Stories

Artwork deep dive: Gazbia Sirry "A Lost Family"

A Lost Family (1960) pictures five figures painted larger than life against a vibrant geometric background. In the centre is a seated woman whose body stretches the length of the canvas, her head at the top and her feet at the bottom. Just below and in front of her is a young boy who stands with his hands behind his back, his feet small and tucked tightly together. To her right is another boy who stands taller, his elongated figure stretching higher towards her with his palm outstretched. To her left is the seated figure of an older woman carrying a young child, both of their faces appearing dark and ghostly.

Artwork deep dive: Mona Saudi 'What is found in the dream'

A rectangular block of carved jade sits atop a sleek, white marble plinth. Rich and vibrant tones characterise its colouring, in a spectrum of shades that range from deep green and beige to dark brown, swirling within the stone like the currents of a river. Tracing its shape, to the left are sharp angular edges curving to the other side to form an undulating wave. A small circle pierces through its centre, drawing focus to the surrounding negative space.

Artwork deep dive: Helen Khal 'At the still point of the turning world'

This untitled work painted by Helen Khal (1923-2009) in 1969, features vast layered, faintly textured blocks of green. Details of this moderately sized canvas reveal steady, measured brushstrokes, built up to create hazy fields of colour. Dark green forms the breadth of this composition, fading into a rounded rectangle below, in a lighter, brighter green, glowing like painterly facets of an emerald.

Artwork Deep Dive: Suad Al Attar 'A Balancing Act'

Two tall, veiled, women stand together, hauntingly depicted, as one clutches onto a long candle and the other holds her arm, in a balancing act. To the left, the woman in a striped lavender gown holds a basket in one arm and a child above her shoulder, who appears to be sleeping, resting their arms and head on hers. To her right, the woman in green stares ahead, her eyes eerily vacant as she clutches a long candle between the palms of her hands. Below them, a young wide-eyed girl, with short black hair, in a bright orange dotted gown looks straight ahead.

Artist Profile: Jaber Alwan

Born in 1948, Jaber Alwan hails from a small, rural village near the ancient city of Babylon, a city which has inspired artists, architects and historians for generations. Alwan was no different: an imaginative and creative visionary from his youth (he would spend hours as a child moulding clay at river banks into small statues), he explored the ruins and imagined the vivid images of its glorious past. The artistic legacy of Babylon stayed with him when he moved to Baghdad in 1966, enrolling in the Institute of Fine Art to study sculpture, which was then Alwan’s primary artistic passion, and was especially reinforced after seeing the works of Jewad Selim upon arriving in Iraq’s capital.

Shaikha Al Mazrou in conversation with Asmaa Al-Shabibi

Artwork Deep Dive: Naziha Selim 'The Warmth of Tea and a Mother's Embrace'

In this untitled work from 1996, Naziha Selim (1927-2008) paints a vibrant scene that features four Iraqi women in an intimate gathering. Seated around a table, they are veiled, dressed in bright colourful clothes, and each draped in a dark abaya (a loose-fitting full-length robe), which suggests that they may not be in a private space. The protagonist of this painting is a reclining figure nursing her baby, her breast exposed. Her veil shields her from the view of the women who sit behind her, huddled closely.

Baya As I Knew Her

As a proud Algerian and someone with a lifelong passion for the arts passed down to me by my father, it seems a right of passage to know and love the work of Baya. Her work, a natural phenomenon, decorated the walls of many bourgeois Algerian families whose houses I frequented growing up, adding vivacity to otherwise bare walls. During my youthful years, Algiers was a very bourgeois and conservative city which is why I was fascinated by the warm and colourful works of this new female artist Baya who painted and drew exactly like a child.

The Khair Collection

The behaviour of collectors varies from searching for works within one genre or medium to identifying pieces that fit into broader categories. The growth of an art collection is an organic process, it grows innocently from one sketch, a few watercolours, an interesting drawing, and then on, to another more serious composition. No one can know exactly when the fever strikes. No one can measure exactly when the casual hobby of buying art shifted into a serious pattern of collecting for Mr. Munzer Khair, but once his addiction hit, it didn’t stop. To him, the acquisition of every new artwork became a crucial step to heightening the integrity of his collection.

Willy Aractingi in The Mokbel Art Collection

Johnny and Nadine Mokbel are fervent collectors of Lebanese art and have been since they founded ‘The Mokbel Art Collection’ in 1998. Their collection has grown to house one of the most discerning collections of artworks by pioneering contemporary and modern Lebanese artists. With a distinct national character and identity, ‘The Mokbel Art Collection’ serves to promote Lebanese artists throughout the Middle East and across the globe - one of which being an artist they discovered themselves, the late Willy Aractingi (1930 - 2003).

Artwork Deep Dive: Huguette Caland 'My knees hurt, I am aging like Rossinante'

A towering wire structure stands larger than life, perched on what appear to be wobbly, misshapen legs. Delicately formed of thin black metal wire, a figure emerges, woven within a mesh-like framework. Seen at a distance, sharp, continuous lines and curving shapes characterise its composition. It appears to be a gestural ink drawing on a sheet of paper, its true dimensions only revealed in motion.

Unmasking Sabhan Adam’s Creatures of Isolation

Syrian artist Sabhan Adam is a prolific and subversive artist. For more than 20 years, Adam has become widely known for his rich production of a very distinct, yet odd body of work. His intense creative experience is not one that can be pigeon-holed into one genre, for he creates a world of his own.

The Dubai Collection Announces 279 New Artworks From 19 New Patrons Including 88 Artworks From His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Including the new additions, 406 artworks are now available to view on The Dubai Collection Digital Museum, featuring modern and contemporary artworks by 84 new artists.

An Evolution of Style: Dia al-Azzawi works in the Dubai Collection

The works by Dia al-Azzawi in the Dubai Collection provide a compelling overview of key developments and moments in Azzawi’s career since the mid-1960s. Born in Baghdad in 1939, Azzawi’s ongoing, limitless exploration of art includes painting, sculpting, printmaking, graphic design, digital art and more. His influences—ancient, medieval and modern, investigate the aesthetic, cultural and philosophical histories of pre-Islamic civilisations, the evolution of manuscript traditions, the legacies of heroes and martyrs, the impact of both ancient and modern Arabic poetry and the natural world. Perhaps inevitably, these influences also include Azzawi’s personal experiences and reflections on war, memory and injustice, especially as an artist in exile from his homeland, Iraq.

When Images Speak, What do they Say?

“What do pictures want?,” is a question on which W.J.T. Mitchell reflected in his 2005 book of the same title. Fundamentally, the question asserts the notion that pictures have agencies that extend beyond their makers’ and receivers’ intentions. Mitchell states that, “The question to ask of pictures from the standpoint of a poetics is not just what they mean or do but what they want – what claim they make upon us, and how we are to respond. Obviously, this question also requires us to ask what it is that we want from pictures.” The claim thus is for a mutual relationship between pictures and people, both with their agencies and desires. In many ways, images tell us about the world we inhabit.

The Depth of the Surface: Modern and Contemporary Art of the Arab World

We enter the composition by boat, on a calm, flowing river that meanders diagonally off into the left-hand corner of the canvas. On either side of the river, tall trees — their historical presence suggested by the wide girth of their trunks — hug the waterway; their delicate dance with the sunlight bathing the river in vibrant patches of green, blue, orange, and reds. Nestled behind the trees, a row of brownish buildings with dark cavernous windows guides the viewer’s eye along the river and into the vanishing point in the distance. Together, these elements — the winding waterway, trees that stretch up to meet the frame of the canvas, and architectural structures weathered by time — create a composition of immense depth that moves the viewer’s eye through the canvas: a visual journey that mirrors the suggested physical water journey that is the subject of this landscape.

‘Any Collection Is A Story’: How Two Syrian Women Are Sharing Their Country’s Artistic Heritage with the World

The story of the Atassi Foundation begins with a small bookshop. Back in the early 1980s in Homs, Syria's third-largest city, sisters Mouna and Mayla Atassi had an idea of providing the public with multilingual books on history, politics, philosophy, and literature.

“A piece of art is dead if it’s not being seen”: Khaled Ead Samawi And His Daughter Maya on The History and Future of The Samawi Collection

Collecting In Dubai: The Last Two Decades

The rise of Dubai as a contemporary art capital took place first and foremost through the establishment of for-profit ventures in the city over the last two decades, as part of an increasingly globalised commercial art sector. International auction houses and art organisations, with Christies a pioneer amongst them together with the Art Dubai fair, played a crucial role in this process. Whilst expanding existing operations or ‘exporting’ commercial models already developed in Western cultural capitals, these organisations found in Dubai fertile ground to challenge established frameworks for presenting non-Western art, which ultimately changed the very notion of what it means for art to be ‘global’. 

East Meets Far East

How Collector Snow Feinan Li is Forging a Bridge between the Middle East and China through Art. The pandemic kept Chinese collector Snow Li busier than ever as she delved into collecting and supporting the Middle Eastern art scene.

A Corporate Collection Changing the Art Game in the UAE

The A.R.M Holding Art Collection, one of the UAE’s leading corporate art collections, has for its mission the aim to promote innovation and unity through art.

Looking Back: A History of Art Collecting In Dubai

There is a long-standing tradition of philanthropy and collecting in Muslim culture. Alongside those of the ruling families, there are many private collections with an Islamic focus in Dubai, such as Mahdi Al-Tajir’s collection of antique silver, oriental carpets, and Islamic manuscripts.

A Reflection on the Dubai Collection

The Dubai Collection is a virtual platform that brings together the city’s private collections. It will be curated by a committee of specialists who will address Dubai’s cultural production from a regional perspective.

Art Dubai Modern Talks 2022

Art Dubai’s Modern section was curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, who chose to present 11 single modern artists’ booths from the Arab world, Iran and India. This section was accompanied by the Art Dubai Modern Talks which took place over two days (10th-11th March), at the ARM Majlis. These talks were held in partnership with the Dubai Collection; the topics examined the life, work and influences of 20th century Modern masters from the Middle East and North Africa. These important artists’ works form the foundation for the art history of the region from the turn of the 20th century to the 1980s and the talks significantly added to existing scholarship and research.