Saudi art on show as 17th edition of UAE fair launched

Special Saudi art on show as 17th edition of UAE fair launched
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Abdulsattar Al-Mussa’s work, which was created in the 1980s, is currently on show at Art Dubai. (Rawaa Talass/Arab News)
Special Saudi art on show as 17th edition of UAE fair launched
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Saudi artist Bashaer Hawsawi’s “Holy Thirst” is on show at Hafez Gallery’s booth at Art Dubai. (Rawaa Talass/Arab News)
Special Saudi art on show as 17th edition of UAE fair launched
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The Sabrina Amrani Gallery is showcasing work by Saudi artist Manal Al-Dowayan. (Rawaa Talass/Arab News)
Special Saudi art on show as 17th edition of UAE fair launched
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Saudi artist Ayman Yossri Daydban’s work is on show at Athr Galley’s booth at Art Dubai. (Rawaa Talass/Arab News)
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Updated 29 February 2024
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Saudi art on show as 17th edition of UAE fair launched

Saudi art on show as 17th edition of UAE fair launched
  • Jeddah-based Hafez Gallery will be showcasing rare black-and-white works on cardboard by Saudi artist Abdulsattar Al-Mussa
  • Jeddah’s Athr Gallery will be putting on a solo exhibition of works by Saudi artist Ayman Yossri Daydban

DUBAI: The 17th edition of Art Dubai will showcase works from more than 120 galleries around the world.

And Saudi artists will be among the participants in the international art fair running from March 1 to 3.

Jeddah-based Hafez Gallery will be showcasing rare black-and-white works on cardboard by Saudi artist Abdulsattar Al-Mussa.

Born in Al-Ahsa in 1955, and educated in the Soviet Union during the 1970s, his works were created in the 1980s and use thickly contoured lines to depict everyday scenes in his native Saudi Arabia.

The gallery’s curatorial director, Alexandra Stock, told Arab News: “People have been asking a lot of questions about Abdulsattar’s work. They’re very intrigued by the technique.

“I think it’s important to show Abdulsattar at Art Dubai because he has had a lot of success abroad, but it’s very nice that he is having another upwind, a push in the region, that he’s being acknowledged back home,” she said.

The fair’s sections cover contemporary, bawwaba, modern, and digital art.

In the contemporary part, a Hafez Gallery booth will be displaying the work of Saudi creative Bashaer Hawsawi, whose visual artwork has been constructed from dried palm leaves formed into patterns and figures.

She told Arab News: “I used to come to Art Dubai just to visit. Being here means a lot to me.”

Her exhibit, “Holy Thirst,” was inspired by her maternal family’s fashioning of palm fronds into everyday domestic tools.

Jeddah’s Athr Gallery will be putting on a solo exhibition of works by Saudi artist Ayman Yossri Daydban, who for decades has worked in a variety of mediums.

Some of the European galleries represented at the fair will also be highlighting artists from the Kingdom.

From Austria, Galerie Krinzinger will be displaying a piece by Maha Malluh, known for creating large installations made from items popular in bygone eras. Her long rectangular panel festooned with cassette tapes is part of her “Food For Thought” series in which she mounts countless objects on walls, many collected from markets in Saudi Arabia.

Madrid-based gallerist Sabrina Amrani has dedicated half of her booth to a selection of photographic, sculptural, and textile works by Saudi artist Manal Al-Dowayan, who will represent the Kingdom at the Venice Biennale in April.

Amrani told Arab News: “The feedback has been amazing. Manal is a very dear artist of Dubai. She had her studio here for many years, contributing to the arts scene greatly here. These works feel at home.”


Young Saudi artist finds beauty in the ordinary

Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif.
Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif.
Updated 16 April 2024
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Young Saudi artist finds beauty in the ordinary

Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif.
  • Dana Almasoud’s works are inspired by historical Middle Eastern and European art aesthetics

RIYADH: When picking up a pencil or paintbrush to create an artwork, self-taught Saudi artist Dana Almasoud channels her inner child.

“As soon as a child picks up a pencil, they attempt to draw or capture a sense of what they see through their eyes on paper. The majority of them stop at some point in their childhood, for whatever reason,” Almasoud told Arab News.

Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)

“Fortunately, I was one of the few who never did. I had the luxury of a supportive mother who always looked forward to my next scribble.”

While pursuing her undergraduate studies in finance, as a freelance artist Almasoud explores a variety of styles, from fine art to surrealism and fantasy inspired by everyday scenes.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Much of Dana Almasoud’s work is inspired by Islamic historical art, characterized by its symbolism and emphasis on the beauty of spirituality.

• One of her first works inspired by Saudi culture was a commission from a man who wanted a portrait in the orientalist style.

• The artist says her work is an attempt to fill the void that excess simplicity and minimalism has created in recent years.

“The warm morning sun, the singing of the birds, the stoplights and the people. I am surrounded by life and I do my best to pour what I see into my work. What makes us human is how we make things from nothing,” she said.

Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)

Speaking about the “sanctuary” she has created in her room, she said: “It took me years of collecting, arranging and a lot of dedication to get it to how it is now.”

Much of Almasoud’s work is inspired by Islamic historical art, characterized by its symbolism and emphasis on the beauty of spirituality.

As a freelance artist Dana Almasoud explores a variety of styles, from fine art to surrealism and fantasy inspired by everyday scenes. (Instagram/esotericdana)

“In order for me to create things that resemble life, it only makes sense to use colors that already exist in nature,” she said.

“I take a lot of inspiration from historical art, both from Europe and the Middle East, since the pigments they used were extracted from natural sources and were perfectly saturated.”

Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)

She enjoys experimenting with new mediums, but drawing with a pencil is her preferred choice.

“I also do enjoy the occasional challenge of an ink brush, because once it sets its bristles on paper, you cannot go back. When it comes to painting with color (watercolors, acrylics, oils), I still consider myself in the process of learning,” she said.

The warm morning sun, the singing of the birds, the stoplights and the people. I am surrounded by life and I do my best to pour what I see into my work.

Dana Almasoud, Saudi artist

“I also experiment with pyrography, doll making, embroidery, linoleum block printing and, soon, murals.”

Almasoud said one of her first works inspired by Saudi culture was a commission from a man who wanted to look like an orientalist.

Almasoud’s painting of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green ‘shoulders’ found in Qatif. (Supplied)

Her most recent painting is of a man selling ramsi tomatoes, the seasonal heirloom fruits with green “shoulders” that are prevalent in Qatif.

“These tomatoes are known for a special flavor and a lot of farmers from various lands tried to grow it themselves, but to no avail. For some reason, these tomatoes only taste special when they grow on that specific piece of land,” Almasoud said.

She said she had been told her work had “a layer of fog, where the edges are never harsh,” which reflects the high levels of humidity in the Eastern Province where she lives.

“I can see the Arabian Gulf from the window of my room. You can imagine the high rates of humidity, which is where I think that layer came from,” she said.

“I will always wonder how this translated into what I draw, but regardless, I do love it.”

Almasoud said her art was an attempt to fill the void that excess simplicity and minimalism has created in recent years.

“My art is an attempt to inspire people back to see the beauty in complexity and the intricacy of the small things in life.”

Speaking about the importance of art in the modern world, she said: “With the increase in the pace of the world, art has become even more important. It gives people and their minds something to hang on to, for them to not lose themselves and their identities in a busy world.”

For more information about the artist visit @esotericdana on Instagram.

 


Israeli artist shuts Venice Biennale exhibit until ‘ceasefire agreement happens’

Israeli artist shuts Venice Biennale exhibit until ‘ceasefire agreement happens’
Updated 16 April 2024
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Israeli artist shuts Venice Biennale exhibit until ‘ceasefire agreement happens’

Israeli artist shuts Venice Biennale exhibit until ‘ceasefire agreement happens’

DUBAI: Israeli artist Ruth Patir has shut down her national pavilion at the Venice Art Biennale, saying that she will only reopen it when a “ceasefire agreement happens” between Israel and Hamas.  

Patir said in a statement on Instagram: “I feel that the time for art is lost and I need to believe it will return. We (Tamar, Mira and I) have become the news, not the art. And so, if I am given such a remarkable stage, I want to make it count.

“I have therefore decided that the pavilion will only open when the release of hostages and ceasefire agreement happens,” she added. “This has been our decision and we stand by it. I am an artist and educator, I firmly object to cultural boycott, but since I feel there are answers, and I can only do what I can with the space I have, I prefer to raise my voice with those I stand with in their scream, ceasefire now, bring the people back from captivity. We can’t take it anymore.”

In February, thousands of people, including artists, curators and museum directors, signed an online appeal calling for Israel to be excluded from this year’s art fair and accusing the country of “genocide” in Gaza.

“Any official representation of Israel on the international cultural stage is an endorsement of its policies and of the genocide in Gaza,” said the online statement by the Art Not Genocide Alliance (ANGA) collective.

ANGA said the Venice Biennale had previously banned South Africa over its apartheid policy of white minority rule and excluded Russia after its 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

Italian Culture Minister Gennaro Sangiuliano said the appeal was an “unacceptable, as well as shameful ... diktat of those who believe they are the custodians of truth, and with arrogance and hatred, think they can threaten freedom of thought and creative expression.”

Dubbed the “Olympics of the art world,” the Biennale is one of the main events in the international arts calendar. This year’s edition, “Foreigners Everywhere,” is due to host pavilions from 90 countries between April 20 and Nov. 24.


Saudi independent musician takes road less traveled

Saudi independent musician takes road less traveled
Updated 15 April 2024
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Saudi independent musician takes road less traveled

Saudi independent musician takes road less traveled
  • Artist SOVL speaks on the challenges and joys of making music independently

RIYADH: As the music scene diversifies in Saudi Arabia, from psychedelic rock to electronic dance, young artist SOVL is bringing a new flavor to the mix.

SOVL is a self-taught independent musician who was on a quest to create a top-notch, industry-standard album on his own that reflected his personal artistry and carried a meaningful narrative. He platformed a distinct blend of alternative, modern, and indie rock, all rooted in the DNA of guitar music.

“As an independent musician, it’s a harder process than someone, say, signed to a label. But I try to take advantage of what I have,” he said.

SOVL visually represents the theme of ‘Too Much Is Not Enough’ on the album’s cover with the image of the artist pouring water into an already large and abundant sea. (Supplied)

The Saudi rockstar, 22, debuted his first album “Too Much Is Not Enough” last December. The album represented a bold artistic leap as SOVL, a producer, songwriter, and singer, ventured into the captivating realm of full-length storytelling through his music.

The 10-track work is an emotional odyssey. Open to interpretation, the songs become a canvas upon which the listener’s own feelings are painted.

In a world where the pursuit of “too much” often takes center stage, “Too Much Is Not Enough” offers a message that resonates with all: In the pursuit of everything, we must not forget to preserve the most essential part of our being — ourselves.

I firmly believe that you can write and record music right from your own bedroom and doing so can make the final product more genuine, presenting your art exactly as you envision it.

SOVL, Saudi music artist

But before the full body of work came along, his journey was nothing but relentless.

“When I laid my hands on my first electric guitar in 2019, I was taking a different approach in learning the instrument,” he said. His technique was more makeshift than anything: placing his fingers wherever they landed or strumming whatever sounded right until he began learning some basics of guitar chord theory.

SOVL, Saudi music artist

He later began recording his music on the beginner-friendly GarageBand before moving on to using the Logic Pro software and experimenting with different sounds.

SOVL released his single “What’s Going On?” in 2021, his first official launch into the local music scene as an indie alternative artist. The refreshing sound brings listeners back to the rock gems of the 70s like The Who and The Clash, who inspired much of his music.

He also tries to infuse a bit of Arabic spirit into his music; the oud instrument makes an appearance in some of his songs, including “Ana.”

While making music is the easy part, some other aspects of the industry like marketing and distribution can be difficult to tackle.

A record label, for example, would handle cover art, music video production, and music distribution. “It (would have) been much easier to sign with a record label so they could get all that sorted,” he said.

Regardless of the challenges, SOVL expressed his joy in having the freedom of creative direction: “I’m a strong advocate for the do-it-yourself approach. I firmly believe that you can write and record music right from your own bedroom and doing so can make the final product more genuine, presenting your art exactly as you envision it.

“Don’t get me wrong; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with signing to a major label,” he noted. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for those who have it. However, in a world flooded with too much music content, it can be challenging to stand out and get your unique sound heard.”

For his first album’s cover art, he enlisted the help of his friends. They took an impromptu one-day trip to the Eastern Province for the makeshift photoshoot and ended up filming one of his music videos there as well.

“It takes a whole lot of belief, and my friends have had my back since the get-go,” he said about the experience.

Many independent artists now are utilizing social media platforms like TikTok to promote their music, but SOVL says their approach is a bit “cliche” for his persona.

Personifying a rather mysterious image, hence the anonymous stage name, and presenting a style that is much more nuanced than generic pop, he allows his sound and lyrics to speak for themselves.

His album, although niche in genre, presents an exploration of a rather universal experience. He narrates the battle within to settle for what we already have. The theme is encapsulated in the album cover, which features the artist pouring water into an already plentiful and vast sea.

What distinguishes SOVL is his continuous pursuit to diversify not just genres but the very composition of albums in the novel Saudi music industry. Concept albums, which can tell a larger story than what could be contained in a single track, enhance the listeners’ experience of various notions.

SOVL is adamant about making and releasing music that is authenticated by genuine and soulful feelings, and his name serves as a reminder of that.

He said: “The album is super focused lyrically, on the theme, the sound, and some of the listeners criticized me on that point. Because it was my first album, (they believe) it should be a showcase of what you’re capable of, but on a broader aspect.

“With the Extended Edition, going forward, I’m going to broaden the sound, experiment a bit, but still with the same themes … It’s also to compel the story.”

While the writing and producing process is personal and self-centric, the product may not be everyone’s cup of tea, he said. Pop sensibility is not the artist’s goal, but he understands that broadening the scope of his work, even slightly, will create a more palatable experience for listeners to get into more psychedelic and grunge alternative rock.

“What I’m trying to do here is get people interested in different colors of music,” he said. “This is one that hasn’t been targeted yet here (in Saudi Arabia), but I’m really glad to try and start it.

“The scene here and the talents are still developing their musical identities … If you’re interested in music, just go for it. Once you start and find it’s really interesting, you’re maybe gifted, so try to invest more time on that,” he added.  

SOVL’s goal is to prove, not only to himself but also to his friends and aspiring musicians, that artists can take an indie approach and still achieve their dreams in the world of music.

His album is out now on all popular streaming platforms.

 

 


Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones

Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones
Updated 14 April 2024
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Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones

Saudi artist seeks to beat limitations and transcend comfort zones
  • Ali Alhammadi has been passionate about visual arts since childhood

JEDDAH: Ali Alhammadi, a Saudi 32-year-old visual artist from Aldawadmi in Riyadh, has carved out a remarkable pathway in the world of art since his professional debut in 2017.

Passionate about visual arts since childhood, Alhammadi’s artistic inspiration was ignited by the “Saudi renaissance” in line with Vision 2030, prompting him to embark on a creative expedition to express his perceptions through the canvas.

Alhammadi told Arab News that his art philosophy is about breaking invisible limitations and transcending comfort zones, drawing inspiration from the evergreen landscapes he encountered during camping trips with his father in the Riyadh desert.

Passionate about visual arts since childhood, Ali Alhammadi’s artistic inspiration was ignited by the ‘Saudi renaissance’ in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)

“During every spring season, me and my father used to go camping in the outskirts of Riyadh, when the desert turns green for a couple of months, where all the magical inspiration happens.”

Through his landscapes and abstract pieces, Alhammadi delves into his feelings, insecurities and aspirations, painting a narrative that speaks volumes.

“I use my art to express both happiness and sadness, and sometimes I start a painting with an idea in mind, but then I end up with a new one,” he said.

Ali Alhammadi, Saudi artist

One of Alhammadi’s pioneering techniques, “Invisible Limitations,” challenges traditional conceptions and societal norms, symbolizing the potential within, and beyond self-imposed boundaries. He said that his work reflects a realization that limitations are merely illusions.

“Our comfort zone sometimes restricts our ability to be inspired and inspire others. That’s why I decided to paint the Invisible Limitations theme.

“As I matured, I realized that most of these limitations don’t exist ... our limitation is the sky.”

Passionate about visual arts since childhood, Ali Alhammadi’s artistic inspiration was ignited by the ‘Saudi renaissance’ in line with Vision 2030. (Supplied)

Alhammadi’s artistic evolution has been influenced by his participation in prestigious exhibitions such as The Stars Exhibition at the German Embassy in Saudi Arabia and the second Riyadh Season Exhibition.

These platforms not only showcased his talent but also provided a catalyst for his creative development, empowering him to delve deeper into his cultural roots while embracing global influences.

Navigating between diverse cultural landscapes, Alhammadi, based between Liverpool and Riyadh, seamlessly fuses vibrant hues and styles, blending Saudi heritage and international artistic trends.

His experiences abroad have expanded his artistic horizons, inspiring him to create artworks that resonate with a global audience while retaining a distinctive Saudi essence. “Now that I have found my theme and art style, I believe that this phase will take me to different phases in my professional art career,” he said.

Looking toward the future, Alhammadi envisions his artwork evolving to explore the intricacies of human and cultural relationships, going deeper into themes that resonate with universal emotions and experiences. “Human and cultural relationships is something I’m keen on expressing through art,” he said.

His participation in international and local events such as the Founding Day in Liverpool and the National Day in London has not only spotlighted his talent but also enriched his artistic narrative with a tapestry of diverse influences.

For aspiring visual artists embarking on their creative odyssey, Alhammadi offers this advice: “Stay true to your vision, embrace your unique style, and let your art tell your story.”

 


Saint Levant addresses Gaza war on stage at Coachella music festival

Saint Levant addresses Gaza war on stage at Coachella music festival
Updated 16 April 2024
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Saint Levant addresses Gaza war on stage at Coachella music festival

Saint Levant addresses Gaza war on stage at Coachella music festival

DUBAI: Saint Levant, a Palestinian French Algerian Serbian rapper, performed at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival music festival in California on Saturday.

The musician used the opportunity to address the ongoing war in Gaza, saying: “Coachella, my name is Saint Levant and I was born in Jerusalem and raised in Gaza … as I hope all of you are aware, the people of Gaza have been undergoing a brutal, brutal genocide for the past six months. And the people of Palestine have been undergoing a brutal occupation for the past 75 years.”

Saint Levant performed a series of his hits, including “Nails,” “From Gaza, With Love” and a slowed-down version of “Very Few Friends.” The artist also performed “Deira” and “5am in Paris,” which was released last week.

“It’s about exile,” he said, describing the new song. “A feeling that us Palestinians know a bit too well.”

Born Marwan Abdelhamid in Jerusalem, the singer previously spoke to Arab News about his childhood.

“The actual cultural makeup is my mom is half-French and half-Algerian. My dad is Serbian, half-Palestinian. And they actually both grew up in Algeria. But they decided, in the early 90s, post the Oslo Accords, that Palestine was going to be free.

“So they went back, my dad went to live in Gaza in the early 1980s. And my dad actually built a hotel there and that’s where I grew up,” he said.

“For everyone, childhood is very meaningful. And for me, it was a juxtaposition because I remember the sound of the drones and the sounds of the bones. But more than anything, I remember the warmth, and the smell … and the taste of food and just the odd feeling of soil.”