Lebanese artist Hatem Imam stages show at unconventional theater location

Lebanese artist Hatem Imam stages show at unconventional theater location
Metro Al-Madina, Hatem Imam. (Paul Gorra)
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Updated 18 July 2023
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Lebanese artist Hatem Imam stages show at unconventional theater location

Lebanese artist Hatem Imam stages show at unconventional theater location

DUBAI: A Lebanese painter has put a new perspective on showcasing his visual art.

Instead of displaying his works in a museum, gallery, or cultural center, Hatem Imam’s latest exhibition is taking place in the dimly lit interior of Beirut theater Metro Al-Madina.

The theater recently relocated there as part of an initiative to diversify its cultural activities with events such as Imam’s art show.




Metro Al-Madina, Hatem Imam. (Paul Gorra)

He told Arab News: “The paintings and prints are not displayed in the typical manner, in a white cube and side by side.

“The scenography, lighting, and sound have a performative aspect that felt more at home in a theater space than an art gallery. The Metro family generously accepted to experiment with me on this show.”

Running until July 20, the exhibition, produced by the non-profit gallery Art Design Lebanon, is titled “Slumber’s Tongues,” and showcases a selection of more than 20 abstract artworks that Imam has worked on for the past six months.




Metro Al-Madina, Hatem Imam. (Paul Gorra)

He said: “The work looks at language, and at different tongues with which we communicate. In front of abstract art, our brains strain to find meaning, to attach to familiar forms, to fill in the gaps.”

Imam, who has a background in graphic design and fine arts, has been particularly inspired by the printmaking skills of European masters Rembrandt, Whistler, and Degas, and he described his painting style as “sitting between abstraction and figuration.”

He added: “My scenes could look like depictions of land, natural formations, rocks, streams, and waterfalls, but they are always simultaneously undone by elements that break the illusion of space.




Metro Al-Madina, Hatem Imam. (Paul Gorra)

“Perspective is hinted at but never fully formed. In many cases the viewer is left wondering if what they are seeing is an extreme closeup or in fact an aerial view.”

Imam’s compositions are sometimes made of decaying forms but thrive with intense colors. One aspect of his show brings to light “concerns that pervaded his process” in a city that continues to deal with struggles on a daily basis.

He said: “One of the main questions that haunts painters is the relevance of painting today. Where are we in relation to painting? And to be more specific, where are we, the people who live in this ravaged and devastated Beirut, in relation to abstract painting?”


Chef Fadi Kattan’s debut cookbook celebrates Palestinian cuisine

Chef Fadi Kattan’s debut cookbook celebrates Palestinian cuisine
Updated 22 June 2024
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Chef Fadi Kattan’s debut cookbook celebrates Palestinian cuisine

Chef Fadi Kattan’s debut cookbook celebrates Palestinian cuisine

DUBAI: Franco-Palestinian chef Fadi Kattan says the release of his debut cookbook, which pays tribute to Palestinian cuisine, feels “confusing.”

More than eight months have passed since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, and the current catastrophe is something Kattan could never have predicted when he began writing the book two years ago.

However, in the middle of every difficulty lies an opportunity, as they say.

Kattan is based in Bethlehem. (Supplied)

“None of us imagined this horror,” Kattan, who is based in Bethlehem, told Arab News. “On the one hand, I think we need it. People need to see what we are and who we are. We have had enough of this monolithic, dehumanizing image of Palestinians. At the same time, it’s very difficult to be talking about food and celebrating food in this situation.”

The pages of Kattan’s book, “Bethlehem,” reveal a personal portrait through vibrant snapshots of local foods and markets, natural landscapes, Kattan’s family members, and Bethlehem’s culinary community. Designed by Lebanese illustrator Nourie Flayhan, the book cover features warm hues of red and yellow, embellished with a border of patterned embroidery, reportedly native to Bethlehem. It is a love letter to Kattan’s ancient hometown.

Divided into the four seasons of the year, “Bethlehem” features over 60 recipes. (Supplied)

“Bethlehem is called ‘the city’, but in reality it’s a small town,” he said. “It’s a very interesting place. It has a lot of history. The symbolism is very strong because you have (one of) the oldest churches in the world, Church of the Nativity, and opposite it you have the Mosque of Omar. It refers to Omar Ibn Khattab’s pledge to not build mosques in place of churches, but next door. And I think that’s a very strong message of the fact that there’s no coexistence here: We’re all Palestinian. It’s beyond coexistence.” 

Despite Bethlehem’s vibrancy, Kattan says his home has been impacted by the Israeli occupation. The settlements and concrete walls give the “feeling that the city is being choked more and more. At the same time, what I see in Bethlehem is the resilience of people and the fact that people are still surviving and are still here, even though a lot of the components of a normal life are not there.”

“Bethlehem” includes recipes such as taboon bread, cauliflower makloubeh and stuffed eggplant. (Supplied)

Tourism in Bethlehem has also taken a hit since last year’s Oct. 7 attacks, he adds.

Divided into the four seasons of the year, “Bethlehem” features over 60 recipes including classics such as taboon bread, cauliflower makloubeh and stuffed eggplant. The chef describes his recipes as accessible, aiming to make Palestinian food as approachable as French or Italian cooking. He also touched upon the contested topic of Israel’s appropriation of Palestinian food and culture. “I don’t always fight it. I think that just telling our story is enough, because our story is the real story,” he said with a smile.

Kattan, who founded the modern Palestinian eatery “Akub” in London, hopes readers will “make a mess” out of his book. “I want them to cook with it and make their copies dirty,” he said. “I want it to be a book in kitchens across the world.”

Chef Fadi Kattan’s cheese-stuffed grape leaves

Chef Fadi Kattan’s cheese-stuffed grape leaves. (Supplied)

Serves 10

Ingredients:  

Cheese parcels 

20 fresh grape leaves (or substitute leaves stored in brine) 
1 tablespoon raisins 
Olive oil, for brushing 
150 g / 5 1⁄4 ounces Akkawi or Nabulsi cheese (or substitute another fresh brined cheese, 
such as halloumi, fresh Syrian cheese, or queso blanco) 

2 small tomatoes, thinly sliced 
3 tablespoons dried and crumbled zaatar leaves (or substitute oregano)

Dressing: 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
1 pinch of salt 
Leaves of 5 sprigs of fresh mint or fresh zaatar or another green herb of choice 
2 drops of water (optional)

Method: 

  1. To make the parcels, if you’re using fresh grape leaves, blanch the whole leaves in a large pot of lightly salted water until they turn a deep green and are soft to the touch, 5 to 7 minutes depending on the thickness of the leaves. Drain well. 
  2. Put the raisins in a bowl filled with enough warm water to cover them, because we need to hydrate them slightly.
  3. Brush ten little ramekins, 5 to 7 cm / 2 to 3 inches in diameter, with a bit of olive oil. Place two grape leaves in each one, with the top side downwards so that when we flip the ramekin, we’ll end up with the outside of the leaves facing up.
  4. Cut the cheese into ten equal portions. Drain the raisins.
  5. Put one piece of cheese, a slice of tomato, a few raisins, and a bit of zaatar leaves on the grape leaves. Fold the leaves to enclose the filling in the ramekins.
  6. Preheat the oven to 160°C / 325°F. Place the ramekins in a roasting pan and fill the pan with water to the height of the grape leaves in the ramekins.
  7. Cover the top of the ramekins with a baking sheet; we don’t want the grape leaves to dry out.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the ramekins from the water bath and let cool.
  9. When you’re ready to serve, flip the ramekins onto plates to see the beautiful stuffed grape leaves.
  10. To make the dressing, combine the olive oil, salt, and herbs in a blender and process to a homogenous green sauce. Add the water to thin the dressing, if needed.
  11. Sprinkle it on top of the grape leaves and serve.

The Saudi artist’s gallery celebrates unbounded imagination

Saudi artist Mohammed Abubshait. (AN photo by Loai El-Kelawy)
Saudi artist Mohammed Abubshait. (AN photo by Loai El-Kelawy)
Updated 21 June 2024
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The Saudi artist’s gallery celebrates unbounded imagination

Saudi artist Mohammed Abubshait. (AN photo by Loai El-Kelawy)
  • Mohammed Abubshait’s ‘Living in Wonderland’ is a treasure trove of imaginative expression

RIYADH: Saudi artist Mohammed Abubshait has created a haven for other artists in Riyadh. His gallery, Living in Wonderland, is a treasure trove of imaginative artistic expression.

“Art has always been in my blood, and I believe it is in everyone’s blood. I used to mess around with my clothes, accessories, goods, cars, and whatever else. I don’t like the way things are,” Abubshait told Arab News.

After 10 years as an employee at an oil company, he chose to switch gears and pursue his passion for creating art out of various materials including metal, wood, and resin.  

“When COVID-19 hit, I decided work on my art and I ended up with 150 pieces … I decided to open a gallery in Riyadh to showcase them,” he explained. “It was kind of risky at the time because, as you see, this is not a typical art gallery. It’s different — a lot of pop art, street art and things that are a bit outside-of-the-box.”

The Living in Wonderland gallery is bursting with delightful and amazing things. Guests are immersed in a world of imagination where they can appreciate artistic expression and discover new perspectives. (AN photo by Loai El-Kelawy)

Abubshait opened Living in Wonderland in 2020. “Many of us have seen and grew up with ‘Alice in Wonderland.’ It’s an escape to another world — unrealistic, creative, no boundaries,” he said. “So, I thought it would fit the creative idea and concept that we’re looking for. (The gallery) takes you down the rabbit hole to another world.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• The gallery supports many local artists, work created in a variety of mediums, with a particular focus on modern and pop art.

• It also currently includes work by artists from Mali, Italy, the UK and the US. Prices range from SR2 (50 cents), to more than SR20,000.

The gallery supports — and sells the work of — many local artists, work created in a variety of mediums, with a particular focus on modern and pop art. It also currently includes work by artists from Mali, Italy, the UK and the US. Prices range from SR2 (50 cents), to more than SR20,000.

The Living in Wonderland gallery is bursting with delightful and amazing things. Guests are immersed in a world of imagination where they can appreciate artistic expression and discover new perspectives. (AN photo by Loai El-Kelawy)

“We’ve got something for everyone,” Abubshait said. “I believe we introduced something unique and different to the market.”

From paintings and sculptures to installations and interactive displays, the gallery features an eclectic mix of work that pushes boundaries, giving visitors an intriguing and thought-provoking experience.

The Living in Wonderland gallery is bursting with delightful and amazing things. Guests are immersed in a world of imagination where they can appreciate artistic expression and discover new perspectives. (AN photo by Loai El-Kelawy)

Abubshait is also known for incorporating currency — both real and virtual — into his work.

“The majority of my art features money in the background, whether Saudi riyals or American dollars,” he said. “And the cryptocurrency Bitcoin is one of my signature backgrounds. People ask me why I use money and I’m, like, ‘Well, we use money in our everyday lives.’ Everyone can manifest money.”

The Living in Wonderland gallery is bursting with delightful and amazing things. Guests are immersed in a world of imagination where they can appreciate artistic expression and discover new perspectives. (AN photo by Loai El-Kelawy)

The gallery also offers a variety of workshops including resin, rug tufting, and painting.

“If you haven’t been to Living in Wonderland yet, even if you’re not an art fan, you should come and socialize. People (often come here) to work. If you’re looking for a distinct feel, a different ambience, and something exciting, then you must visit,” Abubshait said.

 

 


The best movies of 2024 so far 

The best movies of 2024 so far 
Updated 21 June 2024
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The best movies of 2024 so far 

The best movies of 2024 so far 
  • Senegal shines, ‘Hit Man’ is a hit, and Zendaya slays it — twice

‘Dune: Part Two’ 

The second instalment in Denis Villeneuve’s adaptation of Frank Herbert’s epic sci-fi saga isn’t just one of this year’s best films, but has a strong argument for being one of the best sci-fi movies of all time. It follows Paul Atreides (Timothee Chalomet) as he attempts to earn the trust of the native Fremen people of the desert planet Arrakis to persuade them to help him take down House Harkonnen, who are responsible for the massacre of Paul’s own house. This sprawling second chapter covers some heavy themes, including love versus duty, religious extremism, and the morality of violence, but always keeps sight of the need to entertain its audience. This it does throughout its almost three-hour running time with some dazzling battle sequences, the central love story between two of Hollywood’s biggest young stars (Chalomet and Zendaya’s fierce Fremen woman Chani), and thrilling sandworm rides.  

‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’ 

With two hugely bankable stars (Anya Taylor-Joy and Chris Hemsworth), a lauded director (George Miller), and the fact that it’s a prequel and spin-off to one of the finest action movies of the past 10 years (“Mad Max: Fury Road”) — itself a part of a hugely popular post-apocalyptic franchise, “Furiosa” looked set to be one of the year’s box-office blockbusters. Instead, it was a relative flop. But that shouldn’t be taken as any reflection of its quality: Taylor-Joy is excellent in the lead role, finding an emotional connection to Charlize Theron’s portrayal of Furiosa in “Fury Road,” Hemsworth holds nothing back in his performance as the evil warlord biker Dementus, the action scenes are astounding (of course, it’s George Miller), the screenplay (uncommonly for a “Mad Max” film) has real depth, and the whole thing makes for brilliant big-screen entertainment.  

‘Hit Man’ 

Despite the title, director Richard Linklater’s latest isn’t filled with cunningly planned “Killing Eve”-style assassinations. Instead, it’s an entertaining blend of noir-thriller, black comedy, and romance held together by Glenn Powell in the lead role of Gary Johnson, a mild-mannered university professor who adopts a variety of personas while working for the New Orleans police department as a fake contract killer in order to catch people thinking of hiring an actual assassin. That wild premise is actually based (very loosely) on a true story. Johnson finds himself in trouble when he falls hard for a potential client, the beautiful Madison (Adria Arjona). Unwilling to get her sent to prison, he begins a relationship with her, but as “Ron,” his latest alter-ego. Inevitably, Johnson’s plan doesn’t go smoothly, and the results make for a great cinematic romp. 

‘Io Capitano’ 

Migrants and refugees have become populist political scapegoats, and with so much news coverage around the clock inuring others to the hardships those groups face, it takes something special to cut through. Director Matteo Garrone and his Senegalese star Seydou Sarr provide it with “Io Capitano,” which follows two young cousins, Seydou and Moussa, on a perilous journey from Dakar to Europe — a journey they undertake not because of the threat of starvation or violence, but because they want to travel and see the world, just as young people in the developed world do. Garrone mixes magical realism and graphic horror to convey the traumas the cousins have to deal with, and, in Seydou, gives us a memorable hero. The dialogue may be sparse, but “Io Capitano” packs a real emotional punch.    

‘Challengers’ 

Hollywood’s brightest young female star, Zendaya, steals the show in Luca Guadagnino’s sporty romantic drama. She plays former tennis prodigy Tashi Duncan, who’s now a coach after an injury forced her retirement. She’s coaching her husband, Art (Mike Faist), who just needs a US Open win to complete a Career Grand Slam. But Art is struggling with form and fitness, so Tashi enters him in a minor event in New York, hoping he’ll pick up a win and a confidence boost. But facing him is his former best friend (and competitor for Tashi’s affections), Patrick (Josh O’Connor). And it seems like he’s still carrying a torch for her, and vice-versa. The story gets pretty silly, but the performances of — and chemistry between — its three stars make “Challengers” a lot of fun. Great soundtrack, too. 

‘Civil War’ 

Alex Garland’s dystopian thriller — which follows a team of war journalists traveling from New York to Washington DC during a US civil war between an authoritarian government and a loose coalition of regional factions — has proven divisive, with some arguing Garland is championing style (this is the most expensive film so far made by distributor A24) over substance, and others arguing that there’s too much intellectual substance and not enough emotion. All of which suggests that maybe Garland has pitched his take on the horror of war, and the traumas faced by those involved and those reporting on it, just right. Visually, it’s stunning — the shots of war-torn suburbia as breathtaking as the famous scene from 2002’s “28 Days Later” (which Garland wrote) when Cillian Murphy awakes from a coma and staggers out into London’s abandoned streets — and Garland proves a master at ratcheting up the suspense whenever a new encounter happens. Treat it as entertainment, and not a thesis, and “Civil War” is worth a watch.  


Recipes for success: Chef Thomas Jean-Paul Pascal Colette offers advice and a special salad recipe

Recipes for success: Chef Thomas Jean-Paul Pascal Colette offers advice and a special salad recipe
Updated 21 June 2024
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Recipes for success: Chef Thomas Jean-Paul Pascal Colette offers advice and a special salad recipe

Recipes for success: Chef Thomas Jean-Paul Pascal Colette offers advice and a special salad recipe

DUBAI: French chef Thomas Jean-Paul Pascal Colette has worked in Michelin-starred kitchens in Paris and influential eateries in Moscow. He is now chef de cuisine at The St. Regis Red Sea Resort’s overwater restaurant Tilina.  

Colette says his grandmother, also a chef, was the inspiration behind his passion for cooking. “I always helped her, and it became quite natural that, when I was around, like, 12, if I was alone at home, I would try to cook something for myself, or for my family,” he tells Arab News. 

Here, he discusses common kitchen mistakes, annoying customers, tips for amateur chefs and shares a special salad recipe. 

Tilina at The St. Regis Red Sea Resort. (Supplied)

When you started out, what was the most common mistake you made? 

Seasoning. I started out in a Michelin-starred restaurant, and there, it wasn’t just salt and pepper. It was all about the balance in the dish, so you also need to think about the acidity and things like that. So at the beginning it was quite complicated. Every time my chef tried something I made, he was, like, “No, it’s not good. It’s missing this, this and that.” 

What’s your top tip for amateur chefs? 

Don’t be scared to experiment, and don’t be scared to fail, because, actually, many great dishes came from failure. So try and enjoy it — that’s what cooking is all about. 

What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish? 

Many chefs will say it’s love — because you need to care about and love what you are doing. But for me, it’s salt. Seasoning is so important. Even if you have the best ingredients, if you don’t season them, they’ll lack flavor.  

When you go out to eat, do you find yourself critiquing the food?  

No. Even if there’s something wrong, I would never tell the chef. If I see a mistake on the service side, or if there is food I don’t like, I would just try and learn from it to prevent my own customers from experiencing it. 

Tilina at The St. Regis Red Sea Resort. (Supplied)

What’s your favorite cuisine?  

It’s really about the chef, not the cuisine. If I want to go to a restaurant, then I’ll find a chef that I want to try, so it will be either be a set menu or his signature dish. And when I go back to France, I have to have a nice steak tartare. 

What’s your go-to dish if you have to cook something quickly at home? 

Pasta. You can play with it so much — you can make it with fish, with meat, with vegetables… Boil some water, put some pasta in, and see what you have in the fridge: maybe some shrimp, some tomato, a little bit of garlic and parsley. That’s perfect. 

What customer behavior most annoys you? 

Asking to change an ingredient in a dish. When I make a dish, it’s all about the balance. So, if you take out one ingredient, then the idea behind the dish doesn’t make sense anymore. I really try to avoid doing this. I’ll go and talk with the guest, and rather than change the dish, maybe try to do something special for them, something else that they would like. 

What is your favorite dish to cook? 

Seafood. This was my childhood in Normandy: When the sea was low on Sundays, we would go and pick up fresh fish. We’d go back home and cook them very simply, with a little bit of garlic, parsley, cream, and that’s it. So seafood always reminds me of this time. 

As a head chef, what are you like? Are you strict? 

You can’t run a kitchen without discipline, everyone needs to be focused during service. But, I don’t believe that discipline comes from shouting, it comes from mutual respect.  

Chef Thomas’ Red Sea Salad recipe 

INGREDIENTS: 

500g heirloom tomatoes; 3 Carabineros prawns; 10g chives; 10g salmon roe; 5g gelatine leaves; 1 egg yolk; 100g grapeseed oil or sunflower oil; 10g olive oil; 1 lemon; 50g parsley (leaves)  

INSTRUCTIONS: 

For the tomato jelly  

1. Process 250g of tomatoes in a blender. Once the mixture becomes smooth, strain it through a cheesecloth. 

2. Place the gelatine leaves in cold water. 

3. Take 50g of the tomato mixture and heat to 50° C. Add the gelatine, let it melt and then add the rest of the tomato mix. 

4. Pour 80g of it into each of three bowls and place in refrigerator. 

For the tomato tartare  

1. Boil 1L of water. 

2. Using a small knife, make a small cross at the bottom of the remaining tomatoes. 

3. Put the tomatoes in the boiling water for 10 seconds, then put them in iced water, remove the skin and dry them with a paper towel. 

4. Cut the tomatoes into four, remove the insides to get tomato petals. (Keep the insides for later, they can be used for a sauce.) 

5. Chop the tomato petals into cubes of 0.5mm. 

6. Finely chop the chives. 

7. Mix the tomatoes and chives with 5g olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, and salt, then place in the refrigerator. 

For the marinated prawns  

1. Clean the prawns. (Tip: If you keep the heads and the shell they can be used in a sauce or soup later). 

2. Chop the prawns in 1cm cubes. 

3. Mix the prawns with 5g olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, and lemon zest. Let them marinate for 10 minutes.  

For the parsley mayo  

1. Warm up 100g of grapeseed oil to 72°C, then pour it into blender with parsley leaves and mix for two minutes. 

2. Strain the mixture through a cheesecloth. 

3. Put 1 egg yolk, salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk while slowly adding the parsley oil. 

Plating  

1. Take your plates of jelly out of the refrigerator 

2. Place a circular disc on the jelly and put 1.5cm of tomatoes and 1.5cm of marinated prawn inside. Remove the circle. 

3. Finish with a few dots of parsley mayo and a few dots of salmon roe. 


Highlights from artist Maisara Baroud’s ‘I’m Still Alive’ exhibition

Highlights from artist Maisara Baroud’s ‘I’m Still Alive’ exhibition
Updated 21 June 2024
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Highlights from artist Maisara Baroud’s ‘I’m Still Alive’ exhibition

Highlights from artist Maisara Baroud’s ‘I’m Still Alive’ exhibition

DUBAI: Here are three highlights from Maisara Baroud’s ‘I’m Still Alive,’ which runs at Zawyeh Gallery in Ramallah until June 23. 

‘I’m Still Alive No. 1’ 

In the early days of the ongoing Israeli military assault on his hometown of Gaza, artist Maisara Baroud lost both his home and his studio. So he took to drawing a diary, which he has continued as the devastating violence continues, “to tell my friends that I am still alive.” This exhibition sees artists including Mohammad Sabaaneh recreating Baroud’s works in Ramallah. 

‘I’m Still Alive No. 3’ 

“To declare that Maisara is still alive is a declaration that we are all still alive too,” Sabaaneh said in a statement. “So, we don’t become neutral in this genocidal war targeting and annihilating Palestinians physically and spiritually, we decided to participate in re-drawing Maisara’s paintings in Ramallah, playing the same role of a prisoner smuggling another prisoner’s paintings out of prison.” 

‘I’m Still Alive No. 5’ 

On June 23, Baroud’s works will be wiped from the walls, “highlighting the project’s impermanence and the transient nature of the war, hoping for an end to the occupation nightmare one day, as “no condition is permanent,’” the organizers stated. “The exhibition serves as a tribute to Baroud and Palestinians in Gaza.”