DUBAI: From Andy Warhol’s depiction of Queen Elizabeth II to works from one of Italy’s greatest artists, Sotheby’s Dubai is opening its doors from Sept. 26-29 with an exhibition that showcases the spectrum of the auction house’s international offerings.
Visitors to Dubai’s DIFC area will be able to view masterpieces of contemporary art, glittering jewels and coveted watches. The pieces will then travel to New York and Geneva to be auctioned.
For the first time, Sotheby’s Dubai will showcase a work from the major Contemporary Art auctions in New York, which take place biannually in May and November and set the benchmark for the global art market. The work on display will be a six-meter-wide masterpiece by artist Alighiero Boetti, one of the most important Italian artists of the 20th century.
This work is the most important in a series that spanned two decades, titled “Mappa” (Maps). Crafted in Kabul, Afghanistan, and then Peshawar, Pakistan, by Afghan embroiderers, the work features along its upper and lower borders, in Italian and English, woven text, which reads: “Made in Peshawar Pakistan by Afghan people in 1989 and 90 and 91.”
Also on display will be a private collection of Warhol’s most legendary prints, including vibrant depictions of Queen Elizabeth II and Muhammad Ali. The source image for the Queen Elizabeth II prints is the official photographic portrait taken in The Queen’s Silver Jubilee year.
Sotheby’s Dubai will also showcase rare Egyptian-themed jewels by legendary Italian jewelry house Castellani and the renowned designs of Louis Comfort Tiffany for Tiffany & Co, to celebrate 100 years since the discovery of King Tutankhamen’s tomb.
Alongside these masterpieces, rare jewels and watches from the likes of Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, Rolex, Vacheron Constantin, Breguet and F.P. Journe will also be on display.
A second exhibition will follow in October, bringing together rare historic objects from the Islamic world and modern and contemporary paintings and sculptures by artists from the Middle East.
DUBAI: Even 22 years on from her untimely passing, few stars in the history of Arab cinema captivate the cultural imagination quite like Soad Hosny. The singer and actress known as “The Cinderella of Egyptian cinema” was a key part of the rise of her country’s movie culture, starring in a number of the most popular Arab films of the Sixties and Seventies, working with greats including Omar Sharif and director Youssef Chahine.
But Hosny’s enduring popularity is due to something more than just her talent. As brilliant as she was an artist, it was her bewitching personality — both familiar and always out of reach — that even those who knew her are still attempting to figure out to this day.
“It was like she was split into two different personalities, and you could always see both on her face” famed Egyptian designer Karim Mekhtigian — who knew Hosny from his early childhood, being the nephew of her close friend and frequent collaborator, producer Takfour Antonian — tells Arab News.
“Either in life or in film, Soad’s face could convey opposing feelings simultaneously. It was genuinely remarkable. One eye (could be) full of sadness, the other radiating happiness. She was never one thing. That’s part of what made her talent so remarkable,” he continues.
For Hosny herself, the fact that she took such varying roles over the decades in which she dominated Egyptian cinema while also topping its music charts was simply because she could not force herself to stay in any one mode for too long, growing restless if she felt stagnant creatively.
“By nature, I am bored,” Hosny said in an Egyptian television interview in 1984. “I do not wish to repeat the same thing. I can make political films; I can make entertaining films. Every film will present something new. I can play the naughty girl or the innocent wife. I am always looking to play different personalities. Each character I play has an atmosphere I can present. I want to play women in all their many facets.”
Like many of her contemporaries, part of what made Hosny so suited to the career she chose was the fact that she grew up in an intensely artistic household, led by her father, the famed Islamic calligrapher Mohammad Hosny — a Kurdish artist who had settled in Egypt at the age of 19.
Young Soad, the daughter of her father’s second wife, grew up among 16 siblings and half-siblings, with numerous luminaries of the Arab world’s artistic community shuffling in and out of their home. Each of the children were affected by those interactions in different ways. Her sister Nagat, for example, also became an actress and singer, while her half-brother Ezz composed music for decades. Others played instruments or pursued fine arts, but none reached the heights of their sister Soad.
While that environment was far from a formal means of preparation for a life in the arts, it was, ultimately, all that Hosny needed.
“I came into film unadulterated,” she said in an interview with Qatar TV in 1972, shortly after her career defining hit “Watch Out for ZouZou,” Hassan El-Imam’s classic film about a student who falls in love with her professor. “I did not enter an institute, or anything like that. I never took a lesson.”
Hosny entered the film world early. Her debut, “Hassan and Nayima” (1959) began shooting when she was just 15. Throughout the Sixties, Hosny starred in hit after hit opposite top stars Omar Sharif, Salah Zulfikar and Rushdy Abaza, among others, finally collaborating with Egypt’s top director Youssef Chahine in 1970 with “The Choice,” by which time she had developed from a key collaborator with the film world’s biggest stars to the main draw in her own right.
“Every film I have worked on gave me more education; every experience has taught me lessons. ‘ZouZou,’ for example, was a huge success and people loved it, and if I am to continue on from that success, I don’t need to take lessons in schools to do that,” Hosny told Qatar TV in that same interview.
As the years went on, Hosny pushed for roles that would help define not only who Egyptian women were, but who they could be — pushing boundaries with overtly political films as well as biting satire that deliberately gave voice to the voiceless in Egyptian society, a move that made her a thought leader as well as a beloved cultural figure.
“I love playing the modern girl of Egypt, and expressing her problems, the environment in which she lives, and her psyche. I want to play her hopes, her ambitions, her ideas, and dreams. I want to explore what it means for us to love Egypt, and express all that that means,” she said in 1972.
Hosny was a symbol of Egyptian femininity for many, something that current Egyptian superstar Mona Zaki struggled to embody when playing her in the 2006 TV series about Hosny’s life, “Cinderella,” written by acclaimed Egyptian screenwriter Tamer Habib.
“Soad Hosny was so feminine both in appearance and substance, while I’m a tomboy. I could play Hosny’s character only after much searching. I built a new relationship with my femininity after this series,” Zaki told Vogue in 2021.
“Long before I wrote the series, I had always been fascinated by her. She was always my dream collaborator—no one could compare to Soad Hosny,” Habib tells Arab News.
Hosny’s peak lasted for more than two decades. But by the late Eighties she was struggling with illness, ultimately retiring from acting in 1991 at just 48.
Though she stepped away from the screen, Hosny never left the public eye. When she died in June 2001, tragically falling from the balcony of her friend Nadia Yousri’s apartment in London, England, it confounded and saddened all of Egypt, with her funeral attracting 10,000 mourners. Theories as to the exact circumstances of her death still circulate today.
Despite the enduring love Hosny has inspired over the 63 years since she first debuted on the screen, those closest to her still feel that she is misunderstood and underappreciated.
“Soad was incredibly talented. She had the ability to perfectly play any role whether it is comedic or tragic. She had charisma and charm. Yet, she was unappreciated and died alone,” actor and friend Hassan Youssef told Egypt Today in 2018.
While the mere fact that interest has never faded from her life or work seems to disprove his blanket statement that Hosny was unappreciated, there is perhaps a kernel of truth in his words. After all, is it even possible to fully appreciate the nuances and variety of a life and career such as Soad Hosny’s?
DUBAI: Highlights from several upcoming sales at Christie’s London — predominantly the Middle East Sale taking place from 15-19 October — reveal a diverse range of art not limited to the Middle Eastern region.
From an intricately painted 2016 diptych (“The Interpreter”) by US-based Iraqi artist Hayv Kahraman to Palestinian artist Hazem Harb’s satirical “Hollyland,” which layers acrylic lettering in the style of Hollywood’s famous sign over an archival photograph of Jerusalem, through the late Iranian artist Monir Farmanfarmaian’s mirrored disco ball sculpture from the 1970s, and even British painter L.S. Lowry’s iconic 1953 work “Going to the Match,” displayed in honor of the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar, highlights displayed in an exhibition at Christie’s showroom in Dubai until September 24 include masterpieces of modern Arab and Iranian art, as well as works by eminent artists form the African continent including El Anatsui and the emotive paintings of Lynette Yiadom-Boakye — underlining growing regional interest in art from Africa.
The exhibition is the first curated by Christie’s new management in the region.
“Creating and expanding a global platform for the appreciation and sale of artworks from the Middle East has been a key objective for Christie’s since 2005, and we are bringing some stellar sale highlights to the region,” said the new deputy chairman of Christie’s Middle East, Dr. Ridha Moumni, in a statement.
“We have clients that purchase so differently that creating a Middle Eastern art sale is challenging; we don’t want to be replicating works from before and want to provide an offering that shows what clients want to purchase now,” Meagan Kelly Horsman, the new regional managing director, told Arab News.
A case in point would be Saudi artist Ahmed Mater’s famous “Evolution of Man” (2010), which examines the Kingdom’s rapid growth since the discovery of oil in 1938. It is expected to sell for between $28-35,000.
There’s also “Angelus II-1” a poignant abstract work from 2017, consisting of a series of colorful crisscrossing lines by the late Palestinian painter and art historian Kamal Boullata, estimated at $28-40,000, as well as a rare piece by Iraqi painter Dia Azzawi — 1970’s “Colored Letters” — estimated at $34-45,000.
One of the most expensive works on show is “Broken Land” (2015) by New York-based Iranian painter Ali Banisadr. Constructed in his signature rhythmic, abstract style, an intense sense of motion — and emotion — is immediately conveyed by his sea of figures and objects in scenes hardly recognizable to the viewer.
Among the African works on display is Ibrahim El-Salahi’s “The Tree” (2003) — an abstract geometric composition that is part of a series referencing the Haraz tree native to his homeland of Sudan. Born in Sudan in 1930, El-Salahi is one of the most important living African artists and a central figure in the development of African Modernism. His work is currently being shown in the main exhibition of “The Milk of Dreams” at the 59th Venice Biennale.
There’s also a 1997 image by Nigerian photographer Samuel Fosso called “The Chief: The One Who Sold Africa To The Colonists,” estimated at $17-23,000, and from Robert Devereux’s Sina Jina Collection there’s El Anatsui’s 2002 acrylic on carved woodwork “Drying Line” (estimated at £68-91,000) and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s “Magic” (2007), a series of three oil paintings going for $171-228,000.
“Devereux is known as an early supporter of African art and his collection showcases a broad offering of art from the continent,” Isabel Miller, a specialist in post-war and contemporary art at Christie’s London, told Arab News.
Devereux’s collection, which is the largest single owner collection of African contemporary art to come to the market, will be sold in a single-owner sale on Oct 13 in London.
“Collecting tastes in the region are more international now than regional,” said Suzy Sikorski, a specialist at Christie’s Middle East. “Even collectors that originally started collecting from this region are now branching out into African and international art.”
DOHA: Qatar Museums will collaborate with the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in a partnership involving the exchange of exhibitions, programs and scholarly cooperation, Qatar News Agency reported on Wednesday.
Qatar Museums has made a donation to the prestigious New York museum to commemorate the reopening of Qatar’s reimagined Museum of Islamic Art and the 10th anniversary of the Met’s opening of renovated Islamic art department galleries.
In turn, the Met’s art collection from the Umayyad and Abbasid periods has been named the Qatar Gallery.
Under the Abbasid caliphate (750–1258), which succeeded the Umayyads (661–750), the focal point of Islamic political and cultural life shifted eastward from Syria to Iraq.
As part of the collaboration, Qatar Museums has loaned works from its collections to the Met for exhibitions such as “Jerusalem in the Middle Ages” (2016), “Sultans of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy” (2015), “The Great Age of the Seljuks” (2016), and “Monumental Journey: Girault de Prangey’s Daguerreotypes” (2016).
Works from the Met’s collection will be on display in Doha from Oct. 26 in a special exhibition at the newly renovated Museum of Islamic Art. The exhibition, “Baghdad: Eyes Delight,” focuses on the art of the Abbasid period, one of two classical eras featured in the Met’s Qatar Gallery.
“The establishment of the Qatar Gallery at the Metropolitan Museum of Art highlights the collegiality between our institutions and our desire to advance a crucial goal we hold in common, to heighten appreciation everywhere for the art of the Islamic world,” Sheikha Al-Mayassa bint Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Qatar Museums’ chairperson, said.
“We are proud to come together with the Met to honor the beauty, depth and variety of a global tradition that spans 14 centuries,” Al-Thani added.
Max Hollein, director of the Met, said: “This gift is the latest instance of the longstanding relationship between our institutions, and marks the start of a broad partnership encompassing the exchange of exhibitions, programs and scholarly cooperation.
“This critical support is especially meaningful as we mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Met’s renovated Islamic art department galleries, which continue to be a source of great interest and inspiration for our millions of yearly visitors.”
The collaboration between the cultural institutions contributes to Qatar Museum’s mission of sharing art and culture from Qatar and the region with the rest of the world.
It is also a legacy project of Qatar Museums’ 2021 Year of Culture program, which celebrated the strong ties between Qatar and the US through a year-long cultural exchange.
Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani attended the launch ceremony held at the Met to celebrate the partnership with Qatar Museums.
He toured the museum, including the Qatar Gallery with its Islamic manuscripts and artwork.
DUBAI: A debutant filmmaker is using the metaverse as a platform to share the harrowing story of the 2020 Beirut port blast and its aftermath.
Fahed Abu Salah, who witnessed the tragedy first hand, told Arab News: “I saw the whole thing and all the damage and confusion that happened on that day. No one understood what was going on; it was such a shock for everyone.”
At least 218 people were killed when ammonium nitrate stored at a port facility in the Lebanese capital exploded on Aug. 4, 2020. The deadly blast caused $15 billion in property damage and left an estimated 300,000 people homeless.
Abu Salah’s documentary “Beirut After the Blast” held its metaverse premiere in Dubai at the Waldorf Astoria DIFC this month ahead of its release online. It is now available to stream on the MContent app, one of the first Watch2earn content ecosystems and proponents of Web3 cinema.
“This is a next-generation platform for cinema, I totally believe in it. The app has amazing plug-ins and they provided technical support for everything we asked for,” Abu Salah said.
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Umair Masoom, MContent founder and CEO, said in a statement: “One of the key strengths of a Web3 content company and streamer like MContent is our ability to pick up any story that our community wants to shed light on despite any power center disliking the underlying narrative. This premiere further highlights the unique independence of our content empowering filmmakers like Fahed with limited resources to create and widely distribute an incredibly important story.”
Before the explosions, Abu Salah was already dabbling in short videos online, but “Beirut After the Blast” is his first full-length documentary.
“I had two goals when I made the documentary. First of all, I didn’t want anyone to forget what happened. I wanted everything that happened to be documented properly, so people can watch over and over again and more people can know this story,” he said.
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“Second, people are suffering as we speak. They want answers and they want closure. Nobody even knows how many people really died. I wanted to look for answers.”
Making the documentary was no walk in the park either. “I had a lot of challenges. Since the explosion is an ongoing investigation, it was hard to get statements from people who are close to the investigation. A lot of the victims also refused to talk because they didn’t want to really remember what happened that day because of the trauma.”
He added: “We were shooting really close to the date of the memorial of the blast, so it was chaotic. There were a lot of protests as we tried to cover everything on that day and that was the closure of the shoot as well. It was hard to get a statement. It was hard to shoot.”
DUBAI: This week, performers from the British dance company Candoco took to the stage at The Arts Center of NYU Abu Dhabi with the support of luxury French jewelry brand Van Cleef & Arpels.
Featuring both abled and disabled dancers, the performances for the UAE premiers of “Set and Reset/Reset” and “Last Shelter,” choreographed by Trisha Brown and Jeanine Durning, transcended perceptions of what dance can be.
“Candoco’s work expands the vocabulary of contemporary dance for performers with different ways of moving, including the integration of people of determination,” Executive Artistic Director at The Arts Center at NYUAD Bill Bragin told Arab News. “Introducing UAE audiences to Candoco and their work builds on conversations around dance and disability that began in The Arts Center’s first season with Aakash Odedra Company.”
The performance was the first in a series presented for the first time with the support of Dance Reflections by Van Cleef & Arpels, a program launched by the high jewelry house during the fall of 2020 to strengthen its commitment to the arts with a special focus on dance.
Van Cleef & Arpels has been a devotee of dance since its establishment in 1895. Those familiar with the French jewelry brand will recall its enrapturing bejeweled brooches of ballerinas inspired by some of the leading dancers of the 20th century, including New York City Ballet principal Suzanne Farrell and Russian Anna Pavlova. Claude and Pierre Arpels were friends of George Balanchine, the Russian-born American ballet choreographer who was one of the last century’s most influential dancers. When Balanchine’s 1967 ballet “Jewels” premiered in New York City, some reporters at the time said that Claude Arpels suggested the idea of a ballet inspired by jewels to Balanchine.
The brand’s patronage of dance since the fall of 2020 has focused predominantly on a modern and contemporary choreographic repertoire, encouraging new dance productions by companies around the world.
At the helm of Dance Reflections is Van Cleef & Arpels’ Director of Dance and Culture Serge Laurent, who previously worked at the Centre Pompidou and the Fondation Cartier. He studied at the École du Louvre in Paris.
“The first idea was to continue writing the story of the maison and its strong connection with dance as a source of inspiration,” Laurent told Arab News. “We are a company that is anchored in tradition but also very interested in new forms.”
The luxury brand’s support of and investment in dance was also a way to give back to the art form and to communities around the world.
“Dance brings all the artistic disciplines together: It can incorporate music, the plastic arts, costume, lighting, set design, graphic design and even jewelry,” Laurent said in a statement. “It is a fascinating art form and an incredible field of expression. That is why it can appeal to such a wide audience. I’d like to encourage spectators to admire the works freely, with no preconceptions.”
Van Cleef & Arpels’ new patronage of dance in the UAE comes at a time when the region’s dance scene is rising but still in great need of support — something that Bragin and The Arts Center at NYUAD are actively championing.
“The Arts Center has aimed to build an audience for contemporary dance in the UAE, giving exposure to world-class companies, providing training for local artists, and opening the doors for larger conversations through the art form of dance,” said Bragin. “The new partnership with Dance Reflection by Van Cleef & Arpels is especially meaningful since it recognizes the singular role The Arts Center has played in growing the dance ecosystem in the country through presentation, commissioning, transmission, and education. Van Cleef & Arpels have a century-long history of supporting the art form and being inspired by it. The combination of our visions together seems so organic.”