Stealing Sadness by Majd Kurdieh

Syrian artist Majd Kurdieh was forced to flee his homeland and now lives in Lebanon. This displacement and the current volatile political situation of his country has deeply impacted him. His art, a creative expression of his thoughts, features tiny cartoon-like characters he calls Fasaeen. Stealing Sadness, his latest exhibition at The Workshop, on Al Wasl Road, depicts these tiny characters on a quest to steal sadness from the world and in turn spread a lot of happiness. Kurdieh created this group of characters inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm, Kalilah Wa Dimna, the Arabic translation of Panchatantra and from the old poets of pre-Islamic preriod.

The Fasaeen include Fasoon and Fasooneh, a boy and a girl, smaller than cherry blossom, always smiling. The Elephant, who gives everything and never listens to anyone, and therefore became very large, the butterfly — the symbol of the gang, the fish – who is bored of living in water, the snail – on whose back everyone takes a ride so that the happy moments pass slowly and the donkey, the dove, the rat, the horse and the wolf.

Majd also exhibited at Art Bahrain 2018 and Sikka Art Fair 2018. His current exhibition at Fann A Porter at The Workshop, that runs till April 12 features a new series called Fasaeen and the Very Scary Butterfly Gang.


The Very Scary Butterfly Gang on paper

This series include the canvas of the giant whale with sad eyes, a large tear seems ready to drop from his giant eyes.


The Snails carrying characters on their back. Majd titles this as “I am actually not different from them all, except just alas fatigued by this journey”.


This one he titles, “Can the moon ever be concealed, can the moon ever be convert, can the moon ever be unobserved”.


Four of his characters ride on the butterfly accompanied with a verse that says “Life is a butterfly, each one of us is standing on her wings… we meet up and depart and meet again… ”


Majd’s art is endearing and his characters have universal appeal. There is indeed a lot of sadness in the world and the colourful Fasaeen characters touched a deep happy chord inside me.

Majd says, “Fasaeen… realistic slaps coated with dreamy kisses… theatrical characters that appear on the austere whiteness of the painting where they tell their story and run away as if they belong to the Tramps… the talking animals are an extension to the conversation between the poets and their horses and wolves…I tried to be visually aesthetic as much as I could… when I found myself an immigrant who cannot carry many colours and lines… the heavy suitcases burden the wings of the swallow… yellow and blue… are my everlasting nostalgia for a land on the banks of the Euphrates… merely scattered thoughts that resemble what I did. In the time of war I did not try to present death and destruction as an aesthetic case; I have rather tried to reconstruct the beauty of the souls that ugliness destroyed.”

Looking forward to more of Majd’s playful artistic characters. The Workshop was yet another find, this aesthetic hub has an innovative gift shop, an art gallery and a lovely cafe.



Kathak dance in Dubai

One of India’s prominent dance forms is Kathak. Derived from the word katha meaning story this dance form is a beautiful blend of story telling and Hindustani classical music. This decades old traditional dance is kept alive in the UAE by Ketaki Hazra. Her Dubai-based dance school presents the yearly musical event — Nrityanjali. The cultural show held in October was a two part series performed by dancers of varied age groups. There were several performances in the classical style with emphasis on foot work. Students performed compositions from creators such as Rabindranath Tagore, Meera Bai, Nazrul Islam and Jayadev among others.

Here is a shot from Shiv Stuti performed by Farah Shams, Megha Rajeevan and Neelanchana Kumar. The dance is an ode to Lord Shiva, the Nataraj — ruler of all dance, celestial and earthy.

Street Con 2015 at Ghurair Centre

The lanes around Al Ghurair centre, Deira, have come alive with striking wall graffiti, colourful installations and interesting stalls as part of the STREETCON (Street Art Connection). The festival showcases street artists, photographers and musicians. We enjoyed an evening listening to live music, exploring the stalls and posing for pictures along the bright walls. As the event is spread across various locations around the mall we were only able to see a portion of it. The first visuals that caught my eye were these stunning close ups of cats.  The photo series is titled, Stray and is by Jandri Angelo Aguilor. It attempts to bring out the artist’s yearning to own a cat, which he cannot because his tiny bed space does not permit him to.


Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra uses bright colours and bold lines to create kaleidoscopic art. His installations are usually huge and spread across a building. We spotted one here.


Along the inner road of the mall there are also several stalls displaying variety of art forms. Explore vintage posters, paper art and handmade toys. We were particularly intrigued by the Dubai Moving Image Museum stall. This unique museum is located in Tecom and claims to be one of a kind in the world. The stall showcased traditional animation equipment, books, cards and optical toys.


The entire street was a visual treat with local graffiti artists spray painting the walls, musicians jamming on stage and skateboarders skilfully manoeuvring their boards mid air. We hope to see the Miracoco Luminarium, the box art exhibit, bike art and the doodle wall in the weekend. Ending the post with this beautiful image of lamps.


Cafe Ceramique

The whole idea of sipping tea while creating your own work of art is so charming that it’s easy to fall for it. At Cafe Ceramique in Town Centre, Jumeirah, you get to choose from a wall full of ceramic pieces and a menu listed with sandwiches, burgers and desserts. You also get a variety of paint brushes and assorted colours to unleash the Picasso in you. After much deliberation we picked a car shaped piggy bank among mugs, tiles and figurines displayed on the shelf.

Messy fingers and work in progress

The cafe glazes the art work and heats in a kiln. The creation is ready to be picked up in about a week’s time.
And oh yes, their desserts are delicious too, but the artwork is what everyone heads here for.

RAWIYA collective photo exhibition

Images from the Middle East most often portray strife and violence streaked with blood and tears. But the Rawiya Collective, a female photographers group from the Middle East, brings images of happy faces, slices of everyday life and the promise of education for women. This exhibition titled ‘She who tells a story’opened at Gulf Photo Plus, Al Quoz, Dubai, on September 9 and is on till October 16.


Laura Boushnak presents here a selection from her series ‘I Read I Write: Yemen – access to education’. Her subjects are all women – the first members in their families to pursue higher education.


Myriam Abdelaziz’s series ‘Cairo Dances’ offers an intimate portrait of Egyptian belly dancers.


Tanya Habjouqa’s ‘Occupied Pleasures’ – shows families on picnics, children swimming, young girls preparing for a party, women practicing yoga or attending a wedding.


Tamara Abdul Hadi did an interactive exercise, wherein the individuals who were photographed had the ability to control their own image and decide how to represent themselves.

* All images are mine. Please do not copy.

Peek into Sharjah Biennial 2013

The sound of gunshots broke the shrill silence inside the art museum in Sharjah. With my heart in my mouth I looked around and spotted a room from where the shot had been fired. Unlike what I expected ala the movies there was no commotion, no blood flowing out, in fact it was all so quiet. So, I just walked up to the room and popped my head in a little to catch not a murder scene, but only a video exhibit depicting a gun made of ice melting away slowly. The melted droplet triggered the sound of a gunshot as it seemed to fall on the ground beneath creating ripples. The brainchild of Amine El Gotaibi, this video is called Gota de Gracia (a drop of gratitude). Check it out at the ongoing 11th Sharjah Biennial.

For most of us art is an expression through colours on canvas. But it was at the Sharjah biennial that I first glimpsed the many avenues of creative expression. Since 2009, I have been a regular at this event. From food installations to modern day sculptures to striking paintings and photographs the bi annual is a delight for both art enthusiasts and amateur visitors. This year the theme of the biennial is ‘Re-emerge: Towards a New Cultural Cartography’ and it runs till May 13 all over the Sharjah Heritage Area.
Some interesting exhibits captured through my lens:

sharjah 023
Faces by artist Amal Al Khaja

sharjah 014
Digital art by Sumayyah al Suwaidi

sharjah 004
Prayer rooms in UAE by Ammar Al Attar

sharjah 009

Artist Khaled Jarrar’s Stamp of Palestine

All images are taken by me. Please do not copy.


Enjoy art with Iftar

Ever seen Bob Marley on coffee? In a one-of-a-kind artistic experiment painter and writer Archana RD King also known as Blu is showcasing paintings made with coffee at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

As part of Ramadan celebrations the hotel is offering a visual and gastronomical treat for visitors combining an authentic Iftar buffet and a painting exhibition. Along with the coffee paintings are a medley of hues created by local and international artists.

We enjoyed a scrumptious dinner followed by an exploration of the creative exhibits. My personal favourite was yet another Blu — a galloping horse against a backdrop of sky blue.

Guess the artist

Starting today my friend painter-journalist Archana RD King displays two of her works at the Ghaf art gallery in Abu Dhabi. ‘Guess the artist‘ exhibition is an interesting concept where the artists names are not displayed with their paintings. The artist is revealed only after you purchase the painting thus purely challenging the depth of your love for art. So, take a guess.

For more details contact 02-6655332. The exhibition is on till February 12, 2011.