Christie's stages first West African art exhibition in Dubai – Arab News
DUBAI: Dubai is sharing the art world’s delight in the thriving art scenes on the African continent with a new show opening on Sunday at Christie’s Dubai showroom that features prominent emerging and established painters from West Africa.
Entitled (West) African Renaissance and on until Dec. 14, the exhibition showcases the vibrantly colored works of several pioneers in what is frequently being dubbed a “renaissance” for modern and contemporary art from Africa and the African diaspora.

The exhibition features prominent emerging and established painters from West Africa. Supplied

The show is being staged by Gallery 1957, one of Ghana’s premier spaces for modern and contemporary art. On display are works by Ghanaian artists Gideon Appah, Kwesi Botchway, Joshua Oheneba Takyi, Lord Ohene Okyere Bour, Annan Affotey, Serge Attukwei Clottey, Isshaq Ismail Godfried Donkor, Arthur Timothy and Afia Prempeh, as well as works by Nigerian painters Oliver Okolo, Juwon Aderemi, and Peter Ojingiri.
“Our focus has always been to support the careers of West African artists, and to ensure they continue to reach new audiences on the global stage,” said Marwan Zakhem, founder of Gallery 1957.

The show is being staged by Gallery 1957, one of Ghana’s premier spaces for modern and contemporary art. Supplied

“We continue to provide opportunities for our artist to engage with different communities and be visible to a wider international audience,” Zakhem told Arab News. “While this is our fourth time showing our artists in Dubai, we feel there is now a growing appetite for works by African artists in the region.”

The show is titled (West) African Renaissance and is on until Dec. 14. Supplied

“Promoting this exhibition on the international stage is a key priority for us,” Michael Jeha, chairman of Christie’s Middle East said. “Following our collaboration with 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, partnering with Gallery 1957 to present this exciting exhibition featuring so many of the leading names from West Africa is a perfect extension of our recent initiatives.”

Teal Lady by Joshua Oheneba Takyi, 2021. Supplied

“Dubai is a hub to so many different nationalities and collectors from around the world, so bringing contemporary African art to the city seemed only natural as we look to continue to internationalize art from this region and to expose it to an even wider audience,” he said.
The present exhibition reveals the emphasis artists placed on portraiture and figurative abstraction — a growing trend over the past few years in works by many artists from the African continent, particularly from West Africa, as they focus on the people and symbols that make up their daily domestic, personal and public lives.
DUBAI: Diriyah Biennale Foundation will present Saudi Arabia’s first contemporary art biennale from Dec. 11 to March 11, 2022 in the JAX district of Diriyah, just outside of Riyadh.
In an interview with Arab News, the co-curator of the event Wejdan Reda said that the main goal for the biennale was to provide a platform for Saudi artists and “put them on par with international artists.”
The researcher said that the event aims to create a dialogue between local and international talents, “as well as provide a platform for Saudi viewers and Saudi audiences to view works from around the world but in their home country.”

A post shared by Diriyah Biennale Foundation (@biennale_sa)
“It is important to have this distinctive moment every year for the Saudi audiences to get exposed to various art from around the world,” Reda said.
The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale spans more than 25,000 square meters in the heart of the industrial Ad-Diriyaha area. 
Planning for the event began in 2019. The biennale was initially scheduled to take place in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed the organizers’ plans. 

A post shared by Diriyah Biennale Foundation (@biennale_sa)
“Shortly after we were assigned, in late 2019, the pandemic started to take place and pushed our plans. But I think it was actually beneficial as it gave us more time to think about the commissioned works and allow us to further reflect on the plans for the biennale,” Reda said. 
The event has been developed by a team of international curators led by Philip Tinari, director and chief executive of UCCA Center for Contemporary Art, China. Tinari is an American writer, critic, art curator and expert in Chinese contemporary art.
Reda said that working with Tinari was “amazing.”

A post shared by Diriyah Biennale Foundation (@biennale_sa)
“I learned a lot about Chinese art, and I was happy to share the knowledge that I have acquired over the past years about the local Saudi artists and their practices, and showcasing the cultural understandings that we have,” she said. 
“It was wonderful to have that cultural exchange and that dialogue throughout the past two years with him and the wider curatorial team.”
Among the participating artists is a strong selection of Chinese artists. “Considering that Philip is the director, and he has a long standing with a lot of the Chinese artists there, it was important to incorporate many of those artists in the show as it is also considered a new type of art in Saudi,” Reda said.  
The biennale will unfold in six sections, with works from national and international artists examining the theme “Feeling the Stones,” which is inspired by the phrase “crossing the river by feeling the stones” — an expression used around the world, Reda said. 

A post shared by Diriyah Biennale Foundation (@biennale_sa)
“(It) describes the change and the transformation, in specific to economic change, cultural change and social change, and therefore in a sense the biennale focusses on this idea of the aesthetic of change,” she said.
Last month the foundation announced the names of more than 60 artists from around the world who are set to showcase their work at the event. 
“In our search for regional, Saudi and international artists, we based our search on their practices of course (and) what could highlight some of the questions we are raising through the curatorial brief,” Reda said.   

A post shared by Diriyah Biennale Foundation (@biennale_sa)
The selected artists include Omar Abduljawad (Saudi Arabia, 1989), Sarah Abu Abdallah (Saudi Arabia, 1990), Hmoud Al Attawi (Saudi Arabia, 1986), Manal AlDowayan (Saudi Arabia, 1973), Fahad Al Hejailan (Saudi Arabia, 1957-2018) and Lulwah Al-Homoud (Saudi Arabia, 1967).
Reda is a Saudi contemporary art curator, researcher and the founder of Sahaba, a consultancy agency dedicated to supporting the art community through providing specialized curatorial and artistic consulting services.  
Over the past seven years she has worked on multiple exhibitions locally and internationally, including curating “Intimate Dimensions (2020),” a group exhibition exploring the notion of constructed spaces and existing built environments, and co-curating “Every Second in Between” (2018), a large-scale public art installation by artist Kyung Hwa Shon in White City, London. 
DUBAI: The inaugural Red Sea International Film Festival opened its box office on Monday for films that will screen at the event from Dec. 6-15.
The festival’s movies are divided into 11 sections: Competition, Short Film Competition, International Spectacular, Arab Spectacular, Festival Favorites, New Saudi/ New Cinema (Feature), New Saudi/ New Cinema (Shorts), Treasures, Next Generation, Immersive and Episodic.

A post shared by Red Sea Int. Film Festival (@redseafilm)
Films that will screen during the 10-day celebration of cinema include “Memory Box” by Beirut-born director duo Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, “Huda’s Salon” by Palestinian director Hany Abu-Assad, “Bara El Manhag” by award-winning Egyptian writer and director Amr Salama, and “Route 10” by Saudi filmmaker Omar Naim.
Guests can purchase their tickets here.
DUBAI: A cavalcade of social media influencers and fashionistas descended upon AlUla on Sunday to celebrate the launch of Dior Beauty’s Sauvage scent, including Mahmoud Sidani, more commonly known to his legion of followers as “Mr. Moudz,” Emirati twins Mohammed and Humaid Hadban, Mohamed Al-Habtoor, Saudi designer Mohammed Khoja and actor Rawkan Binbella, among others.
A post shared by Mahmoud (@mrmoudz)
The influencer-filled bash was staged outdoors against the backdrop of AlUla’s stunning cliffs and mountains, with “Dior” projected onto the landmark’s famous Elephant Rock.
Guests were treated to a dinner followed by a live performance from UAE-based blues singer Jay Abo, who wowed the audience with his mesmerizing vocals and guitar solos.
The scene immediately evoked the image of Dior brand ambassador Johnny Depp playing an electric guitar in the middle of the desert in the Sauvage ad campaign, which came out this summer.
“I really feel so grateful being here,” Sidani told his 215,000 Instagram followers. “The sights we saw today left me speechless… I didn’t realize how much I missed traveling before this trip. Seeing new places, meeting new faces, hearing their stories — and sharing some of my own.”
A post shared by Faisal Alghazzawi (@falghazzawi)
The new scent, conceived by master perfumer Francois Demachy, was inspired “by the desert in the magical hour of twilight,” so it only makes sense for the Parisian label to stage the event at AlUla.
Indeed, the UNESCO World Heritage Site has become a hotspot for fashion houses.
Last year, Mônot creative designer Lebanese Eli Mizrahi produced a campaign in the historic site featuring supermodels Kate Moss, Mariacarla Boscono, Candice Swanepoel, Jourdan Dunn, Amber Valletta, Xiao Wen and Alek Wek.
Meanwhile, Piaget’s Ramadan campaign for their latest Possession collection was partly filmed in AlUla.
CHICAGO: A finalist for the 2021 National Book Award for Translated Literature, journalist and novelist Samar Yazbek’s “Planet of Clay” is a first-person account of Rima Salem Al-Mahdawy who is living through the Syrian war.
Born and raised in Damascus, Rima cannot speak but has an innate instinct to walk. For her own safety, however, she is always tied to a person or object. When the landscape around Syria begins to changes, with new checkpoints, anti- and pro-government protests in the streets, and a siege, her constraints become a danger to her and those around her. The world is large and confusing, the people she loves: Her mother, brother, and Sitt Souad, are few in number and they keep disappearing. Translated into English by Leri Price, Rima’s story is one of coping, of fantasy, and of miscommunications.
Readers meet Rima as she writes a diary of her life in a cellar. She remembers her past with her mother and brother in Damascus all the way to Douma. She has always been different and people confuse her for being mentally unstable instead of trying to understand her. Just like “The Little Prince,” Rima’s has fragmented her life into secret worlds: Her house in the Jaramana Camp in southern Damascus, the school library where Sitt Souad teaches her everything she knows, the house between Zamalka and Ghouta with her brother Saad, and Douma with Hassan. 
Rima’s account is overwhelmingly isolated, an impending doom hovers overhead like the planes and the bombs that they drop. Rima writes to drown out the sounds of war, dealing with trauma in the midst of it. There is a feeling of the temporary and transient, as if life will vanish and the story will end at any moment, even before the reader can understand what is happening, even before the narrator knows the end. Yazbek gives a hauntingly realistic account of life being preserved by paper, to be witnessed instead of lived.
The things Rima sees, the violence of war and desperation, the siege, the anti-governmental protests her brother frequents and her mother cries about, the adults who are tried for treason and the children caught in the aftermath, are all a mystery to her. Here, children are forced to grow up fast and run from death. To remember her past, she must relive her trauma that is embedded in the people and places she loves. Dealing with themes that are close to the author’s heart, Yazbek brilliantly weaves a story about freedom and of heartbreak during wartime.
DUBAI: Since its inauguration in 1999, Dubai’s most supreme hotel, Burj Al Arab, has been home to luxury, comfort, and now, contemporary art. Thanks to a six-month collaboration with Galleria Continua — representing the likes of Ai Weiwei, Michelangelo Pistoletto, JR, among others — a new, white cube-like art space has opened, for the first time in the history of the hotel, for guests to visit. The idea was initiated by Burj Al Arab’s general manager, Ermanno Zanini, aiming to enrich guests’ stay with art. 
The gallery, which originally opened in the Tuscan town of San Gimignano in 1990 and has since expanded to Beijing, Havana and Paris, is displaying in its Dubai pop-up edition seven rare and sculptural works by the acclaimed British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor. Internationally, some of Kapoor’s most recognizable public projects include Chicago’s kidney bean-shaped sculpture and the Orbit tower of London’s Olympic Park.
In Dubai, Kapoor’s displayed minimalist work includes large discs, mirrored steel globes and alabaster sculptures, experimenting with light, color, materiality and form. As seen at the press preview, his work invited curiosity from visitors, reflected in some of the artworks. There is, according to Galleria Continua’s co-founder Lorenzo Fiaschi, something “universal” about his art. “Anish has this quality of being a rhythm teller,” he told Arab News. “So, it’s really easy to touch the soul of all culture, starting from India to the Middle East and Latin America.”
Overlooking the ocean, the art space at Burj Al Arab is simple and chic, flooded with natural light. “It was difficult for me to leave the space,” said Fiaschi. “I see myself in a temple of light. I feel really comfortable. It is peaceful. It was a big emotion and a personal experience that I didn’t expect, honestly.” He regards this Emirati pop-up as a manifestation of the gallery’s ethos of continuous learning and building bridges globally through art.
A longtime participant of the UAE’s art fairs, Fiaschi and his team aspire to one day establish a permanent gallery in the country. Until then, this temporary exhibition is on view until the end of January of 2022 and will be accessible, through reservation, for art enthusiasts and professionals.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *