Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Thierry Titi Robin Trio in Kuwait

At the Shamiyah theatre, the Titi Robin Trio performed as the last event for the "Francophonie" month in Kuwait.
Delightful music!
Thierry Robin started as a gypsy guitarist in his carrier, then went off the world to live interactive music, and play with other music. His latest album is about his journey in India, Turkey and Morocco. On stage, he uses his classic guitar, puts it down, takes a bouzouk, changes repertoire and continues on the Oud. Francis Varis on the accordion gave a pleasant wind sound to the guitar. ZE Luis Nascimento, on percussion, gave depth and beat that rounded the whole performance.
It was a good show, though the French flavor was more in the fusion and openness to different cultures.

"Excerpts from his website:
"When words fail, music raises its voice,” Vladimir Jankelevich used to claim. Titi Robin’s music expresses what words often have difficulty capturing: it speaks of the extreme solitude of the soul, the naked truth of heartfelt emotions, the delicate grandeur of love, the tough but necessary process of learning how to live one’s life, and the fierce sensation, occasionally tinged with violence, that the beauty of the world can stir in each and every one of us.
For over thirty years, this restless musician has swum at the confluence of gypsy and Arab cultures. He has surfed the impetuous and majestic poetic wave that flows from the foothills of India through Central Asia down to the banks of the Mediterranean in every direction. But it is impossible to reduce his art to a simple desire to blend sounds and styles, less still to an ambition to concoct an acceptable style of world music."

Titi Robin's website link

Monday, 28 March 2011

United states of Palestine / Khalil Rabah in Kuwait/ gorilla style

Art in an unusual venue. Not in a gallery, not in an art fair. This installation, by Khalil Rabah, will be part of the World Travel Expo, Kuwait 2011, Mishref, international fair grounds, from Tuesday 29th march 2011 to April 1st from 10 am to 1pm, and 5 to 9 pm. 
The travel expo has a clear mission : "Unlock the business potential, bringing exhibitors with tour operators, leisure buyers and the industry's most influential meetings, incentive and corporate buyers".
So tour operators, travel agents and the industry's who's who, have all scheduled to be at the trade fair, see what's new and mingle with potential clients. 
Then they'll walk up to booth A6 and read: United States of Palestine Airlines. It looks real.
They'll react. 
What is it?
Who's airlines?
Where does it fly to?
Is it a joke?

Now that is art! In the most unexpected, in the least predicted manner, the viewer will take a second to pause, or not.
Gorilla art, street art, art for the people.
Art away from collectors and fancy, flashy, posh connoisseurs.
Art that triggers a series of questions, unsettle our routine and conventions, surprises us.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Art fundraising for Japan on facebook

facebook link

The earthquake and tsunami in Japan is an open wound for humanity. It is a humbling phenomena that puts back in scale the magnitude in which planet earth reacts to its natural course, and how humans are just a drop of nothingness in their own ego driven self centered activities.

In Los Angeles, USA, a city that lives under the threat of earthquakes, a group of artists on Melrose Street are calling on facebook for a art fundraising effort and all proceeds will be donated to relief in Japan.

In the Arab world, we are prone to man made violence: wars, revolutions, brutality, dictatorships, repression etc.  Artists often participate in efforts for war relief. In Kuwait, we have seen auctions for the 2006 war in Lebanon, we see art fundraising charities for children's hospice. and this list can go on. Artists in the region can barely know where to turn their heads to!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Treasures of the world - in Kuwait at the Americani Cultural Center

Sneak preview: "Treasures of the world" objects, jewellery, daggers, metal works, rock crystals fromt he Mughal Period are displayed at the new "Americani Cultural Center" in Kuwait. It will open its doors to the public in May 2011. The exhibition has been touring the world for the past decade, from Moscow at the Kremlin to St Petersburg at the Hermitage, to Paris at the Louvre and the list is long... 
It is clearly explained that this not a museum but a temporary exhibition.
The Center is the old American Hospital of Kuwait that started its activities in the early 1930's and was closed when Kuwait built its first large hospital in the 1950's. The architecture is preserved and its has an outstanding feeling of respect for the old bricks, rather than wiping out the old to build new as it has become a trend in Kuwait in the name of modernization. 

The scenography for the exhibition is the essence of the show. The blown up miniatures showing scenes of the Mughal period give a sense of wide angle view to the minute details and precision in the making of these objects. Same showcases have been travelling with the objects around the world, with its own full lighting, security systems and tags to explain in few words the origin and story behind the object. 

A worthwhile experience...

Monday, 7 March 2011

Sinan Hussein - in Kuwait

Sinan Hussein, the dreamer who escapes the ugly world through his paintings, has more than 20 of his works on show at the Boushahri gallery in Kuwait until the 11th of march 2011.
One of his works, "the wedding couple" was sold at the JAMM auction of february 2011 in Kuwait.
An Iraqi artist, he has been around in Kuwait for a while, after a time in Jordan and previously in Baghdad.
As much as he considers his time in the faculty of art at the University of Baghdad as being useless and how he believes his teachers needed training and revamping, Sinan shows a mastery of the basics: color, composition, texture, subject, research, point of view... And that must have been acquired quite early in his training.

Although he has exhibited more abstract work previously, this particular show is about a world of spirits, without arms, sometimes without ears, eyes or mouth. His spirits are to scream out the lack of humanity in the human world of today; yet their screaming is done in the softest toned way, in a sense of peace, playfulness and lightness.
His spirits vagabond from a closer human figure barely touching the ground to a bubble of dream in the dream. Their side twisted head seem to show a surprise or disbelief in what they see. Some have halos around their heads maybe to relate to other iconic figures in the world of art. One of his works is entitled: My Jocanda, as if he pays a tribute to past masters. The space on the canvas that surrounds the spirits are worked intensely from color to texture to elements as if the spirits needed the best of care and profound assistance and support.

Sinan sees that they contain the humanity that he cannot find elsewhere. He could be a medium through which they express their agony: a way to remind all of his fellow humans to reconsider their own lost humanity.
He paints a world trapped in canvases and hardly accessible from the real world. He might be labeled as a caricature / light figures / rosy world - artist. It needs an in depth look at his figures and discern the pain through the lightness, as a refined process for expression far from those abrupt, loud noises we got used to in the arab world of art.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Sulayman al-Bassam latest play in Kuwait

A new play by the director, Sulayman al Bassam, showed at the Dar al Athar al Islamiyah.
Inspired by the Shakespearian "Twelfth Night", it involved a plot about mistaken identity. Al Bassem added another of layer of confusion, with the play done today in a context of repressive system where music, gender proximity, dance, love, freedom of thought and freedom of speech are totally banned. Then al Bassam acts in the play as a reformed director trying to look back in the recent history, before the repressive system and digs up an old archive on a production of the "twelfth night" in the 60's. He then tries to reconstitute the production given the boundaries of the repressive system with a full fledge sarcastic, ironic twist.
Al Bassam is a maestro in plugging Kuwaiti traditional symbols with an arab context. He takes a classic and gives it a modern, arab, kuwaiti flair for a complete resonance to the current socio-political scene in Kuwait. The actors carry out the message with brio. The setting, decor and costumes are always in full harmony and complementing perfectly the play. His previous plays were "Richard the Third", "Romeo and Juliet" and many others. 
However, this time, the convoluted and added confusion on references to the repression were slightly overbearing. Al- Bassam must be really worried about repression and is trying to express an unease without unleashing real issues. He could do with a little more naked expression.