THE BULLETIN 2024

The Bulletin bringing you the latest highlights in the art world

June 2024

Fundraising Campaign by the Institute du Monde Arabe and Concert for Artists in Gaza

Under the patronage of the Institute du Monde Arab and the Marseille based association Art-cade Galerie des Grands Bains-Douches a fundraising event has been launched in March titled “Together for Artists in Gaza at Risk” . This fundraising campaign aims to support 20 artists by bringing them to France. More recently second initiative has been announced to support the cause, a fundraising concert ‘For the Artist’s of Gaza’, scheduled in Paris on June 26. The fundraising concert will be held in the intimate exhibition space of Point Ephémère, 200, quai de Valmy, Paris 10th. The featured artists include Sama’ Abdulhadi, Union Collective, and DJs Darbak, Ya z an and Ya Hu.

Inauguration of Beirut Art Days: Celebrating Lebanon’s Cultural Resilience

Despite ongoing crises over the past five years, Lebanon’s art and culture scene remains active. The inaugural Beirut Art Days will take place from July 3 to July 6, 2024, spanning the entire country. Galleries, museums, theatres, and cultural venues will offer diverse experiences, including exhibitions, performances, screenings, private collections, lectures, concerts, debates, art tours, and artist talks. With 90 galleries, 110 cultural venues, and 102 museums, Lebanon produces nearly 2,000 events annually. Over 60 art and culture players and 90 locations will participate in Beirut Art Days, showcasing the nation’s vibrant creativity. Beirut Art Days offers free access, inviting everyone to explore and discover new artistic experiences. This event allows art lovers, collectors, professionals, citizens, and tourists to explore Beirut and Lebanon from a fresh perspective.

Qatar Museums and Venice Sign Five-Year Cultural Cooperation Agreement

From left to right: Mohammed Al Rumaihi, CEO of Qatar Museums; Morris Ceron, Director General and Chief of Cabinet of the Municipality of Venice; H.E. Sheikha Al Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani, Chairperson of Qatar Museums; Luigi Brugnaro, Mayor of the Municipality of Venice; H.E. Khalid bin Youssef Al Sada, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to the Italian Republic; and Badr Mohammed Al Meer, CEO of Qatar Airways at Ca’ Farsetti in Venice, Italy on 7 June 2024. Image courtesy of Qatar Museums

Qatar Museums and the Municipality of Venice have signed a Protocol of Cooperation to strengthen their cultural and socio-economic ties. This agreement coincides with Qatar Airways resuming direct flights between Doha and Venice on 12 June, and the opening of the Art for Tomorrow conference. The collaboration aims to enhance cultural heritage, knowledge exchange, and business investment in art, preservation, sport, and entertainment. Activities may include exhibitions on Italian-Islamic art, international festival participation, scholarly collaborations, and heritage conservation projects. The protocol, valid until 2029, builds on previous successes, such as exhibitions at the Venice Biennale. Details of future initiatives will be announced.

Fahad Al Obaidly Joins Jury for Arab World Design Award 2024

Fahad Al Obaidly, Deputy Director of Design Doha, will join the jury for the Arab World Design Award 2024, which aims to spotlight emerging and established Arab designers, showcasing innovation and new materials. Design Doha, a Qatar Museums biennial, seeks to elevate MENA design culture and highlight Qatar’s design scene globally. The inaugural edition in February featured exhibitions, events, and programs, attracting international design leaders and enthusiasts. Al Obaidly, a creative strategist with over a decade’s experience, is pivotal in Qatar’s creative sector. He stated, “It’s a privilege to spotlight MENA designers and celebrate emerging talent.” Entries are open until 7 July 2024, with winners announced at Paris Design Week.

ICD Brookfield Place Announces Souq Tasmeem Open Call

ICD Brookfield Place announces Souq Tasmeem, a vibrant market showcasing young designers, makers, and creatives. Taking place from Thursday, 27 June to Saturday, 29 June 2024, this event offers a platform for local artisans to display handcrafted designs, zines, posters, and more. Souq Tasmeem extends the annual Tasmeem graphic design and poster show, enhancing the dialogue around graphic design. This year’s theme, Memory Box, curated by Emirati designer Wafa Al Falahi, explores cultural heritage through folklore, music, and games. Submissions are open until 14 June 2024, for categories including print materials, stationery, and artisanal items.

Tashkeel and Salt Unveil UAE Artists’ Posters at SALT’s New Marsa Al Arab Restaurant

Tashkeel and SALT unveiled a collection of designs by the UAE’s visual artists at a special event in Dubai. Selected from a nationwide open call, 20 posters are now displayed at SALT’s Marsa Al Arab restaurant in the Jumeirah Marsa Al Arab Hotel. The open call, launched in partnership with Tashkeel, sought captivating designs that matched SALT’s vibrant atmosphere. The winners were chosen for their visual flair and creativity. Tashkeel’s Karam Hoar praised the collaboration, highlighting the quality and creativity of the submissions and the ongoing display’s contribution to the local art scene.

The Boghossian Foundation Launches New International Art Prize

@ Fondation Boghossian
@ Fondation Boghossian

The Boghossian Foundation has launched a new international prize to celebrate artists promoting intercultural dialogue, reflecting its mission to bridge East and West through the arts. The prize, with no age limit, will honour three winners annually in visual arts, design and crafts, and jewellery. Chaired by Jean and Albert Boghossian, the international jury seeks works that foster mutual cultural understanding. The Visual Arts Prize will highlight pieces inspired by cultural dialogue, the Design and Crafts Prize will emphasise traditional Eastern craftsmanship, and the Jewelry Prize will explore modern jewellery inspired by global heritage. The prize includes € 12,000 and an artist residency. Applications open on the 15th of June.

Sharjah Art Foundation Announces Seventh Edition of Sharjah Film Platform Short Film Production Grant

SFP5 Short Film Production Grant awardee Ali Mehdi on the set of In Zainab’s Heaven (2023). Image courtesy of Ali Mehd
SFP5 Short Film Production Grant awardee Ali Mehdi on the set of In Zainab’s Heaven (2023). Image courtesy of Ali Mehd

Sharjah Art Foundation invites filmmakers to apply for the seventh Sharjah Film Platform (SFP) Short Film Production Grant. This grant, part of the SFP festival, supports short films pushing contemporary filmmaking boundaries. Films will premiere at a future SFP edition. Open to independent filmmakers globally, the grant covers short films up to 50 minutes. The total fund is 120,000 AED, with amounts and awardees based on need. Apply by 24 June 2024. New this year, an Emirati filmmaker will receive 25,000 AED through a partnership with ADMAF. Applicants must submit a three-minute pitch outlining their film’s vision and originality.

Sharjah Art Foundation Opens Call for 12th Vantage Point Sharjah Photography Exhibition

TAJAROB: All that chance has given me by Aya Chikri
TAJAROB: All that chance has given me by Aya Chikri

Sharjah Art Foundation announces the 12th annual Vantage Point Sharjah (VPS) photography exhibition, themed ‘If I Were Another’, inspired by Mahmoud Darwish’s poem. This theme invites photographers to explore diverse identities and histories. Emerging photographers worldwide can apply, submitting portfolios aligned with the theme. Five artists will be selected for a group exhibition at Bait Obaid Al Shamsi from 28 September to 8 December 2024. Selected artists will receive funding, professional support, and mentorship. The deadline is on 24 June 2024.

Sharjah Art Foundation Invites Submissions for Corniche 6 Comic Anthology

Corniche 4 Meet Up, Community Outreach Programme, Sharjah, 2022.
Corniche 4 Meet Up, Community Outreach Programme, Sharjah, 2022.

Sharjah Art Foundation invites illustrators and comic artists from the GCC to submit pitches for a six-page comic for Corniche, an annual anthology. This publication embraces various genres like biography, sci-fi, fantasy, mythology, and art history. Selected artists will join a three-day creative exchange in Sharjah, with their works published in the anthology. Originating from a 2019 workshop, Corniche fosters local talent and community. Corniche 6 will debut at Focal Point 2024, the Foundation’s art book fair, from 22–24 November. Apply by 30 June 2024.

Qatar Museums Invites GCC Artists for Public Art Open Calls

Qatar Museums’ Annual Intervention open call invites GCC artists to propose site-specific or community-specific public artworks, a concept known as placemaking. Placemaking aims to create environments that enhance community life, fostering a sense of belonging and identity. It transforms ordinary public spaces into vibrant, welcoming areas that encourage social interaction, cultural expression, and engagement. This opportunity is open to mid-career artists residing in the GCC with strong execution skills. Proposals must be fabricated locally and engage the community. Notable past commissions include “Shelters” by Marco Bruno and Michael Perrone, and “Dar Al Tayor” by Bachir Mohamad. The deadline for the submission is 15 July 2024.

Qatar Museums: Call for GCC Artists and Students for Public Art Initiatives

Qatar Museums invites GCC artists to participate in public art open calls, including the Temporary Initiative, which encourages students and alumni to propose temporary public artworks showcasing their creativity. Selected artists will be commissioned to create their proposals, which must meet specific criteria: proposals must meet the checklist, be fabricated locally, and can include sculptures, installations, mosaic tiles, and mixed media. Eligible artists must be over 18 or recent graduates (within the last two years), residing in Qatar with valid permits. The artwork will be installed at Liwan Design Studios and Labs, with a budget of up to 30,000 QAR, and artists will collaborate with a curator. The deadline for the submission is 15 July 2024.

May 2024

Athr Gallery and teamLab collaborate to debut in the Middle East

Flowers People ‐ A Whole Year per Hour

Athr Gallery, renowned for contemporary art, partners with the Japanese art collective teamLab, marking eight years of collaboration. Athr announces a new venture with teamLab, debuting in the Middle East with the teamLab Borderless museum. Athr will exhibit teamLab’s digital artworks at Beit Zenel in Jeddah’s AlBalad district. This curated selection features poetic and expressive works inspired by Japanese literary arts, distinct from the teamLab Borderless offerings. This partnership will highlight the cultural parallels between Arab and Japanese poetry. The exhibition opens in early June, coinciding with teamLab Borderless’s unveiling, offering free admission and shuttle service between venues.

Open Calls Announced for Sharjah Art Foundation’s Annual Programs in Film, Photography, and Comics

Image courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation
Image courtesy of Sharjah Art Foundation.

Sharjah Art Foundation has announced open calls for three of its annual programs: film, photography, and comic publication, supporting artists and art practitioners in the UAE, region, and beyond.

Sharjah Film Platform 7 Short Film Production Grant: Open to all independent filmmakers, this grant supports the completion of short films under 50 minutes. A total of 120,000 AED will be distributed among recipients, with an additional 25,000 AED for one Emirati filmmaker through a partnership with the Abu Dhabi Music and Arts Foundation. The deadline is 24 June 2024.

Vantage Point Sharjah 12: Photographers of all genres can apply for this year’s theme, “If I Were Another,” inspired by Mahmoud Darwish’s poem. Applicants must submit a portfolio by 24 June 2024. Five selected artists will exhibit their work from 28 September to 8 December 2024, receiving production funding and professional support.

Corniche 6: GCC-based illustrators and comic artists can pitch a six-page comic for publication. The deadline for pitches is 30 June 2024. Selected artists will join a three-day creative exchange, and their work will be published in an anthology launched at the Focal Point art book fair in November 2024.

Jameel Prize 7 finalists announced

Alia Farid.

The finalists for the seventh Jameel Prize have been announced, the V&A’s award celebrating contemporary art inspired by Islamic culture, history, and ideas. This edition focuses on moving images and digital media. The finalists include Sadik Kwaish Alfraji, Jawa El Khash, Alia Farid, Ramin Haerizadeh, Rokni Haerizadeh & Hesam Rahmanian, Zahra Malkani, Khandakar Ohida and Marrim Akashi Sani. Selected from over 300 applicants by an international jury, their works will be showcased in the V&A South Kensington exhibition, “Jameel Prize: Moving Images,” opening on 30 November 2024. The winner will receive a £25,000 prize. The exhibition, exploring themes like identity, community, and environmental impact, will tour nationally and internationally after its London run.

Samia Halaby’s Triptych ‘Morning Rain’ leads Bonhams’ Middle Eastern Auction
Samia Halaby (born 1936), Morning Rain, 1997, acrylic on canvas, triptych, 130 x 280 cm. Estimate: £150,000-300,000
Samia Halaby (born 1936), Morning Rain, 1997, acrylic on canvas, triptych, 130 x 280 cm.

Samia Halaby’s monumental artwork “Morning Rain” will take centre stage at Bonhams’ Modern & Contemporary Middle Eastern Art Sale on June 5th, estimated at £150,000-300,000. Recognised as a leading abstract painter, Halaby earned a Special Mention at the 2024 Venice Biennale. This triptych, spanning nearly 3 meters wide, captures the essence of a morning rain shower, offering viewers an immersive experience. Additionally, Bonhams will showcase selections from AbdulMagid Breish’s collection, including Louay Kayyali’s “Fisherboy” and works by Dia al-Azzawi and Georges Bahgoury. Breish, an esteemed international banker and art patron, curated his collection through personal connections with prominent artists.

Exploring Morocco’s Legacy: Unveiling Al-Dādasī’s Manuscript

Digital Copy of the Manuscript
Digital Copy of the Manuscript

As part of the Qatar-Morocco 2024 Year of Culture, the team delved into Morocco’s history through the Qatar Digital Library (QDL). They uncovered a significant 17th-century manuscript by scholar Alī ibn Muḥammad al-Dādasī, detailing astronomical timekeeping. Al-Dādasī, from Dades, Atlas Mountains, authored several manuscripts on timekeeping. Sara Al Mohannadi, from the National Committee for Years of Culture, emphasised their collaboration with Qatar National Library to enrich cultural exchange and strengthen Qatar-Morocco relations. QDL, launched in 2014 in partnership with Qatar Foundation and the British Library, offers a vast digital archive of historical documents. QNL’s Executive Director, Tan Huism, praised the initiative’s use of QDL’s resources to support cultural programs.

Tabreed transforms UAE facility into street art

Tabreed, the global leader in district cooling, has turned its UAE facility into a street art stage. Located on Al Maryah Island, the plant serves clients like Cleveland Clinic and Four Seasons with essential cooling services. Inspired by Abu Dhabi’s street art scene, Tabreed’s management proposed the plant as a canvas. Renowned Emirati artist Saggaf Alhashmi’s 3D concept featuring Arabian Oryx and Arabian Sand Gazelle was chosen. Completed ahead of schedule, the mural celebrates the island’s heritage and Tabreed’s cooling technology. Chairman Khaled Al Qubaisi praises the transformation, emphasising Tabreed’s commitment to environmentalism and urban design, positioning it as a leader in district cooling worldwide.

Louvre Abu Dhabi and the National Museum, Sultanate of Oman Continue the Cultural Exchange

© Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi - Photo Thierry Ollivier
Bowl with two-colour inscription; Bowl with two-colour inscription, Central Asia, 10th-11th century CE, Ceramic, with underglaze slip decoration, 8.5 x 25.3 cm, 25.3 cm. Louvre Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi. © Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi – Photo Thierry Olivier.

Louvre Abu Dhabi and the National Museum, Sultanate of Oman, have signed a new loan agreement, featuring two notable artworks from Louvre Abu Dhabi’s collection on exhibit at the National Museum for a year. This partnership, highlighting a tradition of cultural exchange, includes a Samanid dynasty bowl with Arabic proverbs and Josef Albers’ “Homage to the Square.” The bowl enriches the ‘Splendours of Islam’ gallery, while Albers’ piece is part of ‘Oman and the World,’ reflecting global artistic connections. This collaboration continues their successful history, including the “Gardens of Paradise” exhibition on Iznik ceramics in 2021.

Hoor Al Qasimi is appointed as Artistic Director of the 25th Biennale of Sydney, 2026

Hoor Al Qasimi. Photograph: Daniel Bou
Hoor Al Qasimi. Photograph: Daniel Bou

Hoor Al Qasimi has been named Artistic Director of the 25th Biennale of Sydney, scheduled for March 7 to June 8, 2026. With a focus on community collaboration and multidisciplinary programming, she aims to amplify diverse voices and perspectives within the vibrant multicultural landscape of Sydney. Al Qasimi, President of the Sharjah Art Foundation, brings over 20 years of experience in curating and promoting experimentation and innovation across various art forms. Her appointment reflects her global influence in the arts, including directing the Sharjah Biennial since 2002 and leading the International Biennial Association.

Yvette Achkar, one of Lebanon’s leading abstract painters has passed away at the age of 96

selections arts yvette achkar
Yvette Achkar.

Yvette Achkar, one of Lebanon’s leading abstract painters has passed away at the age of 96. Born in 1928 in Sao Paolo, Brazil, to Lebanese parents, she ultimately found her artistic home in Lebanon. Despite her initial aspirations in music, her profound connection with painting led her to a unique mastery of oil on canvas. Achkar’s work, characterised by meticulous brushwork and a profound exploration of space, invites viewers into a world of emotional and spiritual depth.

Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation and Dolce&Gabbana unveil the winners of the Design Award 2024

Fashion Category winner
Fashion Category winner.

The Abu Dhabi Music & Art Foundation (ADMAF) and Dolce&Gabbana proudly announce the winners of the ADMAF x Dolce&Gabbana Design Award 2024, celebrating emerging talents in innovative design. Sarah AlMansoori wins in jewellery creations, while Azza Al Tawila di secures the fashion category. Both undergo a transformative 6-month paid internship at Dolce&Gabbana in Milan, with their creations showcased at the Abu Dhabi Festival 2025, blending tradition and innovation. Her Excellency Huda Alkhamis Kanoo expresses admiration for the finalists, emphasising collaboration between the UAE and Italy in nurturing youth and fostering cultural industries. The jury comprised international figures alongside Emirati artists and Dolce&Gabbana representatives.

Museo Nacional del Prado and Colnaghi announce the unveiling and loan of the previously lost Caravaggio masterpiece ‘Ecce Homo’

Michelangelo Merisi (known as Caravaggio), Ecce Homo, 1605-09. Oil on canvas, 111 x 86 cm. Image courtesy of private collection.
Michelangelo Merisi (known as Caravaggio), Ecce Homo, 1605-09. Oil on canvas, 111 x 86 cm. Image courtesy of private collection.

The Museo Nacional del Prado and Colnaghi announce the nine-month loan of the previously ‘lost’ Caravaggio’s masterpiece, ‘Ecce Homo’, to the Spanish national museum in Madrid. From May 28 to October 2024, the Prado Museum will host a special solo exhibition of this iconic painting, believed to have once been part of Phillip IV of Spain’s private collection. Since its reappearance at an auction in April 2021, the painting has been under Colnaghi’s care, restored by Andrea Cipriani, and scrutinised by experts, affirming its attribution to Caravaggio. This significant discovery, inspiring a swift consensus around its authentication, is accompanied by a comprehensive publication featuring essays by leading experts and bearing testament to the work’s monumental importance. The unveiling of ‘Ecce Homo’ is a testament to its enduring significance in art history.

Christie’s announces its upcoming ‘Modern & Contemporary Art’ auction on its Dubai online platform

selections arts MONIR SHAHROUDY FARMANFARMAIAN(1922, QAZVIN - 2019, TEHRAN) Untitled, 1974 (Estimate US$80,000-120,000) christie's Dubai
Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian (1922, Qazvin – 2019, Tehran), Untitled, 1974
(Estimate US $ 80,000 – 120,000)

Christie’s unveils its edition second of the Dubai online platform, ‘Modern and Contemporary Art – Dubai,’ with bidding running from May 9th to 23rd. Celebrating cross-cultural dialogues, the event showcases modern and contemporary artists from the Middle East and the wider Global South, reflecting the region’s rich diversity. Notably, demand for broader artist representation has expanded the sale to include works from Africa, Latin America, and South Asia. Approximately 90 artworks spanning painting, sculpture, photography, and works on paper from the 1950s to 2020s will be featured. Leading the sale is a rare pre-revolution piece by Monir Shahroudy Farmanfarmaian. Highlights encompass significant works by modern masters and emerging talents from various countries, honouring the rich artistic heritage of the Middle East and North Africa. Additionally, the sale presents works from the Gulf region and beyond, including artists from Colombia, Pakistan, Trinidad, the Republic of Benin, and The Ivory Coast, showcasing shared ideas across borders and diverse artistic experiments.

Frank Stella pioneering abstract painter dies at age 87

Frank Stella in 1997. Photo by Zapfullstein bild via Getty Images selections arts
Frank Stella in 1997. Photo by Zapfullstein bild via Getty Images

Frank Stella, the artist renowned for his minimalist abstract paintings, passed away at 87 due to lymphoma, as confirmed by his wife to the New York Times. His ‘Black Paintings’ in the late 1950s disrupted the dominance of Abstract Expressionism. Stella’s career spanned over six decades, marked by retrospectives at prestigious institutions like MoMA and the Whitney Museum. While he initially adhered to controlled geometric forms, his later works embraced spontaneity, earning both acclaim and critique. Currently, a showcase of his monumental sculptures at Jeffrey Deitch Gallery captures his artistic evolution.

Louvre Abu Dhabi’s Richard Mille Art Here 2024 open call deadline extended

©Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi. Photo: Mohamed Alalawi.

Louvre Abu Dhabi extends the deadline for Art Here 2024 proposals until May 31, 2024, inviting contemporary artists from the GCC and North Africa to participate. Curated by Simon Njami, Art Here 2024 promises a diverse exploration of cultural narratives. Artists can submit proposals online for a chance to showcase their work under the architecture of the Louvre Abu Dhabi. This year’s theme, “Awakenings,” encourages artists to interpret it creatively. The Richard Mille Art Prize, with a grand prize of $60,000, will recognise artists, aligning with the museum’s goal of promoting regional talent. The winner will be announced in December 2024.

ICD Brookfield Place’s Tasmeem open call

ICD Brookfield Place, Tasmeem 2024.

ICD Brookfield Place announces the return of Tasmeem, the annual graphic design and poster show highlighting regional talent. The third edition, led by the ICD Brookfield Place Arts program, will run in June 2024, accepting submissions until May 17, 2024, from regional design practitioners, thinkers, type designers, and students. Tasmeem aims to enrich graphic design discourse by providing a platform for emerging and established talents. This year’s theme, ‘Memory Box,’ conceived by Emirati designer Wafa Al Falahi, explores cultural memories through folkloric tales, music, and games. Selected designers will exhibit their work, each receiving AED 1,000, under the guidance of a diverse selection committee.

Qatar Museums at the NEXT IN Summit 2024
Qatar Museums at the NEXT IN Summit, 2024.

Qatar Museums participated in the NEXT IN Summit 2024, held from April 24th to 25th, organised by ACCIONA Cultura in Madrid. Esteemed cultural leaders gathered to explore the evolving museum landscape and cultural innovation. José Manuel Entrecanales, ACCIONA’s president and CEO, emphasised culture’s pivotal role in human development, sustainability, and societal prosperity. Qatar Museums delegates, including Sheikha Reem Al Thani, Dr Christian Wacker, Essa Al Mannai, and Dr Alkindi Al Jawabra, contributed to discussions on Qatar’s cultural initiatives. They presented Qatar’s ‘Building a Creative Nation’ plan, emphasising architecture’s integration of emerging artists’ works. Qatar Museums fosters cultural exchange globally, enriching Qatar’s cultural landscape and promoting dialogue and collaboration.

Hunna Art adds Joud Fahmy to their roster of artists

Joud Fahmy.

Hunna Art welcomes Joud Fahmy to their representation. Born in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in 1994, Fahmy’s artistic exploration delves into women’s voices and societal dynamics, translating concepts like family and gender into tangible mixed-media sculptures and audio-visual pieces. Bridging traditional and modern, her work aims to transcend societal norms, fostering dialogue and reshaping culture. Fahmy earned her MA in Contemporary Art Practice from the Royal College of Art in 2023. As a former Judo Olympian for Saudi Arabia (2016) and a participant in prestigious programs like the Hayy Learning Programme (2019) and Maan Grant (2020), Fahmy’s diverse experiences enrich her artistic vision. She has exhibited internationally, including at Tate Modern Late and Leighton House Museum (2023), and is set to complete a residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts (Paris) in 2024, solidifying her standing in the art world.

10th Saudi Film Festival Launches at Ithra with a Focus on Science Fiction

Saudi Film Festival.

The King Abdulaziz World Cultural Center (Ithra) kicks off the 10th annual Saudi Film Festival, running from May 2-9, 2024. This event celebrates a decade of cinema, with a special focus on Science Fiction Cinema. The festival boasts 76 screenings and 53 competing titles vying for 36 prestigious awards. With a revamped competition structure, including Film, Unexecuted Screenplay, and Production Market Projects categories, SFF highlights environmental and artistic achievements through the Golden Palm Awards. Offering professional development workshops, symposiums, and masterclasses, SFF contributes to the growth of Saudi Arabia’s film industry. The festival also honours cinematic pioneers like Abdul Mohsen Al-Nimr, acknowledging his impactful contributions to Gulf cinema.

April 2024

Records for Lebanese artists at Sotheby’s London auction ‘Love Letter to Beirut’ 

Aref El Rayess, ‘The World of Petrol.’ Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Sotheby’s London recently honoured Lebanon’s artistic pioneers in an auction titled ‘Love Letter to Beirut‘ featuring thirty Lebanese artists, alongside others influenced by the country. The event totalled £1,752,092, with many lots surpassing expectations. Aref El Rayess set a record with ‘The World of Petrol,’ selling for £457,200. Helen Khal achieved a record with her abstract canvas for £95,250, and Etel Adnan’s abstract fetched £190,500. Additional artist records were set for Anas Albraehe, Samia Osseiran Junblat, and Willy Aractingi.

Millon Middle East Moderne & Contemporain Auction in Beirut and Paris

Louay Kayalı, The Lady in Red, Oil on canvas, signed and dated in Arabic «Kayali 77» at the bottom left, signed, titled, and dated on the back. Image courtesy of Agop Kanledjian.

Millon presents the second edition of the live auction in collaboration with Mark Hachem Gallery, showcasing Modern & Contemporary Middle-Eastern art. The event will be held at Monty Club on April 25th at 6 PM Beirut time and 5 PM Paris time, featuring artwork from Iran, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Modern Lebanon, and Women artists in Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine. With locations in Beirut and Paris, the auction promises a diverse selection of pieces reflecting the cultural tapestry of the Middle East. The highlights in the auction include Shafic Abboud, ‘Fenêtre’, Nadia Saikali, ‘Temps Immobile’, and Louay Kayyali’s ‘The Lady in Red.’

Abu Dhabi Art’s Beyond Emerging Artists exhibit in Venice during Biennale Arte 2024

Almaha Jarrala, Crude Memory

Abu Dhabi Art presents its Beyond Emerging Artists program, showcasing Almaha Jaralla, Samo Shalaby, and Latifa Saeed at the Venice Biennale from April 16 to May 15. Shalaby displays “What Lies Beneath,” a multimedia installation exploring identity. Saeed’s “Dust Devils” delves into Gulf desert landscapes, highlighting nature’s harmony. Since 2017, the BEA program has nurtured UAE artists with workshops and mentorship, culminating in exhibitions. Curated by Morad Montazami, this iteration marks Abu Dhabi Art’s second Venice appearance, showcasing local talent on a global scale. Jaralla reflects on the region’s history, while Saeed praises local support for artists, echoing Abu Dhabi Art’s commitment to fostering contemporary art.

The Ithra-produced film wins three awards at the Gulf Cinema Festival

Majed Z. Samman, Ithra’s Head of Cinema & Performing Arts, at Gulf Cinema Festival

Funded and produced by The King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), the feature film ‘Hajjan’ swept the Gulf Cinema Festival, winning Best Feature, Best Actor (Omar Alatawi as Matar), and Best Cinematography. Ithra plays a role in Saudi Arabia’s film industry growth, nurturing local talent and fostering cinematic content creation. Through Ithra Film Production, the Kingdom’s indie film scene thrives, both on and off-screen, amplifying its presence globally. ‘Hajjan,’ shot in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, portrays Saudi cultural heritage through a coming-of-age narrative set in the desert, showcasing the talent of Saudi actors and the country’s cinematic potential.

The 10th Istanbul Photo Award announces winner

The 10th Istanbul Photo Awards, an international news photography contest by Anadolu, unveiled its winners. Thirty-two photographers were honoured across ten categories, amidst a pool of over 20,000 submissions. Mohammed Salem of Reuters secured the coveted ‘Photo of the Year’ title with his portrayal of Palestinian grief. The International jury commended the exceptional quality of entries. Noteworthy winners include Mahmud Hams for ‘Story News,’ Luca Bettini for ‘Single Sport,’ and Garry Lotulung for ‘Story Nature and Environment.’

Dubai Design District hosts event with partner Durini Design Association amid Milan Design Week

Dubai Design District, under TECOM Group PJSC, expanded its presence in Italy by hosting its inaugural networking event in Milan, in collaboration with Milano Durini Design Association. Held during Milan Design Week, the gathering unites design luminaries to discuss sector trends and challenges. d3’s partnership with MDD aims to foster cross-cultural insights and collaboration, elevating design excellence. This initiative enhances Dubai’s status as a global design hub, facilitating connections between Italian talent and the MENA region. The event, held at the iconic Four Seasons Hotel Milano, signifies d3’s commitment to global creativity and collaboration in the digital age.

Israeli Pavilion remains shut as artist Ruth Patir calls for a ceasefire

Amidst the opening of the 60th Venice Biennale, the Israel Pavilion remains closed as artist Ruth Patir and curators opt to withhold the exhibition until a ceasefire and hostage release agreement is achieved. Patir, chosen before October 7, aligns with pro-Palestine voices urging a boycott. Her Instagram statement emphasises solidarity, denouncing cultural boycotts yet highlighting the urgency for peace.

Wadi AlFann showcase during La Biennale di Venezia

The Standing Lady, Wadi Al Fann

During the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Wadi AlFann presents “Journeys in Land Art, Towards Wadi AlFann, AlUla,” showcasing its inaugural five commissioned artists. Renderings, drawings, and interviews offer a glimpse into Wadi AlFann’s future as a global hub for contemporary art, set in the vast landscape of AlUla, Saudi Arabia. The exhibited works envision large-scale, site-specific commissions, drawing inspiration from AlUla’s topography and heritage. Artists like Ahmed Mater and James Turrell reveal their plans for immersive installations, while Manal AlDowayan’s participatory workshops with AlUla communities inspire drawings reflecting local life. Wadi AlFann Publications also launches artists’ books: Oasis of Stories and The Desert Field Guide. Saudi artist Manal AlDowayan joins US artist Mark Dion to discuss the book as work of art, how participation is core to their practice and what their artistsbooks tell us about the desert. These pieces, alongside artist interviews, provide a preview of Wadi AlFann’s artistic journey.

Ithra showcases two curated exhibitions during Milan Design Week

Ithra and Isola’s Routes to Roots exhibition, MDW24 ©Isola Design – Anwyn Howarth

Ithra partners with Isola to feature two curated exhibitions at Milan Design Week, April 16 – 21. “Routes to Roots,” born from Tanween, blends heritage and modernity, showcasing sustainable designs. It’s part of Isola’s Design Festival, hosting global designers and talks. “Iwan,” a foldable pavilion, merges Islamic design with modern architecture, created by Saudi artists. A 3-D printed version will be exhibited alongside “Routes to Roots” in Milan’s Galleria Giovanni Bonelli. Both projects emphasise eco-conscious design, using biomaterials and waste. Noura Alzamil of Ithra highlights the platform’s role in promoting Saudi design globally. Isola’s CEO, Gabriele Cavallaro, expresses pride in their partnership, aiming to nurture talent and conscious design.

Launch of Emirati artist Abdullah Al Saadi’s monograph in Venice

Abdullah Al Saadi: خرج ولم يعد / Sometimes You Have to Go a Long Way to Come back a Short Distance, 2024. Copyright © 2024 Sharjah Art Foundation.

The Sharjah Art Foundation launches Emirati artist Abdullah Al Saadi’s monograph, “خرج ولم يعد/Sometimes You Have To Go a Long Way to Come Back A Short Distance,” co-published by Sharjah Art Foundation and Kaph Books in Venice. The book celebrates movement and travel as creative methodologies and ritual practices for Al Saadi, exploring the reciprocal impact between the artist and the landscape. Selected to represent the UAE at the 60th Venice Art Biennale, Al Saadi will unveil a solo exhibition curated by Tarek Abou El Fetouh, Director of Performance and Senior Curator at Sharjah Art Foundation.

Open call at the IMA’s 12e edition of the Prix de la Littérature Arabe

Established in 2013 by the Jean-Luc Lagardère Foundation and the Arab World Institute, the Arab Literature Prize honours literary works from the Arab world. Endowed with €10,000, the prize promotes the work of a writer from the Arab world, author of a novel or collection of short stories written in Arabic and translated into French or directly written in French, and published by a publishing house. The call for submissions for the 12th edition of the Arab Literature Prize is open until June 30, 2024. Authors of works published between September 1, 2023, and September 30, 2024, are eligible to apply.

Fathi Hassan added to Richard Saltoun Gallery’s roster of artists

Fathi Hassan portrait.

Richard Saltoun Gallery announces its representation of Fathi Hassan, a Nubian-Egyptian artist. Born in Cairo and displaced by the Aswan High Dam construction in 1952, Hassan gained artistic prominence in Italy. He became the first African and Arab artist showcased at the Venice Biennale in 1988. Now based in Edinburgh since 2018, Hassan’s work reflects his personal history of displacement, exploring themes of lost languages and colonial domination. His upcoming solo exhibition, “I Can See you Smiling Fatma,” at Richard Saltoun Gallery London, showcases his artistic journey from the early 2000s to today, encompassing painting, drawing, collage, and installation.

BIPOD: Celebrating 20 Years of Dance Innovation in Beirut

BIPOD, the Beirut International Platform of Dance, celebrates two decades of contemporary dance during its 20th anniversary from April 16th to April 21st, 2024. Set against Beirut’s vibrant backdrop, the festival epitomises a heritage of cultural exchange and artistic innovation, themed “To do. To share.” Founded by Omar Rajeh, BIPOD pioneers not only in Lebanon but globally, introducing the country’s first international dance festival and establishing Beirut as a cultural hub. Through Maqamat, BIPOD’s driving force, perceptions of the performing arts scene evolve. The 2024 edition unveils a fresh format, featuring immersive performances in unconventional spaces, promising an enriching experience for audiences worldwide.

The Tbilisi Art Fair inaugurates its 4th edition

The 4th edition of the Tbilisi Art Fair (TAF) unfolds from April 11th to April 14th, showcasing a dialogue where East meets West. TAF illuminates material-led processes, revealing artists’ journeys and shaping visions into reality. Embracing tradition and innovation, TAF 2024 blurs boundaries between history and technology. Participating artists explore authenticity and imperfection, inviting viewers to reflect. With over 20 countries represented, TAF presents dynamic contemporary artists and galleries, notably from Georgia. Special exhibitions curated by Irena Popiashvili and others explore new beginnings and textile politics. Henrik Vibskov joins, enriching the tapestry of creativity. TAF Conversations and VIP Program offer immersive experiences for art enthusiasts.

Institut de Monde Arabe announces an open call for the 2024 Design Prize

The Institut du Monde Arabe has opened applications for its 2024 Arab World Design Award, resonating with the “Arabofuturs” exhibition, featuring categories for emerging talent, established talent, and entrepreneurial talent. The IMA Design Award aims to showcase emerging and established Arab designers, highlighting craftsmanship and innovation in material creation. They offer a contemporary interpretation of the Arab way of life through design. Winners will be honoured at the Arab World Institute during Paris Design Week. The Arab World Institute, a French cultural institution, illuminates Arab cultures in their richness and diversity. It explores various fields like visual arts, performing arts, literature, languages, philosophy, and research. By launching the first “Arab World Institute Design Award,” it seeks to amplify the dynamism and creativity of Arab design practices.

AlUla to showcase at Milan Design Week

Design Space AlUla, Al Jadidah Art District. image credit RCU 20

Design Space AlUla unveils recent design endeavours at Milan Design Week’s Mediateca Santa Teresa, Brera from April 14-21, 2024. Featuring works from AlUla, an oasis city with design ventures, the exhibition showcases projects from Madrasat Addeera Editions and AlUla Design Residency. From Dr Zahrah Alghamdi’s leather “Magic Pillars” to TAKK’s clay “Seating Dune,” each piece encapsulates AlUla’s essence. TECHNOCrafts’ “Living Pots” emulate AlUla’s ecosystem sustainability. Meanwhile, AlUla Design Residency presents diverse creations, from Leo Orta’s geological-inspired benches to Raw Materials’ historical artefacts. Architectural innovations like Leen Ajlan’s “Takki” and Hall Haus’ “Haus Dari” redefine traditional spaces. Designed by CLOUD and Sabine Marcelis, the exhibition space mirrors AlUla’s cultural richness, offering a glimpse into its creative evolution.

Italian designer and architect Gaetano Pesce dies at age 84

Gaetano Pesce. Copyright Mark C.O’Flaherty.

Italian designer and architect Gaetano Pesce, aged 84, has passed away, confirmed via an Instagram post from his studio. Pesce revolutionised art, design, and architecture over six decades. Despite health challenges, especially in recent times, Pesce remained optimistic, playful, and curious. Born in La Spezia in 1939, Pesce studied architecture in Venice, later teaching in Strasbourg, Milan, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo, and New York. His diverse projects worldwide emphasised modernism’s capacity to interpret the contemporary world while celebrating individuality. Since 1962, Pesce’s industrial design career saw him creating iconic pieces for industry giants like B&B Italia, Vitra, and Cassina. His notable designs include the Up armchair and vivid resin-dipped Come Stai? chairs. His works are featured in over 30 museum collections worldwide and have earned him numerous accolades, including the Chrysler Award for Innovation and Design.

Sharjah Art Foundation Announces Sharjah Biennial 16 Initial Artist List and Curatorial Framework

From left to right: Natasha Ginwala, Megan Tamati-Quennell, Zeynep Öz, Alia Swastika and Amal Khalaf. Al Mureijah, Sharjah, 2024. Photo: Danko Stjepanovic

The Sharjah Art Foundation announces the initial artist lineup for the sixteenth Sharjah Biennial (SB16), curated by a diverse team including Alia Swastika, Amal Khalaf, Megan Tamati-Quennell, Natasha Ginwala, and Zeynep Öz. Their curatorial frameworks, in dialogue with the Biennial’s 30-year history, emphasise hybrid methodologies such as residencies, discussions, and deep listening to amplify Sharjah’s context. Projects explore diverse sources of knowledge, cross-cultural alliances, and communal learning through weaving, translating, and performing. The curators reflect on carrying home, ancestors, and political formations, focusing on tenderness as a gesture of care and alliance building.   Themes relating to power dynamics, poetics versus politics, and women’s spiritual knowledge in shaping humanity will be on display. From February 6 to June 15, 2025, SB16 will activate venues across Sharjah City, Al Hamriyah, Al Dhaid, Kalba, and other locations in the Emirate of Sharjah. The featured artists include Adelita Husni-Bey, Akinbode Akinbiyi, Akira Ikezoe, Alia Farid, Brian Martin, Cécile B. Evans, Dian Suci Rahmawati, Ipeh Nur, Restu Ratnaningtyas, Fatma Belkıs, Hellen Ascoli, Heman Chong, Joe Namy, Jorge González, Kaloki Nyamai, Kapulani Landgraf, Kate Newby, Mahmoud Khaled, Michael Parekōwhai, Mila Turajlić, Mónica de Miranda, Pallavi Paul, Pratchaya Phinthong, Rajni Perera, Rossella Biscotti, Saffronn Te Ratana, Serapis Maritime, Shivanjani Lal, Stephanie Comilang, Steven Yazzie, Womanifesto, Ximena Garrido-Lecca, and Yhonnie Scarce.

American artist Richard Serra dies at the age of 85

Richard Serra in 2008. He has died aged 85. Photograph: Regina Kuehne/EPA

Artist Richard Serra, known for pushing the limits of sculpture, passed away at 85 in his New York home. His colossal curved steel installations transformed spaces and evoked physical reactions in viewers. Born in 1939 in San Francisco, Serra drew inspiration from his father’s shipyard work and embraced art after a prank-filled stint at Yale. His journey led him to redefine art’s relationship with viewers, notably through controversial urban sculptures. Despite initial resistance, his monumental steelworks gained acclaim globally, showcasing his enduring influence until his passing. Serra’s legacy as a leading American sculptor endures, defying digital trends with his tangible, weighty creations.

Qatar Museums’ film wins Guirlande D’Honneur 2024 Award from the International Federation of Sports Cinema and Television

“From Here to Anywhere: The Story of Football in Qatar,” a documentary by Qatar Museums Digital Production team, led by Erin Fleming, and 3-2-1 Qatar Olympic and Sports Museum, helmed by Director Mr Abdulla Yousef Al Mulla, has been honoured with the Guirlande D’Honneur 2024. This FICTS award, akin to the “Oscar” of sports Television and Cinema, recognises significant efforts in promoting cultural and ethical values. Senior Digital Production Specialist Pascale Abou Jamra spearheaded the film, aiming to spotlight Qatar’s rich football history preceding the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™. Featuring key voices and tracing Qatar’s football journey, the documentary celebrates heritage, culture, and the sport’s profound impact.

March 2024

Lawrie Shabibi Gallery announces the representation of artist Mandy El-Sayegh

Mandy El-Sayegh. image courtesy of Lawrie Shabibi Gallery.

Lawrie Shabibi announces that it will be representing the artist Mandy El-Sayegh, adding her to the gallery roster. Currently, El-Sayegh’s debut solo exhibition in Dubai, “A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose,” curated by Sara Raza, is showcased until April 4, 2024. Born in 1985 in Selangor, Malaysia, El-Sayegh is of Palestinian and Chinese descent. Her diverse practice, encompassing drawing, collage, painting, sound, performance, and installation, transforms gallery spaces into immersive experiences, mirroring her studio’s ambience. Inspired by philosophy and science, she reconstructs fragmented information to create new narratives, reflecting punk’s DIY ethos. Her layered artworks, featuring magazine cutouts, maps, and texts, explore themes of identity and order breakdown. El-Sayegh’s creations have been showcased worldwide and are part of prestigious institutional collections.

The Sultanate of Oman presents the artistic team at the Venice Biennale Arte 2024

Alia Al Farsi, Curator and Artist – Image courtesy of
National Pavilion of the Sultanate of Oman, Venice Biennale. Photo: Asim Al Balushi

The Sultanate of Oman unveils its second national Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Titled “Malath-Haven,” the exhibition will be on display from April 20 to November 24, 2024. Curated by artist and gallerist Alia Al Farsi, the showcase features new works by prominent Omani contemporary artists Ali Al Jabri, Essa Al Mufarji, Sarah Al Olaqi, Adham Al Farsi, and Alia Al Farsi. Reflecting the Biennale’s theme “Foreigners everywhere,” the diverse lineup captures Oman’s multicultural legacy. Alia Al Farsi, the curator, praised the artists’ impactful contributions to Oman’s contemporary art scene.

Sharjah Art Foundation signs Memorandum of Understanding  with M+ in Hong Kong

Sheikha Nawar Al Qassimi and Suhanya Raffel signing the MOU during the Hong Kong International Cultural Summit 2024. Photo: Winnie Yeung @ Visual Voices. Courtesy of West Kowloon Cultural District Authority

Sharjah Art Foundation signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with M+ Hong Kong during the Hong Kong International Cultural Summit, hosted by the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA). The MOU signals a long-term partnership between the two organisations.  M+, Asia’s pioneering museum of contemporary visual culture, is established under WKCDA, Hong Kong’s cultural landmark and a global cultural project. The MOU signals a long-term partnership between the two organisations, aimed at fostering contemporary art production and presentation. Sheikha Nawar Al Qassimi, Vice President of Sharjah Art Foundation, expressed enthusiasm, highlighting their dedication to enhancing cultural exchange. Their collaboration includes showcasing The Peacock’s Graveyard by Amar Kanwar, which premiered at Sharjah Biennial 15 and is currently exhibited at M+.

‘Guerrilla’ Palestinian Art Festival at the Barbican

Pro-Palestine protestors gather at the Barbican in London on Saturday March 16, 2024. Photo courtesy of Censorship at the Barbican.

Pro-Palestine activists gathered at London’s Barbican Centre on March 16 for “Let Us Speak,” a guerrilla festival showcasing Palestinian art. This followed withdrawals from the “Unravel” exhibition due to alleged censorship of Indian writer Pankaj Mishra. Organised by Culture Workers Against Genocide (CWAG) and others, the protest featured banners like “Stop Cultural Genocide” and included dance, poetry, crafts, and a pop-up radio station. CWAG distributed letters demanding the Barbican feature Palestinian artists without censorship. Several artists, including Mounira al Solh, requested their works removed. The Barbican defended its actions, aligning with recent protests globally supporting Palestine in cultural spaces.

Qatar Museum exhibition in Venice ‘Your Ghosts Are Mine: Expanded Cinemas, Amplified Voices’

Ramata-Toulaye Sy, Banel & Adama 2023

Qatar Museums unveils ‘Your Ghosts Are Mine: Expanded Cinemas, Amplified Voices,’ an exhibition coinciding with the 60th International Art Exhibition at the Venice Biennale. Showcasing filmmakers and video artists from the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia, it explores themes of community, memory, and resistance to gender-based violence. Curated by Matthieu Orléan with the collaboration of Majid Al-Remaihi and Virgile Alexandre, the exhibition spans ten galleries, featuring films and video works from diverse artists, enriching cultural understanding. The exhibition aligns with Qatar’s mission to foster cross-cultural dialogue and empower emerging talents. On view from April 19 until November 24, it accompanies other Qatar Museums initiatives during the Venice Biennale, reinforcing the country’s commitment to artistic exchange and collaboration on a global stage.

National Pavilion of Lebanon to present “A Dance with her Myth” a multimedia installation by Mounira Al Solh at the Venice Biennale Arte 2024

Mounira Al Solh, A Dance with her Myth, 2023. Wooden boat and mast, sail (organic red textile, beige cotton can-vas & embroidered cotton), fishing cages, sage and bay leaves, plastic bottles, and other materials; video, color, sound, 130 x 490 x 170 cm (Boat); 190,5 x 310 cm (Painting).
Courtesy of the Artist; Sfeir-Semler Gallery Bei-rut/Hamburg. © LVAA

In a press conference held at the National Museum of Beirut, prominent figures in the Arts and Culture scene gathered as Nada Ghandour, the commissioner and curator of the Pavilion of Lebanon, announced the theme for the 60th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. Under the Ministry of Culture’s auspices and organised by the Lebanese Visual Art Association (LVAA), the Pavilion will showcase the multimedia installation titled “A Dance with her Myth” by Mounira Al Solh. The installation, spanning 180 square meters at the Arsenale, invites visitors on a journey of exploration into the Phoenician mythos and its relevance to contemporary gender dynamics. Through her creative process of blending allegorical narrative with a documentary approach, Al Solh reinterprets the myth of Europa, challenging traditional gender roles and advocating for equality. Her work not only pays homage to Lebanon’s rich cultural heritage but also serves as a testament to the enduring spirit of Lebanese art amidst challenging times. Designed by architect Karim Bekdache, the immersive scenography further enhances the visitor’s experience, fostering dialogue and reflection on themes of emancipation and cultural identity.

 

National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia to present ‘Shifting Sands: A Battle Song ‘by Manal AlDowayan at the Venice Biennale Arte 2024
Participatory workshops for Shifting Sands: A Battle Song (2024), by Manal AlDowayan. Photos by Iman Aldabbagh. Courtesy of the Visual Arts Commission, the Commissioner for the National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia. Photography by Iman Al-Dabbagh @photosbyiman

The National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia at the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia will feature “Shifting Sands: A Battle Song,” a multimedia installation by Saudi artist Manal AlDowayan, reflecting on the changing roles of women in Saudi society. AlDowayan conducted workshops across Saudi Arabia, including in Al Khobar, Jeddah, and Riyadh, where over 1,000 women contributed to her project. Participants engaged in group singing sessions and explored concepts of visibility and invisibility in global media. AlDowayan aimed to empower their voices and perspectives, incorporating their recorded singing, texts, and drawings into the installation. Returning to her community, AlDowayan questioned the history and transformation necessary for her artwork. “Shifting Sands: A Battle Song” calls for solidarity among Saudi women, urging ownership of their identity amidst historical narratives.

 

ADMAF announces the finalists of the ADMAF x Dolce&Gabbana Design Award 2024

ADMAF x Dolce&Gabbana collaboration

The Abu Dhabi Music & Art Foundation (ADMAF) and luxury fashion brand Dolce & Gabbana unveil the finalists of the ADMAF x Dolce & Gabbana Design Award 2024. This prize, open to current and recent university graduates from the UAE, aims to foster the talents of emerging creatives while honouring their cultural heritage through design. Azza Rashed Al Suwaidi, Maryam Omar Bin Ghaleb Alfalasi, and Muna Saqer AlMatrooshi were selected in the fashion category, while Sarah AlMansoori, Muhra Darwish AlBlooshi, and Alia Alzaabi selected in in the jewellery category. Winners will embark on a transformative internship in Italy to develop their designs, culminating in a showcase at the Abu Dhabi Festival 2025. Personalities like Stefano Galli of Dolce & Gabbana and Asma Al Fahim, Chairwoman of the Abu Dhabi Businesswomen Council, will join a jury, including Emirati artists Azza al Qubaisi, Ahmad Al Areef Al Dhaheri, and Sultan al Darmaki.

Modern Arab Art exhibition upcoming at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris

Hamed Abdalla, Conscience du Sol (1956), Collection Dar Abdalla. © Abdalla Estate, Paris.

The Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris unveils “Arab Presence: Modern Art and Decolonisation, Paris 1908-1988” from April 5 to August 25, 2024. The exhibition delves into the evolution of Modern Arab art, exploring the significant contributions of Arab artists in Paris amid France’s decolonisation. Showcasing over 200 works by nearly 130 artists, including Mahmoud Saïd and Marwan Kassab Bachi, it sheds light on lesser-known aspects of Modern art history. The exhibition, divided into four sections, chronicles Arab cultural enlightenment, responses to political challenges, and Arab immigration to France. In today’s climate of rising racism and Islamophobia, “Arab Presence” serves as a timely testament to shared histories and cultural resilience.

Hayy Jameel unveils 14 nights of art, film & community for Ramadan In Jeddah
Art Jameel announces its inaugural Ramadan Nights at Hayy Jameel, Jeddah’s hub for the arts (March 13 – April 4, 2024). With a diverse lineup celebrating community, culture, and wellness, the event offers workshops, talks, film screenings, pop-up eateries, and shopping across 14 nights with over 30 collaborators. Hayy Cinema presents local and international films post-iftar till midnight. Hayy Markets feature Jeddah-based artisans, designers, and more. The program includes interactive workshops, storytelling, games, wellness sessions, and opportunities to explore the current exhibition ‘At the Edge of Land’ until April 16, 2024.
Tasweer Photo Festival open call for the 2024 Tasweer Project and Single Image Awards

The Fourth Tasweer Awards Cycle, along with the 2024 Tasweer Project and Single Image Awards Open Call, runs from March 13 to May 5, 2024, as announced by Tasweer Photo Festival. This photography competition aims to uplift and showcase the diverse talents of photographers aged 18 and above residing in Western Asia and North Africa. Khalifa Ahmad Al Obaidli, Director of Tasweer, emphasised their commitment to empowering regional photographers, providing them with support, recognition, and opportunities for growth. The Tasweer Photo Festival serves as a platform for celebrating visual narratives and contributing to the evolving tapestry of artistic expression globally.

Interactive public art installations by regional artists at Alserkal Avenue

Library Dima Srouji.

Alserkal Avenue presented three art installations by Dima Srouji, Muhannad Shono and Nailini Malani. Palestinian artist Dima Srouji’s immersive exhibit, “This Is Not Your Grave,” curated by Zoé Whitely, reflects on Palestinian resilience amidst conflict. Muhannad Shono’s “The Forgotten Place” showcases nature’s adaptability to urban landscapes, using condensate from AC units to irrigate a garden. Nalini Malani’s “Can You Hear Me?” exhibition which took place only during Art Week confronted social injustice through a nine-channel video installation and outdoor screenings.

 

Artists and curators are urging for the exclusion of Israel from the Venice Biennale.

A view shows the entrance to the “Giardini”, one of the venues of the Venice Biennale. (Photo by Giuseppe Cottini/Getty Images).

A group named Art Not Genocide Alliance demands Israel’s exclusion from the Venice Biennale due to its atrocities against Palestinians. The petition has 12,000+ signatories. ANGA, comprising artists and cultural workers, criticises the Biennale’s silence on Israel’s actions, contrasting it with support for Ukraine. They cite Gaza’s high death toll and apartheid-era bans to support their stance. ANGA accuses Israel of promoting genocidal policies through its planned exhibition. Notable signatories include Adam Broomberg and Nan Goldin. The Palestine Museum’s rejected proposal will still be exhibited. The museum criticises Italy’s non-recognition of Palestine and condemns Israel’s exhibition amid the Gaza crisis, advocating for a Biennale boycott.

 

Sound Art Exhibition presented by Rizk Art Initiative documenting the effects of conflict on people & place

Rizq Art Initiative in Abu Dhabi, founded by Shafeena Yusuff Ali, debuted its second exhibition ‘Listening for Traces: Conflict, Sound & Memory’ curated by Dr Cathy Lane, Professor of Sound Arts at the University of the Arts London. Showcasing works by world-renowned sound artists, the exhibition explores the lasting impact of conflict on people, places, languages, and relationships. From February 23 to March 20, 2024, the exhibition at Rizq Art Gallery features films, installations, and performances diving into the complexities of conflict through sound. Artists from diverse backgrounds contribute, offering poignant reflections on historical wounds and the reverberating echoes of conflict in today’s world.

 

Tashkeel Announces Cohort for 2024 Critical Practice Programme
Tashkeel, a cultural incubator in the UAE, announces its 2024 cohort for the ninth annual Critical Practice Programme (CPP). Tashkeel’s CPP cohort for 2024 includes Moza Al Falasi, Ranim Al Halaky, Hamad Al Muzaini, Noura Alserkal and Muhummad Shamin Sahrum. This year-long initiative supports emerging visual artists in refining skills, pushing creative boundaries, and bringing new work to fruition. Participants from diverse backgrounds like architecture and typography will explore critical inquiries and expand their practices. Karam Hoar, Marketing & Communications Manager, highlights the rigorous selection process, underscoring CPP’s role in shaping a dynamic generation of visual creatives. The program offers artists time, space, facilities, and collaborative opportunities, culminating in research, production, and exhibition under mentorship. Tashkeel’s CPP fosters interdisciplinary collaboration, empowering artists to address pressing societal and environmental issues and contributing to the cultural landscape.
Tirazain, a new Palestinian embroidery online archive

Tirazain, a digital archive and library dedicated to preserving Palestinian embroidery (Tatreez), unites a global community spanning the UAE, the U.S., Europe, and beyond. Honouring Palestinian heritage, it fosters cultural pride, resilience, and belonging across geographical borders. From New York to Melbourne, Tirazain nurtures a global community eager to immerse themselves in Palestinian embroidery. Tirazain Designs are used worldwide, fostering bonds and a sense of belonging rooted in shared interests. Founder Zain Masri emphasises Tirazain’s mission to empower individuals to celebrate Palestinian heritage through art, bridging young Palestinians to their cultural identity. Recognised by UNESCO, Tirazain embodies collective action for its preservation & socio-economic development within Palestine.

February 2024

Art Dubai’s new Dubai public art commission unveiled 

Artists Khalid Albanna, Afra Al Dhaheri, Shaikha Al Mazrou, Asma Belhamar, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim. Commissioned by Dubai Culture in collaboration with Art Dubai ‘Union of Artists’ is the first permanent large-scale public sculpture of the Dubai Public Art Initiative. Photo by Cedric Ribeiro/Getty Images for Art Dubai

At Art Dubai 2023, five UAE-based artists emerged as finalists from over 250 applicants vying to create a permanent public artwork for Dubai Culture’s initiative in Al Hudaiba. Afra Al Dhaheri, Shaikha Al Mazrou, Mohamed Ahmed Ibrahim, Asma Belhamar, and Khalid Albanna proposed a collaborative piece titled ‘Union of Artists’. Representing unity and collaboration, the sculpture, now displayed in Al Hudaiba park, blends their diverse backgrounds and creative visions. Each artist contributed distinct elements: scale from Albanna, marble effect from Al Dhaheri, surface patterns from Ibrahim, architectural elements from Belhamar, and tension exploration from Al Mazrou. This collaborative effort, commissioned by Dubai Culture and Art Dubai, symbolises the UAE’s unity and enriches its cultural landscape.

Simone Fattal awarded the 2024 Berlin Grand Art Prize

Simone Fattal, Installation view, Thus Waves Come in Pairs, Ocean Space, Venice, Italy, 2023.

The 2024 Grand Berlin Art Prize goes to Damascus born artist Simone Fattal, awarded by the Akademie der Künste on March 18, 2024, at Pariser Platz. The €15,000 prize rotates among the Akademie’s sections, with a jury comprising of Monica Bonvicini, Karin Sander, and Wolfgang Tillmans. Established in 1948 by the Berlin Senate, the Berlin Art Prize commemorates the March Revolution of 1848, awarded by the Akademie der Künste since 1971. In the jury’s statement, Wolfgang Tillmans wrote: “Simone Fattal once stated: “‘Every person has to start his or her own journey to knowledge and then make a decision.’ She not only has herself embark on this journey, but invites us all to accompany her in her exploration of inner-human equilibrium and the balance between the tangible and the imaginable. Her practice bears witness to the enduring power of storytelling and the capacity of creativity, for humanity and community. What characterises Fattal is a profound humanism, an urgent call to engage with the present through history and with history through the present.

Qatar Museums presents panel discussions and keynote speakers in the first edition of the Design Doha Forum

Qatar Museums presents the Design Doha Forum (DDF), an event within Design Doha, exploring design’s impact on diverse aspects of life. Curated by Dr. Jelena Trkulja, the forum aims to position Doha’s design sector globally, fostering discussions on urban inclusivity and cultural preservation. Running from February 24th to 28th, 2024, DDF features sessions like “Crafting Futures” and “The Power of Design,” highlighting themes of heritage innovation and societal change. Renowned speakers delve into topics such as contemporary Arab design and the role of museums in design. Through engaging discussions, DDF offers insights into the evolving design landscape and its societal implications.

The Kingdom of Morocco is named as Qatar’s 2024 Years of Culture Partner

National Museum of Qatar. Courtesy of Qatar Tourism.

Years of Culture, Qatar’s initiative fostering cultural exchanges, designates the Kingdom of Morocco as its 2024 partner. Over 80 events will unfold in both nations, aiming to ignite exploration and connection through social development, heritage, creative industries, and innovation. Diplomatic ties between Qatar and Morocco since 1972 demonstrate the countries’ shared growth. Sheikha Al Mayassa emphasises the deep ties and cultural heritage exploration. Adel El Fakir highlights the event’s significance in showcasing Morocco’s rich culture. Launched in 2012, Years of Culture promotes cultural interactions through exhibitions, festivals, and educational partnerships. The Photography Journey and Design Doha biennial will feature collaborations, enriching the Qatar-Morocco 2024 Year of Culture.

Design Space AlUla, the first permanent gallery space dedicated to showcasing designinitiatives across AlUla opens

Design Space AlUla, AlJadidah Arts District. Image credit, RCU, Shoayb Khattab.

Design Space AlUla, situated in AlJadidah Arts District, launches as a hub for showcasing AlUla’s diverse design endeavours. It features exhibition, workshop, and archive spaces, fostering collaboration among design professionals and enthusiasts. Sara Ghani curates its inaugural exhibition, Mawrid: Celebrating Inspired Design, exploring design principles through AlUla’s landscape. The contemporary corten steel and glass building, designed by Giò Forma Studio, pays homage to AlJadidah’s breezeblock architecture. The exhibition includes projects like Maraya by Giò Forma Studio/Black Engineering and Roth Architecture’s Azulik Eco Resort. Design Space AlUla aims to fuel the design economy, champion sustainability, and preserve AlUla’s heritage. Its launch program includes keynote presentations, workshops, and design tours, enriching AlUla Arts Festival.

Qatar Museums Announces Leadership Appointments

Qatar Museums announces key leadership changes, appointing Mohammed Al-Rumaihi as CEO after his successful tenure as Acting CEO since July 2023. Sheikha Amna bint Abdulaziz Al Thani, previously Deputy CEO, is now Chief of Museum and Heritage Development, overseeing various museum projects. Dr. Julia Gonnella is appointed Director of the Lusail Museum, focusing on Orientalist art. Sheikh Abdulaziz H. Al Thani becomes Director of the National Museum of Qatar, and Shaika Nasser Al-Nassr is promoted to Director of the Museum of Islamic Art. These appointments aim to advance Qatar Museums’ mission under the guidance of Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa. Mohammed Al-Rumaihi emphasises the organisation’s continued growth and commitment to cultural development.

Talk at NYUAD: Sites of Memory, Sites of Amnesia; Glimpses of Abdullah Al Saadi’s solo exhibition at the National Pavilion UAE – La Biennale Di Venezia

Image Courtesy of National Pavilion UAE La Biennale di Venezia. Photo by Ammar Al Attar.

A dialogue featuring artist Abdullah Al Saadi and curator Tarek Abou El Fetouh, moderated by NYUAD Professor Salwa Mikdadi takes place on the 15th of February at New York University Abu Dhabi, Humanities Building, Room A6-001 from 6:30 – 8:30 PM. The focus of the dialogue is on Al Saadi’s multifaceted artistic journey, leading to his upcoming solo exhibition representing the UAE at the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Al Saadi, pivotal in UAE’s contemporary art scene, explores various mediums including painting, sculpture, and performance, influenced by the UAE’s landscape and his heritage. Collaborating with curator Abou El Fetouh, the exhibition titled ‘Abdullah Al Saadi: Sites of Memory, Sites of Amnesia’ delves into his creative process, reminiscent of ancient Arab poetic practices. Conducted in Arabic with English translation, the discussion will be available for streaming. The event, hosted by Al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art, contributes to the interdisciplinary study of Arab visual arts through research, conferences, and a unique digital archive, fostering scholarly resources and public engagement.

Click here to register for the talk

Bassam Freiha Art Foundation to open in Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Cultural District

Bassam Freiha Art Foundation, 2024. Designed by Rasha Gebran, Director of Architecture and Design at A.D.D. Consultants. Photography by Muhammed Shameem of Dreambox.

On March 4, 2024, the Bassam Freiha Art Foundation (BFAF) will open in Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Cultural District, spearheaded by philanthropist H.E. Bassam Freiha. It’s the district’s sole private art institution, aiming to spotlight global art collections, including rare pieces from local and international private collections. The inaugural exhibition, “Echoes of the Orient,” curated by BFAF’s Michaela Watrelot, juxtaposes Orientalist artworks with contemporary Arab pieces, fostering dialogue on cultural perceptions. Additionally, a concurrent exhibit, “Reclaiming Visions,” showcases Iraqi-Palestinian artist Sama Alshaibi’s photography and Emirati artist Azza Al Qubaisi’s sculptures, addressing historical representation of Arab women. BFAF, designed by Rasha Gebran, offers free access, emphasising inclusivity and art education.

Perform Sharjah presents 16 artists presenting contemporary performances and artistic productions

Perform Sharjah, part of Sharjah Art Foundation’s performance season, gathers 16 artists at Perhaps Here to explore contemporary imagination orbits. From February 9 to 11, 2024, the event unfolds in Majlis Al Sheikh Mohammed and Bait Al Serkal, Sharjah. Artists from diverse backgrounds share their creations with the public, echoing Khulood AlMu’alla’s poetry book ‘Rubbama Huna,’ translating to ‘Perhaps Here’ in English. The event offers a blend of live performances, including eight commissioned productions, spanning theater, video, poetry readings, and literature. Audience members can choose from various shows each night, experiencing a rich tapestry of artistic expressions simultaneously.

Sharjah Art Foundation announces program for March Meeting 2024: ‘Tawashujat’

The Sharjah Art Foundation announces the program for the 2024 edition of March Meeting (MM 2024) which delves into the synergy between art collectives and collaborative practices, featuring over 80 global artists, professionals, and academics. Happening from March 1st to 3rd at Khalid Bin Mohammed School in Sharjah, UAE, the program includes discussions, workshops, performances, and readings, all open to the public. The theme “Tawashujat” symbolises the merging of ideas, exploring inclusive, sustainable futures. MM 2024 explores collaborative approaches in art, curatorial, and activist realms, emphasising social justice, solidarity, and political mobilisation. The event facilitates active engagement through breakout sessions and discussions, aiming to redefine artistic agency and promote equity amidst global challenges.

Wael Shawky represents Egypt at La Biennale di Venezia 2024

Exhibition view ‘Wael Shawky: Dry Culture Wet Culture’, 2022, M Leuven, photo: © Lien Wevers for M Leuven

Wael Shawky will represent Egypt for the 2024 La Biennale di Venezia. Renowned for his storytelling prowess, Shawky intricately weaves historical and literary references into captivating narratives, blurring the lines between fable, reality, and imagination. Through mediums like film, performance, painting, and sculpture, Shawky explores themes of national, religious, and artistic identity. Shawky’s will be displayed in a solo exhibition, ‘I Am Hymns of The New Temples,’ at Museo Palazzo Grimani in Venice, commencing on April 17, 2024, curated by Massimo Osanna, Andrea Viliani, and Gabriel Zuchtriegel, in collaboration with the Archaeological Park of Pompeii under the ‘Pompeii Commitment. Archaeological Matters’ program.

Qatar Museums announces Art for Peace campaign with Qatar Red Crescent in support of Palestine

Qatar Museums, in collaboration with Qatar Red Crescent, launches Art for Peace, a humanitarian initiative responding to recent events in Gaza, Palestine. Beginning January 19 and continuing every Friday until March 8, 2024, from 2 pm to 6 pm, this weekly fundraiser spans various Qatar Museums’ locations, blending art, community, and humanitarianism. Art for Peace aims to raise awareness and funds through “Art & Creativity,” engaging Qatar’s diverse population to support Gaza, Palestine, and promote unity through artistic expression. With Qatar Red Crescent’s integral support, this initiative embodies solidarity and encourages community involvement in a noble cause.

Qatar Museums unveils line-up of designers and exhibitions for the inaugural edition of Design Doha

Louis Barthélemy, Gazelles, 2023

Qatar Museums unveils plans for six exhibitions at the inaugural Design Doha, celebrating design in Qatar and the MENA region from February 24 to August 5, 2024. Headlining the event is Arab Design Now, showcasing over 70 regional designers and 38 commissioned works at M7, Doha’s hub for innovation and fashion. Curated by Rana Beiruti, this exhibition explores contemporary design merged with regional heritage, emphasising sustainability. Additionally, five exhibitions including Weaving Poems and 100/100 Hundred Best Arabic Posters will debut. Crafting Uzbekistan, presented by the Uzbekistan Art and Culture Development Foundation, highlights Uzbek craft traditions fused with modern creativity.

ADMAF announces the winner of its 2023 TotalEnergies Sustainability Design Award

ADMAF unveils the winners of the TotalEnergies Sustainability Design Award 2023: Sara Ali Mahmoud and Mariam Hisham Al Qasim from the American University of Sharjah, champions of the ‘Temporary City Project’. This award, formerly the Design Commission, celebrates innovative Emirati talent in design and architecture since 2014. With a focus on sustainability, this year’s winning project epitomises the global call to tackle climate change and sustainability challenges. Huda Ibrahim Alkhamis, founder of ADMAF, underscores the significance of nurturing young talents like Sara and Mariam. TotalEnergies Foundation, committed to promoting culture, proudly supports emerging artists, reflecting a shared commitment to sustainability.

January 2024

The National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia Announces Curators for the Biennale Arte 2024

Jessica Cerasi, Maya El Khalil and Shadin AlBulaihed, 2023. Courtesy of the curators and the Visual Arts Commission, the Commissioner for the National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia

Jessica Cerasi, Maya El Khalil, and Shadin AlBulaihed are set to curate the Saudi Arabian Pavilion at the 60th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia. Commissioned by the Visual Arts Commission of the Ministry of Culture, the curatorial trio, along with assistant curator AlBulaihed, will collaborate with artist Manal AlDowayan. Their curatorial backgrounds and deep connections with AlDowayan promise a compelling presentation under the theme “Stranieri Ovunque – Foreigners Everywhere.” Cerasi, based in Abu Dhabi, brings experience from the Guggenheim Museum and biennials; El Khalil, an international curator, has a history with AlDowayan and has pioneered art exhibition approaches in Jeddah; AlBulaihed, from Misk Art Institute, explores local narratives. The curators express excitement about bringing Saudi stories to a global audience through AlDowayan’s participatory and collaborative works. The exhibition is scheduled from April 20 to November 24, 2024, at the National Pavilion in Venice’s Arsenale, Sale d’Armi.

AlUla unveils new Artist Residency programmes and participating creatives 

Artists and Designers at AlUla Artist Residency

AlUla, the cultural hub of Saudi Arabia, announces its AlUla Artist Residency Program, featuring six programs from October 2023 to October 2024. The initiative fosters a global network, inviting artists worldwide to contribute to AlUla’s rich heritage through visual arts, performance, design, and more. The residencies culminate in exhibitions during the AlUla Arts Festival, showcasing the dynamic collaborations between established and emerging artists. With a focus on heritage, innovation, and long-term artistic endeavours, AlUla aims to position itself as a vibrant global destination for immersive and collaborative residencies.

Fire Station’s Artist in Residence announces Ruwad in Residence 2024

Haifa Alkhuzaei Artwork

Fire Station’s Artist in Residence program announces the commencement of its “Ruwad in Residence” initiative on January 1, 2024, featuring invited artists Haifa Alkhuzaei and Ahmed Al Hamar. Launched in 2021 to support established artists in Qatar, the program connects experienced artists with emerging talents through mentorship, critiques, and public programs, fostering a vibrant exchange of ideas. Khalifa Al Obaidli, Director of Fire Station, emphasises the initiative’s role in facilitating connections and knowledge exchange. Haifa Alkhuzaei, a former Qatari art teacher, and Ahmed Al Hamar, an active participant in exhibitions, joined the residency, engaging with the local community and contributing to the program’s rich artistic dialogue.

Alfan Al Thalith NCCAL’s new platform for public art in Kuwait open call

NCCAL is set to unveil “Alfan Al Thalith,” a platform revolutionising public art creation in Kuwait. The project invites artists to submit mural designs for the “Al Fenn Al-Thalith” initiative, focusing on electrical substations in the “Al-Mesayel” area in collaboration with Mobader Team. With a mission to amplify community engagement and education through art, the initiative aims to cast the public sector in a positive light. The platform simplifies the process for artists, nurturing Kuwait’s local art scene, with NCCAL spearheading public art endeavours. The official launch in early February involves selected substations, artists, the community, and volunteers.

Morocco unforeseeably replaces its Venice Biennale Pavilion

Dropped artists and curators. Image courtesy of Mahi Binebine.

With the 60th Venice Biennale approaching, Morocco has unexpectedly changed its inaugural national pavilion, dropping the initially chosen artists and curators Majida Khatari, Safaa Erruas, and Fatiha Zemouri, and curators Mahi Binebine, Imane Barakat, and Mostafa Aghrib in favour of a new exhibition curated by Paris-based art historian Mouna Mekouar. The decision was revealed on January 15, leaving the initially selected group, which self-funded the project, shocked and disappointed. The Ministry of Culture has not officially confirmed the news or provided reasons for the change. The snubbed artists and curators expressed their dismay, describing it as a significant blow and questioning the institution’s disregard for artists it was supposed to promote. The alternate project details remain scarce.

Lebanese artist Hussein Madi dies at the age of 86

Hussein Madi. Courtesy of Atelier Hussein Madi.

Lebanon lost one of its most recognised artists on Wednesday night. Known as the “Lebanese Picasso,” Hussein Madi passed away at the age of 86. Born in 1938 in Chébaa, South Lebanon, Madi was a painter, sculptor, and engraver. Between 1958 and 1962, he studied painting at the Lebanese Academy of Fine Arts in Beirut before moving to Rome in 1963 to continue his studies at the Accademia di Belle Arti. Originally planning a two-month stay, he ended up remaining in Rome for 22 years. From 1972 to 1987, Madi taught painting at the National Institute of Arts at the Lebanese University. He served as the president of the Lebanese Artists Association from 1982 to 1992. Art critics praised his “creative genius” in blending colours, materials, forms, and messages, navigating between figuration and abstraction, East and West, and incorporating elements of Cubism, Fauvism, and Arabic calligraphy.

Gallerist, artist and prominent art figure Waddah Faris dies at the age of 84

Waddah Faris in 2015 at the Sursock Museum. Photo DR

Renowned Lebanese and regional art figure Waddah Faris, celebrated for his charisma and multifaceted contributions, passed away at 84. Born to an Iraqi diplomat, Faris significantly influenced local, Arab, and global art. Co-founding the Contact art gallery, Faris supported cultural events and artists, transcending acquaintanceship to offer graphic design assistance. His Faris Gallery in Paris (1980) became an international hub for Arab art, showcasing artists at FIAC and Art Basel. Known for preserving negatives, Faris’s unprinted photos inspired the 2017 exhibition, honouring Lebanon’s cultural heritage. Despite residing near Barcelona, his deep connection with Beirut endured, marking the end of a pivotal era in Lebanese and Arab art.

DiGen Art, digital art gallery opens in Beirut

DiGen, Facade at night. Photo Credit Walid Rashid © DiGen Art Gallery

DiGen Art, standing for “Digitally Generated Art,” has inaugurated its gallery in Beirut’s Hamra District, marking Lebanon’s first exclusive space for digital art. With a focus on advancing the digital art movement in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the gallery emphasises research, education, and supporting emerging artists. By celebrating the region’s cultural history, particularly in algorithmic art, DiGen Art aims to integrate MENA into the global digital revolution. The Beirut space transcends traditional gallery functions, serving as both an exhibition space and a dynamic creative hub, fostering experimentation with emerging technologies and hosting engaging events.

Design Space AlUla, the first permanent gallery dedicated to design initiatives opens in  AlUla

Design Space AlUla, Al Jadidah Art District. Photo by RCU, Nicholas Jackson Photography.

Design Space AlUla, set to open in February 2024, emerges as a hub in AlUla, showcasing diverse design initiatives aligning with AlUla’s vision. Nestled in the AlJadidah Arts District, it serves as a collaborative space for design professionals, students, and enthusiasts. The contemporary corten steel, glass, and polished concrete building, designed by Giò Forma Studio, pays homage to the local breezeblock aesthetic. Curated by Sara Ghani, the inaugural exhibition, “Mawrid: Celebrating Inspired Design,” unveils 10 recent AlUla-inspired projects, fostering engagement with design principles and processes. Design Space AlUla aims to amplify the region’s design community’s role in shaping character, quality of life, and the broader economy.

The Inaugural Emirati-led light art festival Dhai Dubai unveils lineup of Emirati artists

Expo City Dubai, in collaboration with AGB Creative and Dubai Culture and Arts Authority, unveils the lineup for the inaugural Dhai Dubai Light Art Festival. Illuminating Dubai for ten nights from January 26 to February 4, the festival features visionary installations by seven accomplished Emirati artists, embodying the city’s spirit through a blend of tradition and contemporary artistry. Artists such as Mattar Bin Lahej, Dr Najat Makki, Dr Mohamed Yousef, Abdulla Almulla, Maitha Hamdan, Khalid Al Shafar, and Reem Al Ghaith contribute not just installations but stories woven in light, reflecting the UAE’s heritage and offering glimpses into the collective future.

Indiana University cancels a retrospective on Palestinian artist Samia Halaby

Samia Halaby. Photo courtesy of the Palestine Museum US.

Indiana University’s Eskenazi Museum of Art abruptly canceled Palestinian artist Samia Halaby’s retrospective, “Centres of Energy,” just before its February 10 opening. The cancellation followed a letter from Rep. Jim Banks threatening federal funding loss due to alleged “antisemitism” concerns. Museum director David Brenneman, who had previously praised Halaby, notified her in a brief letter. The university cited integrity concerns as the reason. Born in Jerusalem in 1936, Halaby, a respected abstract painter and Palestinian art scholar, denounced the cancellation as an infringement on her freedom of expression. An online petition demanding the show’s reinstatement has already garnered nearly 5,000 signatures.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Culture opens applications for ‘Emerging New Media Artists’ educational programme

Diriyah Art Futures is an upcoming New Media Arts institution located in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Photo Credit Mohamed Somji, 2023.

The Saudi Ministry of Culture invites applications for its ‘Emerging New Media Artists’ Programme at the upcoming Diriyah Art Futures (DAF) centre. Geared towards emerging talents from the region and beyond, the initiative grants artists access to advanced equipment, a production budget, and diverse learning opportunities, including mentorship from global digital art experts. Aligned with the Ministry’s collaboration with Diriyah Company, DAF seeks to establish itself as the region’s premier New Media Arts centre, fostering creativity and artistic exploration. The one-year program, developed in partnership with Le Fresnoy – Studio National des Arts Contemporains, supports creative production training, encouraging applications from artists under 35 with expertise in digital and new media arts.

Lamia Joreige selected for the Drawing Prize of the Foundation Daniel et Florence Guerlain

Lamia Joreige. Courtesy of Alexandre Krunzinge

Lamia Joreige has been chosen for the 17th edition of the Drawing Prize of the Fondation Daniel et Florence Guerlain, with her works exhibited at the Salon du Dessin, Palais Brongniart. The laureate announcement will be on March 21 at the Salon du Dessin, where selected artists’ works will be displayed from March 20 to 25, 2024. Founded in 2006, the Drawing Prize focuses on artists emphasising drawing in their works. The three nominees, selected by a committee, must have a cultural link with France. The winner, decided by a jury of collectors, receives €15,000, with €5,000 each for the two runners-up. Joreige’s art, spanning drawing, photography, video, objects, and installations, explores our connections with history and its impact. Her recent series, “Uncertain Times, Faisal’s Dream,” delves into Lebanon’s history during World War I, employing drawing to convey the weight of historical narratives.

Stephanie Saadé selected to be an artist in residence at Centre Pompidou Paris

Stephanie Saadé. Copyright: 200211 B

Stephanie Saadé has been chosen as an artist in residence at Centre Pompidou Paris through the Accélérations program, curated by Michel Gauthier. Sponsored by BNP Parisbas Banque Privée, the 6-month residency includes the production and acquisition of Saadé’s work by Centre Pompidou. Saadé’s artistic language revolves around suggestion, utilising poetics and metaphor. She presents clues, signs, and imageless, sometimes silent trails, akin to the words of a cohesive sentence. Viewers are tasked with deciphering these elements, much like an archaeologist interpreting traces, fossils, and fragments. Saadé’s enigmatic quality often draws from her personal experiences, yet she invokes them universally in her oeuvre.

‘Babel’ by Yves Hayat acquired by the Institut du Monde Arabe, Paris

Yves Hayat, Babel, Institut du Monde Arabe. Courtesy of the Mark Hachem Gallery.

The Mark Hachem Gallery announces the inclusion of Yves Hayat’s artwork, BABEL, in the collection of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. Part of the series “The Confusion of Confessions,” BABEL is a compilation of pages sourced from sacred texts in various languages—a poignant portrayal of beings’ struggle to understand, tolerate, and coexist, profoundly relevant in today’s world. Originally from Egypt, Yves Hayat, shaped by his rich cultural background, pursued art studies in France. While initially venturing into advertising, Hayat’s artistic journey, marked by diverse media and techniques, took precedence in the 1990s. Renowned as a “plasticien,” his works blend modernity with classical influences, exploring human condition and societal nuances. His unique approach incorporates communication-based society imagery, conveying a clear, untortured commentary on our era. Titles like “Business must go on” and “Femmes au bord de la crise de guerre” imbue his works with meaning, offering insight into the pollution of our daily lives and revealing our collective identity. Yves Hayat, a true artist of our time, captures the fascination and ambivalence inherent in human existence.

The Boghossian Foundation organises online benefit auction for Armenia

© Gerard-Schneider

The Boghossian Foundation introduces the online Benefit Auction for Armenia on Artsy, featuring approximately 20 lots by renowned artists like Etel Adnan, Peter Halley, Robert Longo, Gérard Schneider, and Chico da Silva. Amidst the tragic events in Armenia, with over 100,000 displaced people from Artsakh, the foundation intensifies its efforts to aid the country. The auction’s proceeds will contribute to the AGBU Global Relief Fund, facilitating AGBU’s support for refugees in securing essentials like food, housing, and employment for a fresh start. Stand in solidarity with Artsakh refugees by participating in the art auction, elevating the impact of collective action. Online on Artsy from February 15 to 29, 2024.

10th Istanbul Photo Awards Jury Announced

The jury for the 10th Istanbul Photo Awards has been unveiled, featuring figures from the photography world, including winners of prestigious accolades like the Pulitzer and World Press Photo prizes including Carol Guzy, Ami Vitale, Goran Tomasevic, Yuri Kozyrev, Michel Scotto, Cameron Spencer, Marion Mertens, Ahmet Sel and Firat Yurdakul. These panelists will assess and recognise the submissions in various categories, with three winners per category and two special prizes commemorating the contest’s tenth anniversary. The total prize fund for the 10th-year competition amounts to $60,000. Additionally, all first prize winners across categories will receive SONY Alpha A7 III Body cameras. Sponsored by Turkcell, Sony, TIKA, and Turkish Airlines, the contest accepts free applications until Jan. 17, with the jury set to announce winners in April.

1-54 Marrakech 2024 Announces Represented Galleries 

Fondation Montresso – 1-54 Marrakech 2023 – © Adnane Zemmama

The 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair is set to host its fifth edition in Marrakech, featuring 27 galleries with over 80 artists from February 8-11, 2024, at La Mamounia and DaDa. Expanding its footprint, the fair introduces a second location at DaDa, reflecting its remarkable success and commitment to the vibrant Marrakech art scene. This edition welcomes 27 exhibitors, including 14 from Africa, with eight based in Morocco. The diverse lineup, from Paris to Luanda, promises the largest showcase to date, strengthening Marrakech’s position as a hub for contemporary African art.

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