The Bulletin bringing you the latest highlights in the art world
Bassam Freiha Art Foundation to open in Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Cultural District
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
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
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.
The National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia Announces Curators for the Biennale Arte 2024
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
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
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
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
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
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 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, 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
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
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 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 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
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
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
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.