Saudi artist Nada Halabi explores dreams through artwork

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Saudi artist Nada Halabi is exhibiting her Dreams Unveiled collection at Ahlam Gallery in Riyadh from June 4-15. (AN Photo/Rahaf Jambi)
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Saudi artist Nada Halabi is exhibiting her Dreams Unveiled collection at Ahlam Gallery in Riyadh from June 4-15. (AN Photo/Rahaf Jambi)
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Saudi artist Nada Halabi is exhibiting her Dreams Unveiled collection at Ahlam Gallery in Riyadh from June 4-15. (AN Photo/Rahaf Jambi)
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Saudi artist Nada Halabi is exhibiting her Dreams Unveiled collection at Ahlam Gallery in Riyadh from June 4-15. (AN Photo/Rahaf Jambi)
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Saudi artist Nada Halabi is exhibiting her Dreams Unveiled collection at Ahlam Gallery in Riyadh from June 4-15. (AN Photo/Rahaf Jambi)
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Saudi artist Nada Halabi is exhibiting her Dreams Unveiled collection at Ahlam Gallery in Riyadh from June 4-15. (AN Photo/Rahaf Jambi)
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Saudi artist Nada Halabi is exhibiting her Dreams Unveiled collection at Ahlam Gallery in Riyadh from June 4-15. (AN Photo/Rahaf Jambi)
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Updated 13 June 2024
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Saudi artist Nada Halabi explores dreams through artwork

  • Nada Halabi: I get a lot of inspiration from travel, so when I go to Europe, I love to visit old and contemporary museums to get ideas
  • Halabi: I lose myself while painting, and sometimes I paint something, then paint something over the top of it if I’m not content, until I’m happy with the end result

RIYADH: Contemporary Saudi artist, Nada Halabi, is exhibiting her “Dreams Unveiled” collection at Ahlam Gallery in Riyadh from June 4-15.  

“There’s a lot of dreams in these paintings,” Halabi told Arab News. “So, it’s like all the years accumulated with time and all my dreams, like sometimes I wake up at 5:00 a.m. and write down what I see, and when I wake up again, I paint.” 

Some of her works are inspired by the Renaissance era, a period of European cultural, artistic, political and economic “rebirth” after the Middle Ages.  

“I enjoy combining Renaissance art with a contemporary touch of flair, and I chose Renaissance characters because I believe their style at that era was exceptional, and they were the true artists, so I transformed some of them into contemporary art,” said Halabi, who enjoys experimenting with different styles, colors and sizes.  

Many things have influenced Halabi’s work as an artist. She enjoys traveling to different museums and finds inspiration in historic places and things. 

“I get a lot of inspiration from travel, so when I go to Europe, I love to visit old and contemporary museums to get ideas. Then, when I return to Saudi Arabia, I just paint nonstop because everything is so new on my mind,” she said. 

Halabi’s works reflect her time-consuming process.  

“I lose myself while painting, and sometimes I paint something, then paint something over the top of it if I’m not content, until I’m happy with the end result,” she said.  

The artist has clients of all ages. Some of her clients are art collectors, while others own museums.  

She studied fine art at the Academie Libanaise de Beaux Arts in Lebanon before relocating to London and then Los Angeles, where she received more guidance from a well-known American artist. She has trained at schools of art in the UK and the US, and exhibited her work in exhibitions and galleries in the Middle East.

In her current exhibition, there is a section dedicated to Lebanon — featuring newspapers and the neon words “Disconnected Roots.”

Halabi said: “I lived in Saudi Arabia longer than I did in Lebanon, even though I was born and raised there, and this artwork shows how many countries are connected yet at the same time are disconnected due to political conflicts.” 


Elyanna expands her world tour from North America to Europe

Updated 17 July 2024
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Elyanna expands her world tour from North America to Europe

  • Tour from Oct. 5 to Dec. 16 features 30 stops
  • Fans also want ‘Woledto’ concerts in Mideast

DUBAI: Chilean-Palestinian music sensation Elyanna is reportedly expanding her world tour “Woledto,” with new dates and locations in Europe.

The tour, from Oct. 5 to Dec. 16, will have 30 stops.

The 22-year-old artist announced on Instagram this week that presales will start on July 17, with general sales from July 19.

“THE WOLEDTO TOUR from North America to Europe! See you soon,” she wrote to her 1.5 million followers on Instagram.

Her fans quickly took to the comments section, requesting gigs in Lebanon, Dubai, Los Angeles, Australia, Barcelona, Lisbon, Milan and more.

Elyanna, who was the first artist to perform a full set in Arabic at California’s Coachella music festival in 2023, has been normalizing Arabic lyrics in the Western world.

She has been inspired by artists including Lana Del Ray and Beyonce, as well as Middle East legend Fayrouz.

The Los Angeles-based singer’s music is a mix of Arabic and Western beats, which she attributes to her multicultural upbringing. She is known for her songs “Ghareed Alay,” “Ala Bali,” “Ana Lahale,” “Mama Eh,” among others.

Elyanna dropped her debut album in April featuring nine songs: “Woledto,” “Ganeni,” “Calling U,” “Al Sham,” “Mama Eh,” “Kon Nafsak,” “Lel Ya Lel,” “Yabn El Eh” and “Sad in Pali.”

Before releasing the album, she wrote to her Instagram followers: “This album is the embodiment of pride to be an Arab woman, to be from Nazareth, to be from the Middle East.”

“This is the closest I’ve been to where I come from,” she added. “The only feature on my album is my grandfather.”

In May this year, she made her television debut on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”

The music sensation delivered a medley of hits from her debut album including “Callin’ U (Tamally Maak)” and “Mama Eh,” the first song performed entirely in Arabic on the show.


Zest for life: Disabled Saudi artist finds expression in his work

Rakan Kurdi’s paintings have won acclaim from across the country and abroad. (Supplied)
Updated 14 July 2024
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Zest for life: Disabled Saudi artist finds expression in his work

  • Saudi Rakan Kurdi will not let his genetic condition affect his desire to create

JEDDAH: Meet Rakan Kurdi, a Saudi artist who was born with spinal muscular atrophy and is determined to navigate life, and explore art, on his own terms.

Kurdi’s journey with paints and brushes began at a young age when he joined the Children with Disability Association, a specialized school for people with disabilities in Jeddah.

He is now one of the coastal city’s most popular artists, selling works and winning many prizes.

Rakan Kurdi’s portraits of Saudi royals has earned him viral recognition on social media. (Supplied)

A graphic designer and motivational speaker in addition to his art, Kurdi spoke to Arab News about his life.

An enthusiast from childhood, he was encouraged by his teacher’s words when she told him at the age of 8: “I can see an artist in you. You must work on your talent, learn more at home and keep practicing to develop your skills.”

Speaking about the challenges he faced in school, he said: “My parents decided to enroll me in a regular school in order to associate with regular kids. Unfortunately it did not work right for me because kids at school bullied me and were making fun of me all the time. That’s why I couldn’t pursue my studies.

I am an artist; that’s how I see myself. I don’t want people to like my paintings because of my physical condition.

Rakan Kurdi, Saudi artist

“My greatest strength and source of motivation through all this has been my parents. They never let me feel that I lacked anything.”

After leaving school after the fifth grade, Kurdi dedicated himself to his love for painting, eventually realizing that it was his true calling.

Working from his studio, Kurdi is well on his way to becoming a big name in the region’s art world. (Supplied)

Working from his studio, Kurdi is well on his way to becoming a big name in the region’s art world.

But creating artwork is no easy task for the 32-year-old, who was born with a neuromuscular genetic disorder that left him paralyzed.

However, it has not dampened his creativity. Kurdi has been painting since the age of 8, with his works being showcased in local group exhibitions.

Rakan Kurdi, Saudi artist

He said: “I am an artist; that’s how I see myself. I don’t want people to like my paintings because of my physical condition. I would like to know that my work is self-standing and impressive, regardless of the capabilities of its artist.”

Kurdi continues to live life with an ever-present smile, despite his challenges.

He added: “I have never thought my disability was an obstacle to my dream. Since I stopped going to school, I (have) just continued doing art, participated in various local exhibitions, started to sell my portraits nationally and internationally, and most importantly got married. I am so happy with my life.”

Portraits of King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the late King Faisal bin Abdulaziz, Sheikh Zayed, celebrated Saudi singer Mohammed Abdo, and the late Talal Maddah helped to get Kurdi noticed.

He admits that the biggest project of his career was creating 80 by 110 cm oil paintings of the king and crown prince. His subsequent post on social media received more than 1 million views in less than 19 hours.

He said: “Definitely they are my most expensive and most important portraits.

“I also dedicated a special portrait to Prince Turki bin Salman, who really liked my work and decided to hang it on the wall of the Royal Palace in Jeddah.”

Kurdi’s paintings have won acclaim from across the country and abroad, with commissions ranging from about SR10,000 ($2,666) to SR250,000, depending on the size of the work.

Inspired by the work of Leonardo da Vinci, he said: “We both belong to the same school of art.

“Despite my disability, it’s not difficult to make a realistic painting.”

Social media has proved an important tool to promote his work. He has about 500,000 followers across Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat, and says he receives his orders via the platforms.

With many projects in the pipeline, Kurdi’s hands are full.

He is also continuing his work as a motivational speaker, and added: “(I) just want to inspire everyone to identify and follow their dreams, no matter the obstacles.”

Now that his work has earned recognition in the Kingdom and other Gulf Cooperation Council states, Kurdi hopes to showcase his work in London or Paris.

“It is my dream to showcase my work internationally,” he said.

 

 


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.”
 


Bonjour Saudi presents fresh travel and culture experiences for tourists

Updated 11 July 2024
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Bonjour Saudi presents fresh travel and culture experiences for tourists

RIYADH: In the heart of Diriyah’s Samhan district is an old Najdi-style house that’s been given a new lease of life as Bonjour Saudi — a ‘travel and experience design house’ and a local offshoot of UAE-based Bonjour Middle East.

“At Bonjour Saudi we focus on being a bridge between foreigners, expats, tourists and Saudi culture by creating experiences that showcase different parts of that culture — like cuisine, art, and tradition,” French co-founder Cecilia Pueyo told Arab News. “It’s very important for me to work routinely with Saudis to make this happen.

Whether guests are signing up for a multi-day journey around historical sites or for a two-hour cooking or art workshop, though, the aim is the same: to leave them with a better understanding of Saudi culture and history. (AN Photo/ Abdulrhman Bin Shalhuob)

Pueyo is a crafting enthusiast herself, and noticed a gap in the market when she visited the Kingdom and found it hard to access workshops on traditional Saudi crafts such as Sadu weaving, palm weaving, or Kabsa cooking. So, she wanted to create a space for such workshops. It also includes House of Artisans — a store showcasing local handicrafts like candles, abayas, handbags, jewelry, and more, giving guests an opportunity to take a piece of Saudi home with them. 

And Bonjour Saudi also provides guided tours across the country to popular spots including Jeddah, Abha, and AlUla.

Whether guests are signing up for a multi-day journey around historical sites or for a two-hour cooking or art workshop, though, the aim is the same: to leave them with a better understanding of Saudi culture and history. 

In the heart of Diriyah’s Samhan district is an old Najdi-style house that’s been given a new lease of life as Bonjour Saudi. (AN Photo/ Abdulrhman Bin Shalhuob)

“Even though it’s relatively new for the Kingdom to welcome foreigners and expats, (it’s clear that) people want to showcase their culture and share it with you, as well as their hospitality and generosity,” Pueyo said.

“Now, we are in a very important moment and shift in Saudi,” she continued. “This is what I think Bonjour Saudi is about; how we want to make an impact on people. Even if they only have one hour, we can connect them with the right person to deliver a message about the country, about the culture — about their passion — and I hope the guests will understand his or her vision of the Kingdom.”


Immersed in lilies — ‘Imagine Monet’ brings art to life in Jeddah

Updated 09 July 2024
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Immersed in lilies — ‘Imagine Monet’ brings art to life in Jeddah

  • The tech-powered exhibition showcases more than 200 masterpieces

JEDDAH: Visitors have the chance to immerse in the ethereal artworks of Claude Monet as the “Imagine Monet” exhibition, created by renowned artists Annabelle Mauger and Julien Baron, debuts in Jeddah.

Part of the 2024 Jeddah Season 2024 until July 28, the exhibition is powered by large scale displays of the paintings of one of the foremost figures of the impressionist school of art.

The exhibition also features a dedicated section for children, designed to engage young visitors with a blend of fun and education. (Supplied)

“Imagine Monet” showcases more than 200 masterpieces and is organized into three distinct sections, each offering a deep dive into different aspects of Monet’s life and work.

The first section shines a spotlight on Monet himself, his family, garden, and the landscapes that inspired him. The second section is dedicated to his famous series, including “Haystacks,” “Rouen Cathedral,” and “Gare Saint-Lazare.” The exhibition ends in a breathtaking display of Monet’s garden in Giverny and his iconic “Water Lilies” series.

HIGHLIGHTS

• ‘Imagine Monet’ brings the artist’s masterpieces to life through the innovative use of 40 HD projectors and Image Totale technology.

• Developed by Albert Plecy and enhanced by Hans Walter Muller’s topo-projection, this technique allows Monet’s artworks to transcend their frames.

• The exhibition space is designed as a discovery room, offering 360-degree views on walls and floors to capture Monet’s artistic journey.

Abdullah bin Slaih, an educational guide at the exhibition, elaborated on Monet’s innovative use of light and nature in his work: “He loved to paint … he especially loved to paint nature as he saw it exactly. That’s why they call it Impressionism, because he impressions nature as it is right in front of him, spot on, without any single error.”

The exhibition also features a dedicated section for children, designed to engage young visitors with a blend of fun and education. (Supplied)

The exhibition showcases works from the 1872 “Impression, Sunrise” to the “Water Lilies” series painted between 1914 and 1926, Slaih noted. “Monet, with no assistance, was inspired very much by nature … the Japanese bridge, for example. He made different paintings of it. So, we can see it in variations, for example, where we can see the same scene but with different lighting effects.

“The water lilies from Japan fascinated him so much that he brought them back home to Giverny, France. He painted them in different variations, angles, and reflections of the sun and lighting. This exhibition allows us to see the same subjects in different settings, such as sunshine, sunset, and different seasons,” he explained.

The exhibition also features a dedicated section for children, designed to engage young visitors with a blend of fun and education. (Supplied)

The exhibition combines the authenticity of Monet’s art with the advancements of modern technology, providing an educational yet deeply engaging experience suitable for all ages.

Visitors to the “Imagine Monet” exhibition are invited to immerse themselves in a transformative experience where Monet’s masterpieces come to life through the innovative use of 40 HD projectors and Image Totale technology.

Part of the 2024 Jeddah Season, the exhibition is organized into three distinct sections, each offering a deep dive into different aspects of Monet’s life  and work. (Supplied/SPA)

Developed by Albert Plecy and enhanced by Hans Walter Muller’s topo-projection, this technique allows Monet’s artworks to transcend their frames, filling the exhibition space with high-definition projections. The exhibition space itself is designed as a discovery room, offering 360-degree views on walls and floors that provide a comprehensive perspective on Monet’s artistic journey.

Visitors can explore Monet’s works from various angles, engaging in an audio-visual experience that deepens their understanding of his artistry while following their own path through the art, discovering new details and connections at their own pace.

The exhibition also features a dedicated section for children, designed to engage young visitors with a blend of fun and education. This area includes a green grass maze where kids can explore and play, surrounded by art installations and plants that reflect Monet’s love for nature. Interactive activities, such as creating their own artworks inspired by Monet’s style, and Monet-themed storybooks that introduce them to the artist’s life and work, are also available for younger visitors.

Arwah Masoud, a local art enthusiast, said: “Walking through the ‘Imagine Monet’ exhibition felt like stepping into a dream. The immersive experience brings Monet’s masterpieces to life in a way I've never seen before. It's breathtaking to see the same scenes in different lights and seasons, and the music adds an emotional depth that truly transports you into Monet’s world.”

Mohammed Saud, visiting with his children, expressed: “This exhibition is ideal for all ages. My kids were fascinated by the vibrant colors and interactive elements. It’s more than just an art display; it’s an educational journey that deepened our appreciation of Monet’s genius.

“They especially enjoyed painting and creating artwork in the kids’ section, which allowed us to explore the space and discover new details in each painting. It’s a great way for parents to keep their children engaged while we enjoy the exhibition.”