Art exhibition displays senses and spirituality during Ramadan

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Art has taken over the luxury fashion mall Centria this Ramadan as it showcased works from 33 artists in the Kingdom’s capital.  (AN photo)
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Updated 05 April 2024
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Art exhibition displays senses and spirituality during Ramadan

  • Exhibition provided a platform to show the true values of the holy month and the culture surrounding it

RIYADH: Art took over the luxury fashion mall Centria this Ramadan with a display of works from 33 artists in the Kingdom’s capital.  

Curated by Saudi designer Amar Alamdar under the theme “Senses and Spirituality,” the exhibition provided a platform to show the true values of the holy month and the culture surrounding it from the perspectives of the featured artists.   

In line with the concept of charity, one of the pillars of Islam, proceeds from the exhibition’s silent auction will be donated to the Ekhaa Charitable Foundation for Orphan Care.  

Visual artist Meshal bin Diran is driven by a passion to discover the mysteries of color and composition, articulating it as a means of communicating. Brushes, paint and pen are merely tools to immortalize his emotions. His work edges on abstract surrealist art devoid of clear elements with a unique mix of color and composition.  




Visual artist Meshal bin Diran is driven by a passion to discover the mysteries of color and composition, articulating it as a means of communicating. (Arab News photo)

“Spirituality is derived from culture, whether that’s religion or ancient rituals or otherwise, so that’s difficult to target … I went back to the definition of spirituality that I resonate with, which is prayer and all its elements of reverence, serenity, concentration and cleanliness. It’s very integrated as a spiritual environment,” he told Arab News.   

His painting features soft but bright pastel colors in an almost whimsical interpretation. Set in the hub of the spiritual act, the mosque, the work features elements such as the entrance to the masjid, hearts hanging from the arches, and prayer beads reminiscent of the ones he carries around himself.  

The identical beads circularly lead the way into the entrance, signifying that any one of them could be one of us, or in turn, an imam. The element also highlights the lack of division in the Islamic religion.  

The style is rooted in movement, causing the content of the work to seem as if it is floating.  

“Spirituality is subjective to every person, so all the pages in the painting’s book are blank. It’s an idea that we believe in and pass down to generations,” he said.  




Self-taught artist Salama Hassan used characteristics of Chinese typography to shape various verses in the Qur’an to prompt the audience to contemplate the language and verses at hand. (AN photo)

Salama Hassan, a self-taught artist who specializes in the fine arts, pushes the boundaries of Arabic calligraphy to the point where her work transcends a mere font and becomes conceptual.    

Using Chinese typography characteristics to shape various verses in the Qur’an, Hassan prompts the audience to contemplate the language and verses at hand. The artwork becomes a puzzle, demanding us to look deeper into the meaning and placement of each letter. 

Hassan told Arab News previously: “I’m a fan of Arabic calligraphy … I decided to venture out of the box. I love Eastern cultures like Japanese and Chinese and their calligraphy, as well as Arabic. I wanted to prove that the Arabic letter is valid in any time and space. I’m trying to create more awareness around it.” 

She traced the Qur’anic verses vertically, with each line holding one or two letters, leading the viewer to enunciate each letter and word. The method of language bridging provides an insightful opportunity for cultural exchange.  




Digital artist Muhammed Wahas’ work shows a woman in desperation, as two crows sit atop her head. (AN photo)

The exhibition featured immersive works that allowed visitors to interact through their own phone screens using an app. The work of digital artist Mohammed Wahas shows an anguished woman with two crows perched on her head. One is silent and the other is screaming to express the mental instability caused by excessive thinking. As the viewer moves their lens to the painting, the two birds come alive, floating between serenity and despair.   

Artist Sarah Al-Alshaikh’s work “Peace of Mind” animates a faceless woman with her rosary to tell a much larger story. The piece was inspired by the Rumi quote: “You presume you are a small entity, but within you is enfolded the entire Universe.” 




Artist Sarah Al-Alshaikh’s work “Peace of Mind” is inspired by the Rumi quote: “You presume you are a small entity, but within you is enfolded the entire Universe.” (AN photo)

Hams Muryh used her Asiri roots as points of inspiration. Her work documents traditional southern crafts by incorporating Al-Haseer, a traditional hand-weaving technique using date palm leaves, and Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, a style of Saudi art that is usually painted by women in the southern region of the Kingdom, which she acquired from her grandmother.   

The two works on display, “Kiswa” and “Intima,” set out to encapsulate the authenticity of Saudi heritage and the depth of its culture.  

She told Arab News: “I was keen to display these two works with different materials, from the fineness of the paper to the roughness of the mats. However, the art of Al-Qatt Al-Asiri reflects both the intangible and material impact on the people of the Asir region, and how they can celebrate the renewal and decoration of walls before Eids and celebratory occasions in a distinct, modern style that reflects the artistry that’s rooted within them.”  




Artist Amal Alem featured 8 paintings of the old prayer rug that was present in all Muslim homes worldwide. (AN photo)

Artist Amal Alem featured eight paintings of prayer rugs, which are present in all Muslim homes around the globe, accompanied by the rosary that accompanies the worshippers throughout their prayers. The prayer mat has become a symbol that reminds people of the universality of Islam.   

Alamdar said: “These rugs are our elders’ and the younger generations aren’t aware of it, but we can relay our spirituality and these ideas through art.”  

The exhibition, which ended on the 24th day of Ramadan, featured numerous works interpreting the notion of spirituality. 

 


Liverpool Arab Arts Festival’s return showcases entertaining agenda

Updated 14 July 2024
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Liverpool Arab Arts Festival’s return showcases entertaining agenda

  • Vibrant mix of art, theater, music, literature, workshops

LONDON: The Liverpool Arab Arts Festival, the UK’s longest-running festival celebrating Arab arts and culture, runs until July 21 and showcases a vibrant mix of art, theater, music, literature, and workshops.

Founded in 1998, the festival has become a cornerstone of Liverpool’s cultural calendar.

This year’s program features a diverse lineup of artists from Egypt, Morocco, Lebanon, Tunisia, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, offering a dynamic interplay between traditional and contemporary Arab art forms.

Laura Brown, creative producer of the festival, told Arab News: “Artists are dealing with contemporary ideas and art forms, but often the conversations and themes they are tapping into are something Arab communities have been talking about for generations, like migration, identity and conflict.”

One of the highlights will be the festival’s tribute to Palestine. A special screening of “At Home in Gaza and London” will be held on Monday, with ticket proceeds benefiting collaborators in Gaza.

“Oranges and Stones,” a wordless play told through physical action and music, on Thursday will depict 75 years of occupation and settlement in Palestine. Marina Barham, general director of Al-Harah Theater in Bethlehem, will also speak about the therapeutic role of theater in addressing community trauma.

Port city Liverpool has fostered diverse and multicultural communities, with Arabic reportedly being the city’s second most-spoken language.

Brown said: “What’s really important to us is that we work with the community to ensure everyone feels represented. We talk to the community about artists they like and who they want to see, to bring them over. It was a conversation with members of the Somali community that introduced us to Aar Maanta.”

As an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organization, the festival is part of the 2023-26 investment program.

Brown added: “Being an NPO is something the whole team is incredibly proud of and it is something we take very seriously.

“The arts landscape is very challenging and the ability to be able to know your festival is secured for several years in advance allows you to build relationships with venues and creatives to develop programs and projects further.”
 


Review: Nicolas Cage-starring horror-mystery ‘Longlegs’ falls flat

Updated 14 July 2024
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Review: Nicolas Cage-starring horror-mystery ‘Longlegs’ falls flat

CHENNAI: If one were to walk into a theater to watch “Longlegs” in the hopes of finding something even remotely novel or different from the dozens of horror films that have played in cinemas over the years, disappointment awaits.

Set to be released in Saudi cinemas on July 18, the film is set in 1990s Oregon where mist and fog creep across a deserted, snow-covered landscape. Despite the sometimes eerie set, the movie does not manage to create a sense of sheer terror. Writer-director Osgood Perkins’ work appears clumsy, relying mostly on mood and atmosphere rather than on a substantial core as it follows FBI agent Lee Harker (Maika Monroe) on the trail of a notorious serial killer, played by Nicolas Cage.

Cage is completely hidden under a heavy disguise, with his expressions impossible to fathom, which is a pity because love him or hate him, he is an emotive performer.

Leaving behind coded notes signed as Longlegs — notes that Harker manages to crack as she tries to capture him — the devil on the prowl convinces fathers to murder their wives and children and then commit suicide. Dozens of families are wiped out, but the case itself is a mystery with details that do not add up to a believable whole.

Perkins has a penchant for style over substance — it’s a calling card that has marked his career, beginning with his 2015 debut “The Blackcoat's Daughter.” The director seems to lose his grip over the narrative and lets it sink into nonsensical oblivion. The dialogue is clumsy and the plot is peppered with plot holes.

If there is one plus point in the entire 101 minutes it is Monroe, who rises above a shoddily written part to convince audiences that she can offer a semblance of excellence in a story that seems to go nowhere.

 


Rita Ora paints the town red in Elie Saab look at Disney premiere

Updated 14 July 2024
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Rita Ora paints the town red in Elie Saab look at Disney premiere

DUBAI: British singer and actress Rita Ora attended the premiere of Disney’s “Descendants: The Rise Of Red” in California wearing an on theme scarlet gown by Lebanese couturier Elie Saab.

Featuring draped material on the bodice and a thigh-high slit, the look hailed from Saab’s Autumn/Winter 2010 Haute Couture collection.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by ELIE SAAB (@eliesaabworld)

The musical fantasy film follows Red, daughter of the Queen of Hearts, and Chloe, daughter of Cinderella, as they team up to save their home by traveling back in time to stop an event that would cause grave consequences.

Directed by Jennifer Phang, the cast includes Brandy, Rita Ora, Kylie Cantrall, Malia Baker, China Anne McClain, Jeremy Swift, Dara Reneé, Ruby Rose Turner, Morgan Dudley, Paolo Montalban, Melanie Paxson and Leonardo Nam.

Ora and Brandy, both pop singers, star together in the fourth installment of the “Descendants” movie franchise about the children of iconic Disney characters. They both play the mothers to the two main characters.

 “I Will Never Let You Down” hitmaker Ora plays the role of the Queen of Hearts and Brandy reprises her role from 1997’s “Cinderella” to play Cinderella.

“Oh my gosh, it's crazy — I did a movie with Brandy!” Ora told Entertainment Tonight ahead of the release of the film.

“I mean, I love her so much. I loved her music growing up. She was one of the vocalists that I would try and imitate every day in my bedroom. And watching her ‘Cinderella’ with Whitney Houston was so iconic for so many reasons. It made me believe in myself — like, 'Oh my goodness, I can do this too,’” Ora added, referring to superstar Whitney Houston who played Cinderella’s Fairy Godmother in the 1997 film.

Meanwhile, Elie Saab has been in the spotlight this weekend, with British actress Daisy Ridley showing off an understated look by the designer while presenting at the 2024 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles on Thursday.

The ESPY Awards, the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly, is an event honoring the top athletes and sport performances of the year.

Ridley wore a sleeveless cobalt-blue gown from Lebanese designer Elie Saab. The actress had her hair pulled back into a tight bun as she accessorized the look with blue gem earrings. She completed the ensemble with black heels.


‘This has been a journey for me,’ Kevin Costner says of passion project

Updated 13 July 2024
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‘This has been a journey for me,’ Kevin Costner says of passion project

LOS ANGELES: Oscar-winner Kevin Costner brought his passion project "Horizon: An American Saga" to the big screen this summer. A labor of love since 1988, Costner wrote, produced, financed, starred in, and directed the film.

His dedication paid off at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received an 11-minute standing ovation. Despite a lukewarm international box office take, the second part of the saga is on the horizon and will be released at an unspecified date.

“This has been a journey for me and for the people to stand and clap and not stop. And I basically shut out the noise for a while and walked my life backwards and thought about my journey professionally and the journey for ‘Horizon.’ And I was just really grateful at the end of the day that I stayed true to it,” Costner said of the lengthy standing ovation at Cannes.

Costner tells a Western story and focuses on the experiences of Indigenous Americans during colonization. The film meticulously explores a 12-year span during which white settlers encroached upon indigenous lands. With a diverse cast, the narrative offers a rich tapestry of perspectives on exploring new frontiers.

“We're just playing dress ups and telling a story version. But, you know, the frontier was actually founded on people taking wagon trains across through these uncharted territory. So you really get a bit of empathy towards what actually happened,” actor Sam Worthington said.

"Horizon: An American Saga" takes its time to set the tone for an engaging journey into a pivotal era of American history, told with passion and precision. Despite its three-hour runtime and slow pace, British actress Sienna Miller says she enjoyed the process. 

“I realized there were a lot of characters and there were long scenes and people had long monologues. But I like that,” Miller said.

“It was a massive, epic ... sized film to be doing. It’s like hundreds of actors and cattle everywhere, and we're in the elements. But then as an actor, he just slides into the scene. He's got this deep relaxation about the way that he works,” actress Abbey Lee said, with co-star Isabelle Fuhrman adding: “He knows this story backwards and forwards. I mean, it's been long enough for him to finally be on set doing this.”


Daisy Ridley takes a chic turn in Elie Saab

Updated 13 July 2024
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Daisy Ridley takes a chic turn in Elie Saab

DUBAI: British actress Daisy Ridley stunned in an elegant Elie Saab look while presenting at the 2024 ESPY Awards in Los Angeles on Thursday.

The ESPY Awards, the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly, is an event honoring the top athletes and sport performances of the year.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Daisy Ridley (@daisyridley)

The 32-year-old “Star Wars” actress skipped the red carpet at the ceremony, held at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.

She did take the stage, though, to present an award with Buffalo Bills player, Damar Hamlin, during the telecast.

Ridley wore a sleeveless cobalt-blue gown from Lebanese designer Elie Saab. The actress had her hair pulled back into a tight bun as she accessorized the look with blue gem earrings. She completed the ensemble with black heels.

In an interview with Reuters last month, Ridley talked about reprising her role as Jedi hero, Rey, and said that it feels “exciting and nerve-racking” as she returns to the “Star Wars” franchise for a new film.

Walt Disney Co, which purchased Star Wars producer Lucasfilm in 2012 and released three movies starring Ridley from 2015 to 2019 as well as a different TV series, announced new plans for the franchise last year.

“I’m very excited, it feels like a new adventure,” Ridley told Reuters at the London premiere of another Disney film, “Young Woman and the Sea.”

“It’s a world that I’m familiar with, I’m coming back to, but also it feels like a new start. So, it feels exciting and nerve-racking and I’m excited.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Daisy Ridley (@daisyridley)

In “Young Woman and the Sea” Ridley plays American swimmer Gertrude Trudy Ederle, an Olympic gold medalist who became the first woman to swim the English Channel.

In 1926, Ederle set off from northern France for the southern English coast, making the crossing in 14 hours, 31 minutes, and beating the men’s world record by one hour and 59 minutes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Daisy Ridley (@daisyridley)

Despite a huge celebratory parade in New York on her return, Ederle’s name and accomplishments are not as well known to the public as those of other sports figures. Ederle died in 2003.

“Playing someone who is determined and resilient ... who has a real joy for what they’re doing, is wonderful,” Ridley said, adding that she had undergone a “pretty gruelling” swimming training schedule for the role.