Saturday, 27 December 2008

Randa Ali Ahmad

Randa Ali Ahmad
exhibition: The Crisis
at the Phoenicia hotel annex Beirut, Lebanon
until 30 dec 08

The Lebanese artist has an eye for using raw spaces in her exhibits with a concrete wall, holes and wires all apparent. Randa Ali Ahmad has given the public a view of her latest artwork on canvas with acrylic and textures. She has chosen to express herself on the financial crisis of autumn 08. With a red line as a matrix, she has painted portraits of men in 30 canvas in different aspects of what she believes is hope after the money boom and crash.
The first room has men in suits and a tie as a symbol of responsibility and yellow as close as a rope for hanging can get. They have no eyes. They are looking away. The second room a money painting and hundred dollar bills. Men have expressions, they show a variety of poses on human potentials. The last room the explosion of emotion with contractions, ease, speed, fear, pride...
The element of hope she tried to inject in that crisis is surely the human side to the cold, ruthless power of coins and money.
It is ready for your interpretation and your understanding.

Friday, 19 December 2008

Yann Arthus Bertrand
Books and exhibtions around the world

If you take the plane out of an arab country to some exotic destination, in day time, seated in a back row where your view is not obstructed by a wing, grab the time to look out your window after eating and watching the latest Angelina Jolie movie.
Beauty of Earth at its most elegant and expressive perfection will unfold. Sea, deserts, hills, mountains, cities, more desert, rivers, greenery, sand...
In its detailed evolution, earth has given us the foundation of color (imagine the infinity of variation of one shade along the movement of the sun and light), textures (touch with your senses the diversity of the minute grain to the immensity of a sand desert) vibes (it vibrates to what you can see in your minuscule eye and to what your infinite soul can perceive).
When seen from above, how small humans can be and how vast is the space provided to enjoy..
It might be a dry image but it can also pull you to the warmth of the land, the closeness of the dunes, the fertility of the soil, the multitude of the animal world, the geometry of man kind and the surprises given to those who can see.
Yann Arthus Bertrand is a photographer who flies in helicopters with his camera and awaits to be taken by the aesthetics of earth. He became the icon of photos from above.
He understands what lies under our feet and we are blinded by details of what humans can construct and be proud of.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Picasso and the masters of art
Grand Palais, Paris, France
until feb 2, 2009

Fascinating exhibition to be seen if in Paris. Art in its glory where a painter of the 20th century recognizes the work of his predecessors and has moved on to become a master himself. He says: "there is no past or future in art". In confronting the old works, he puts himself in constant evolution of the expression of his art. He defies the present by pushing further the barriers of the known.
When visiting an exhibition of children's art, he says: " When I was their age, I used to paint like Raphael, it took me a life time to paint like them".
"An artist atelier has to be a laboratory, we are not doing monkey's work, we are inventing. Painting is a mind game." he believes while breaking away from academic procedures. 

In the Grand Palais, in rooms with themes: the nude, self portrait, still lifes... the delicate presentation of El Greco, Picasso, Velasquez, Picasso, Manet, Picasso etc... gives the sensation of a ballet on a stage where time and history has vanished. A Pause on the race of yesterday and tomorrow with a dialogue now of esthetics, beauty, pain, love, deconstruction, cubism...
and specially what each painter had the courage to express.

("Le matador saluant" by Manet, "Matador" by Picasso)

Friday, 5 December 2008

"Memoires d'Arabie"
Historical pictures of Kuwait and the Gulf
until dec 14th at the Kuwait Arts Association
sponsored by the French Embassy

A rare photo exhibition of Arabia in the early 20th century is displayed to understand more about the way of life in the old days. 180 black and white argentic images show places: cities, forts, ports, desert, the people: laymen in ordinary cloths and rulers in elaborate or refined costumes and their lives: riding horses, camels, building boats, carrying water or goods, dancing...
It took three years to gather these images from the region and abroad, according to the curator, Pascal D Gueyle, who lived in the UAE for more than ten years. He collected the visuals for a book co-authored by Munira Khemir and for this rotating exhibition in the gulf that started in Qatar, Yemen and will move next to the UAE.
Culture here is about the oral tradition through songs, music and stories told by elders. Pre-oil era was rich and vibrant.
Although historical preservation of old heritage seems to be a difficult process today as deleting the past to erect new makes economical sense. History, in its glory, pride and simplicity, should be showed to young generations who could connect with their past. It is as important as the monument buildings in the skyline or the malls competing in size as temples of shopping.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Tahir Sultan at Dar al Funoon, Kuwait, fashion exhibit: 2, 3, 4th of dec 08

Fashion is art and certainly culture in this part of the world. Tahir, full of energy, expanded his creativity and his desire to play with fabric, knits, embroidery, colors. He gives a full show of his capacity and the potential of his work. The theatrical outfits have gone beyond the usual local production.
Dresses and coats are manufactured in India where Tahir decided to contribute and use the artisans of some NGOs working on sustainability and helping improve poverty and disabilities. Fashionistas can now feel good about spending without compromise on quality and elegance.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Traffic Quintet
At Dar al Athar, Kuwait, 1/12/08

A concert presented by the French Embassy of Kuwait. String musicians around the idea of integrating live music with a video screen in the hope of a non-typical performance. Their aim is to combine contemporary art and music from classical French movies.

At some point one could watch the screen more than listen to music. At other points, the music was powerfully present. Along the videos, the themes were all starting from a moving target: a car on a dark road, motorcycles with head lights on, a walk through the gates of a large garden, water splashing on a statue, smoke from a large fire, a Japanese empty bus with wipers on. Music followed closely the movement, accompanied the effects. Or could it have been the reverse: cameras tried to visualize the music and become part of the show?
References of the arts, titles, videos were not easily grasped by non-initiated, but the performance was enjoyable and of quality.