Friday, 27 March 2009


In the new Al Sabah design and art space, on the second floor, "the souk", between dresses, sandals and other furniture, was an interesting sculpture.
The crushed Bicycle
(the footnote says: This piece, by Indian artist Kiran Varia, once has a life bustling along traffic in Mumbai. The crushed bicycle now contained in the rigid shape of a display case demonstrates questions about art and where it can be found).

These same questions where asked by the french Artist Cesar and his compression period in the early 60's along his full work as a sculptor, painter etc.. Cesar was fascinated by the elements of life and incorporated them. He went to junk yards, used material and saw in action hydraulic crushing machines. He experimented with cars to cans, jewelry etc..
He was part of the 60's movement "Les nouveaux realistes" who found inspiration in urban life. It came along the same time as the Pop Art movement of New York. According to Pierre Restang, member of "les nouveaux realistes" : "appropriation of reality as a poetic recycling of urban, industrial and advertising reality".
In the Arab world, a giant sculpture by Cesar showing piled tanks with concrete sealer can be seen in Lebanon, Fayadiyeh, Ministry of Defense's entrance as a tribute to the many wars in the country.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

new artspace in Kuwait

“Many people think artists are slightly crazy. But the fact is, they are normal, surrounded by insane lunatics who are constantly at war with one another.”

Admir Jahic

The title is: "you tube- Broadacst yourself! Meets Middle eastern Pop Icons" by Cormenius Roethlisberger and Admir Jahic.
The exhibition is proudly presented by the Al Sabah Art &Design in conjuncture with Kuwait Art Foundation at the Corniche club until the 9th of April 09.
On the invitation was written: "The resulting collection is both distressing and humorous in its ability to highlight our often-conditioned predilection of Arabian stardom."
what a program!
distressing: surely! as this type of art, presented in Maimi art basel Fair and in prestigious galleries of New York and Switzerland, is way beyond what is usually presented in the local scene.
Thank you Sheikh Majed for bringing over destabilizing and not easily understood art. The challenge will be: more homework and eventually get it...

Saturday, 21 March 2009

street art

In Kuwait, on run down walls and hard to find places, some street artists are claiming the void and voicing their artistic talent through spray paint cans.
This movement is not for or against culture, under or beside galleries diktats. It is within art, within the process of visually exposing colors, words, figures; sharing it with a wide public, signing it with a full name or just an acronym for anonymity.
It all started in the pre-historic caves where men painted on walls. In the arab world, graffiti can be dated from the pre-Islamic era, where travelers carved their names or symbols in Musnad, the language of the time, on huge rocks in the deserts of Arabia.
In the mid 70's in New York subways, when gangs fought, tags and graffiti popped up and transformed the city. In the 80's, Europe began to see the explosion of street art with stencils, molds, pictures, videos, mosaics, etching on glass, walls, sidewalks etc.
From the simple name signature, it has evolved, with time, into a new pictorial dimension. The thrill of the unauthorized comes with pleasure of being seen at a large scale. Disturbing the usual visual scene, artists can experiment at ease.
"The canvas was never a surface for expression for arabs" said Nedim Kufi during his exhibition in Kuwait. He felt that the paper was a natural traditional tool.
Can walls be the fundamental instrument to expression?
Will the artists find enough guts to integrate the spray cans into their own identity and come out with local version of street art?

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Nadem al Kufi

At the Sultan Gallery, Kuwait, Nedim Kufi presents his works: Follow the moon.
It surely takes a very progressive sense of aestheticism and purity to attain his level of art work. Do you follow the moon, does the moon follow you...
In his intricate researches, he confronted the canvas, installations, online works, writings, graphic illustrations, organic material. He won an award in Holland, where he lives, that allowed him to explore new geographical art centers. He opted to travel to Thailand and has found the Asian version of art. He says that he feels much closer to the paper than the canvas. Or did he try this time to reproduce paper texture on canvas? In his search of the self, he experiences the bridging, openness and acceptance between his arab origins, his dutch fascination and the third dimension of global interaction.
His work allowed him to synthesize integration of many layers. Through his own process, the quest is still on, with the subtlety of the moon in the sky...

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

kecha pucha

And you would have to pronounce it right... kechapucha was organised in Kuwait for the first time under Dr Asseel alRagam, assistant professor at the architecture departement of Kuwait University. She said she had experienced similar activities during her graduate work and wanted to establish it in the Deera.
Well done Dr Asseel, it is now launched, audience was packed full, all were silent to see the 20 photos each in 20 seconds, to listen to ideas of each presenter. The choice of presenters was excellent. Diversity of backgrounds, difference of opinions, products, arts, design, creativity, questioning, linking the past to the future, comparing to other cultures, bringing out similarities. Ideas were thrown at the public and it needs time to process.
Each in his own way and his own capacity to address a crowd, talked and defended his idea in 6min40, threw in some humor, some dramatic tension, some blank space because he talked too fast and the slide will take 20 seconds to get to the other one...
For example:
May al Naquib started with a philosopher Gilles Deleuze who said people are missing, people no longer exist. She longs for the memory, the past and wonders were are all the subtile things not available today.
Thomas Modeen takes an active part and plans a manifesto with eight part as guidelines to set stage and make Kuwait the design center of the region.
Khalid al Hamad, young student wanted to justify simplicity in his approach and how it involves a lot of complexity.
Waleed Shalaan offered in visual impact a comparison between fashion architecture bling bling, economical crisis and eventually the need to go back to basics and do what kuwait has always done: green eco friendly buildings where people live in, rather than dancing towers or burj looking at the end of the desert.
Ghada al Kandari, artist, showed her in work in progress on a drawing. She stated clearly what she likes and what she dislikes. In the earnest manner, she interpreted the evolution of the drawing, gave names to the subjects, a role, an emotional life, pain, concern, curiosity, objects had a symbolism. She then pushed her story to the ultimate end and made each part fade in the darkness and the death of it all.
Lubna Abbas introduced the need to acknowledge craftsmanship, skills and repetition in the work to produce quality. She works on beads, ancient stitches and embroidery for necklaces. She has a full reflection on her work and how a simple ornamentation made her believe that :"if you allow the craft, it will open up the dream."
and a few more...

The standard was set high tonight, promises of three more kechapucha this year and the public will become fans. They are thirsty for more.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Arabesque Washington Dc

Theatre, music, dance, installations, art, poetry, discussions ... all in the Kennedy center in Washington Dc until the 15th of march as the festival of Arts of the Arab World.
The Slaiman al Bassam's troup performed their interpretation of Richard the third, with an arab twist and modernity to the classic. In arabic, with translation, the play is full of several levels of understanding and full of surprises: politics, leadership, religion, foreign intervention... It has been shown three nights in Kuwait and has been touring around the world from Paris to Damsacus and after the US to Sharjah and al Ain UAE. It takes a lot of audacity to speak out in covered words a full description of the waters that runs deep. It takes style to do it well and present it with eloquence, dramatic settings, costumes...
They came back with a sense of satisfaction, sold out for the two nights.

Could we hope to see it in Kuwait for as many nights as it was shown outside Kuwait?

Saturday, 7 March 2009

young talents

Starbucks in Kuwait is promoting art, and music in four of their 63 locations. Young artists can exhibit and sell their works free of charge in a rotating scheme.
This could be a first step for a widening and popular need for arts, expressions, venues to show it all.
It is the time to show talents and for talents to go ahead and project their works.

Will Alshaya company be the new patron of arts in the middle east? Will they widen their program to the so many other retail locations they have?
Or will they just look at the numbers and see if this increases or stagnate their sales and decide accordingly if art is worth the effort?
While it lasts, talents, please, jump on the wagon and enjoy the ride.. it can be a good opportunity to interact with your creativity. and on your way out, buy a cafe latte half skimmed, half full, decaf and low on the foam barrista.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Theatre in Prison

"Twelve angry Lebanese Men" a classic play in theatre, movies, organizational behavior studies, drama therapy... directed by Zeina Daccache, to perform in the known prison of Roumiyeh Lebanon. Actors are prisoners themselves that have been selected from different nationalities.
A year ago, Roumiyeh was in the news for a mutiny and crack down by force. Today, Roumiyeh has the buzz of the place to see. Can you get tickets for the latest play? overbooked? How can you get in there?
The choice of the play is quite significant: "as inmates questioned the country's judicial system, talked about prison conditions and told personal tales through their adaptation of Twelve Angry Men, a play by Reginald Rose in which a jury of 12 men meets to decide the fate of a boy who is accused of murder" (BBC)
Every sat from feb 7th to mid March. A thrilling experience worth the effort. An invitation to allow small changes that might question the status quo and improve level of human expression.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

dar al Funoon

Dar al Funoon is hosting this week an exhibition with the collaboration of Gallerie Janine Rebeiz, Beirut, Lebanon under the patronage of its owner Ms Nadine Begdache.
Etel Adnan says: "Abstract art was the equivalent of poetic expression; I didn't need to use words, but colors and lines. I didn't need to belong to a language-oriented culture but to an open form of expression."
Huguette Caland, born in 1931, with a rich past of collaboration with fashion, textiles.
Intw with Ricardo Karam in arabic:
Bassam Geitani: textures, abstractions, his work has been acquired by the British Museum (Asia dept). This must put him on the front row of recognition by experts..
Mansour el Habre: experimentation and work in progress

Sunday, 1 March 2009


22/02/09 Beirut, Lebanon witnessed another type of public sit in to protest against violations of the rights of social minorities in Lebanon. The defense of the homosexual community clearly dominated the event, organized at the initiative of the association Helem.

The event, the first of its kind in the Arab world according to the organizers, was staged by the Beirut-based Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer (LGBTIQ) support organization Helem.
"This protest came as a response for an incident which took place at Sassine square: almost a month ago, a few persons attacked two men publicly and beat them savagely, punching, kicking and even using sticks until bloodshed, because they were allegedly caught in a suspicious intimate situation in a building under construction."

Could this protest lead to any changes in the mentalities and Arab culture? Is it just a way for LGBTIQ's to express themselves in the open and thrive to be accepted in an environment that can barely tolerate political or religious differences, let alone sexual ones? right to having