seven sisters.  

The film will screen in the Documentary Competition section of the 67th BFI London Film Festival, set to take place from Oct. 4 – 15, 2023. 

Jordan and Palestine are not the only two Arab countries that submitted movies for the Oscars. 

Egypt has selected Mohamed Farag-starring “Voy Voy Voy!” while Yemen has selected director Amr Gamal’s “The Burdened” and Tunisia is competing with Kaouther Ben Hania’s “Four Daughters.”

Morocco has selected Asmae El Moudir’s documentary “The Mother of All Lies.”