Tuesday, 2 September 2014

How to celebrate things that don’t exist: The 31st Bienal de São Paulo opens its doors

Agnieszka Piksa, Justiça para os Aliens, Justice for Aliens
297 × 420 mm, 8 páginas • colagem digital, 
©Agnieszka Piksa 2012

The title of the 31st Bienal de São Paulo - “How to (...) things that don’t exist” is a poetic invocation of art’s ability to create new objects, thoughts and possibilities. The sentence has a variable formula that constantly changes, anticipating the actions that might make present in contemporary life the things that don’t exist, are not recognized, or have not yet been invented.

Arthur Scovino, Caboclo Samambaia (O caboclo dos aflitos), Bracken Caboclo (The Caboclo of the Aflitos)
2014 • dimensões variáveis • instalação - desenho,  impressão à jato de tinta, monotipia e datilografia
©Arthur Scovino

Curated by Charles Esche, Galit Eilat, Nuria Enguita Mayo, Pablo Lafuente and Oren Sagiv with associate curators Benjamin Seroussi and Luiza Proença, and with 81 projects and more than 100 participants from 34 countries, totaling around 250 artworks on display, the exhibition has been conceived as journey through the Pavilion divided into three different areas: park area, ramp area and columns area.

Edward Krasinski, Lança, Spear, 1963/1964 • 12 peças de madeira pintadas em vermelho e preto, fios de metal, cortesia: Paulina Krasinska and Foksal Gallery Foundation  ©Eustachy Kossakowski / Hanna Ptaszkowska and Museum of Modern Art Warsaw  
Jo Baer, Na terra dos gigantes (Espiral e estrelas), In the Land of the Giants  (Spiral and stars), 2009-2013 • 155 × 155 cm
• óleo sobre tela • cortesia: Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlim, 
©Jo Baer 
From 1st to 7th of September 2014, visitors will encounter projects that are grounded in contemporary life and particularly touch on aspects of religion, social conflict, sexuality, ecology, and identity.
“In the 31st Bienal, we have tried to bring together artists that tackle the complexities of today when the end of the modern meets the still uncertain beginnings of a new system of thinking”, suggests the curatorial team. “In this transitional time, artists no longer need to claim a special area of skill or knowledge. They are, like many others, searching for a new ethics and mode of existing by which to order their lives and contribute to society.”

Dan Perjovschi, Repertório de desenhos, Society Stadium [Estádio da sociedade]
1999-2013 • dimensões variadas • desenho

To know more about the 31st Bienal de São Paulo please visit http://www.31bienal.org.br/en/

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Gaggenau - Michael Anastassiades 'Rigorously Purist'

When she's not busy being editor-in-chief of Le Cercle, our sister magazine from City News Publishing, Anastasia Nysten is working away with Michael Anastassiades to create beautiful design installations like these.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Selections || The Design Issue

          The Design Issue marks a new look for Selections as the magazine is re-launched with a new focus on arts & culture. With two exclusive covers designed especially by Studio Putman, in Paris, and Rana Salam, in Beirut, the issue presents the leading lights from architecture, product design, fashion, and design innovation across the region, with guests from Europe also. Zaha Hadid is in conversation with architectural critic Hilary French; design guru Justin McGuirk reviews this year's Salone del Mobile; Rabih Kayrouz is photographed in his Paris atelier; Sheyma Bu Ali considers Thomas Heatherwick's scheme for Abu Dhabi; and we review Richard Serra's new desert installation. We look to street culture with Rana Salam and peek in to the world of Olivia Putman in our Curated By section.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Art Paper #03

Paintings and quotations by Etel Adnan. Courtesy of Sfeir-Semler Gallery and the artist.

At the top of the poster shown above is an untitled painting, real size 35 x 45cm, made sometime between 1995 and the year 2000. It’s by Etel Adnan: essayist, novelist, journalist, poet, playwrite, painter, videographer and tapestry designer; philosophy graduate of the Sorbonne, Berkeley and Harvard; child of Beirut, born in 1925 to a Greek mother and Syrian father; and 89-year-old resident of Sausalito, California. She is currently being celebrated at Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art with the retrospective show Etel Adnan in All Her Dimensions, curated by superstar Hans Ulrich Obrist. We wanted to show her paintings as large as our print space would allow, in the form of a poster that can be pulled out and kept. And we felt we had to quote from some of her writings that relate to her paintings, as she is so erudite and uplifting on the subject. Inside the back cover are sections from the first of her many manuscripts, a painted version of the Arabic poem Madinat Al Sindbad, by Badr Shakir al-Sayyab, reproduced my Mathaf for their current show. Obrist is fond of saying that Adnan should be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, according to Adnan’s gallerist Andrée Sfeir-Semler. The Nobel Prize has been awarded to women 45 times, out of 561 given in total; perhaps Adnan could raise it to 46.

[This text is an extract from What's Inside, the opening page of the Art Paper #03]

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Chanel Cruise 2014/5 on The Island, Dubai

Our commitment to the world of fashion is so great that on Tuesday, we journeyed by car, plane and boat, and all the way to a desert island to see the Chanel Cruise collection for 2014/5 – although, admittedly, the experience was less wild, beardy Tom Hanks in Castaway, more chic island-luxe. On Tuesday, Selections’ Rima Nasser arrived in Dubai and travelled to Karl Lagerfeld’s Arabian retreat on The Island, where against the grandiose backdrop of a blaze of sunset and the futuristic skyline, shisha tents and candles dotted the landscape.

1000 guests sat within the custom-built, mashrabiya-silhouetted structure and enjoyed a show daubed in the classic Chanel colour palette of white, black and beige, interrupted by moments of fuschia, midnight blue and red and floral prints. Oriental art was reinterpreted into contemporary lines and forms across the likes of three-piece suits, long and mini tunics, short overalls, and boleros.

Following the show, fashion editors and models – as well as celebrities including Tilda Swinton, Freida Pinto, and Dakota Fanning – traded hasty between-shows Marlboro Lights for a relaxed puff on an arghila, gathered around lantern-lit tables and to the soundtrack of Moroccan musicians. If this is island living, then we’re ready to get shipwrecked. 

Friday, 9 May 2014

Jabal 2014 at Hotel Le Gray

Celebrating the tenth edition of JABAL, Le Gray hosted the works of a group of emerging artists from at home and abroad, including 17 painters, seven photographers, seven sculptors, and even one embroiderer. Dotted amongst the sprawl were some promising talents, particularly Yasmina Nysten, whose sophisticated oil-on-canvas work was deftly technical and resolutely modern. Expertly evinced human anatomy was the site of melancholia, with the red-hued faces of ‘For a City of the Future’ wrapped in cold, contrasting shadows of cerulean blue. 

The human form also was the focal point for Diana Halabi, whose stooped, shrouded men in ‘The Trust Issue’ and ‘Ignorance’ were cited as visual metaphors for human behaviour – pallid of face, hunched of back and swathed in fabric, the figures were what Halabi bleakly referred to as ‘the real you’. 

Across a different medium, interior architect-turned-illustrator Jad El Khoury got smiles a-twitching with a series of cheeky, Keith Haring-esque illustrated prints entitled ‘Potato Nose’, referring to the squat, bug-eyed little protagonist who appears across all of them. Potato Nose comprises some of El Khoury’s first exhibited work, and Selections have him, and his squashy little hero, as one(s) to watch during the coming months. 

Thursday, 27 March 2014


Anish Kapoor, Untitled, 2012, 138.4 x 138.4 x 31.1 cm,
Courtesy of Gladstone Gallery, New York

Editor-in-chief of Selections and founder of City News Publishing Rima Nasser was in the Emirates last week for Art Dubai. This cultural and commercial highlight in the Gulf welcomed 70 galleries and 70 museum groups through its doors this year and spent a remarkable $45 million putting together the show. We were pleased to find that out of the 500 artists exhibiting, 50% were women; as Abellah Karroum, director of Mathaf, writes in his accompanying letter to the pages he curated for us in the latest issue of Selections, "After making the selection, I realised that just half of the artworks I included were created by men, underscoring the extent to which gender equality is crucial to the progress of art and society".

Huguette Caland, Rossinante Under Cover XI, 2011,132 x 104 cm, 
Courtesy of the artist and Lombard 

During the press tour of the fair, director Antonia Carver settled upon Anish Kapoor and Mona Hatoum as the artists exhibiting the most important works there, while Rima herself most appreciated Huguette Caland's pieces, being exhibited by Galerie Janine Rubeiz, as well as Anup Mathew Thomas's photographic portrait series of women from Kerala, India, working as nurses around the world. 

Reza Hezare, Drawing Collection - In Exile, 2008, 86 x 62 cm,
Courtesy of YAY Gallery

Rajaa Khalid, 1951-64, The Big Picture, 
Global Art Forum 8 Commission, Art Dubai 2014

Artist collective Slavs and Tatars did an excellent job of curating the Marker section (read our interview with them in the current issue of the Art Paper) - with the drawings of Reza Hezare at YAY Gallery standing out in particular here - and the Global Art Forum brought some of the brightest voices together to debate and discuss art in our region (look out for coverage in the next Art Paper).

Monday, 10 February 2014


Sculptural works with names like Bourj and Bunker represent the damaged buildings of Beirut.
Set in the entrance hall of Mathaf for Mona Hatoum: Turbulence.

We are often in Doha working closely with our partners there, but our most recent visit to the capital of Qatar was a little different. Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art invited us to join them for the opening of their latest exhibition, a solo show called Turbulence by the Palestinian-British artist Mona Hatoum.

Suspended by Mona Hatoum at Mathaf 
(Turbulence, the installation from which the exhibition 
takes its name, is also visible on the floor in the background)

The exhibition was curated by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, founders of Art Reoriented, who brought a new eye to the extensive body of work being shown from throughout the artist's 30-year career. Arranged as a series of tensions and counterpoints, the main concept behind this retrospective was the idea of turbulence and how it is created by shifting between different types of feeling in the gallery.

Over My Dead Body by Mona Hatoum at Mathaf

This idea comes from Mona Hatoum's artworks themselves, each of which generates a sense of instability using a poised balance between medium and message. Reading or hearing about her work can not compare to experiencing it in person because her large installations in particular (although also her video and smaller sculptures) trigger physical sensations of discomfort and anxiety in the body and mind of the viewer through their structure and motion.

Hotspot by Mona Hatoum at Mathaf
(The Impenetrable installation is also visible in the background)

It was a privilege to be able to interview such a prominent and accomplished artist, particularly as she was born in Beirut and has built up her considerable international reputation by continuing to work with integrity, wit and political awareness to produce world-class art.

The exhibition continues until 18th May 2014. Read our full review of the exhibition with comments from the artist and the curators in the March issue of the Art Paper, free with Selections magazine.