Artistic Globe .. Take Two

(The Rialto Bridge) by Giovanni Antonio Canal

Artistic Globe.. Take Two .. And Action!

Not only because we are madly in love with Italy, but because Italy is considered one of the most importent, top Art destinations worldwide! From North to East Italy… Welcome to city of romance, passion & inspiration… Venice!

1. Venice, Italy

Venice is a city of canals and palaces where water and light combine to create their own special magic. This 1,500 year-old city was a major centre of art and developed a unique style known as the Venetian School, the city had the economy to support art and artists, and did so in a big way.

Thanks for its location, in 13th century Venice was able to find ready markets for whatever decorative arts Venetian craftsmen could produce. The whole republic was crawling with ceramists, glassworkers, woodworkers, lace makers and sculptors & painters, all of whom made entirely satisfactory livings.

The state and religious communities of Venice sponsored massive amounts of building and decorating, not to mention public statuary. Many private residences (palaces, really) had to have grand facades on at least two sides, since they can be seen from the water as well as land. To the present day, Venice is one of the most beautiful cities on earth because of this building campaign.

In the 16th century Venetian painting was developed through influences from the Paduan School and Antonella de Messina, who introduced the oil painting technique of the van Eyck brothers. Canavases (the common painting surface) originated in Venice during the early renaissance.

Venice Must Sees

Piazza San Marco

The magic of Venice starts in the streets, mainly the centre of Piazza San Marco, that includes the Doge’s Palace, a gothic palace that once was the main court  & the prison of the city.

The Piazza also includes Basilica of San Marco (or the Patriarchal Cathedral Basilica of Saint Mark) is the most famous city churches & very well-known for its Byzantine architecture. Completing the works of Basilica of San Marco took nearly 600 years, the exterior of the basilica is divided in three registers: lower, upper, and domes. The interior is based on a Greek cross, with each arm divided in three naves and emphasized by a dome of its own. The upper order of the interior is completely covered with bright mosaics containing gold, bronze, and the greatest variety of stones. The decorated surface is on the whole about 8000 m2.

Saint Mark BasilicaMosiacs inside the Basilica
Mosaics inside the Basilica
A detail from the rooftop

Venice’s beauty was an inspiration for artists for years, capturing in their paintings the most valuble & important benchmarks in the city.


(The Rialto Bridge) by Giovanni Antonio Canal


Bridge of Sighs by John Singer Sargent


The Grand Canal by Francesco Guardi

A must visit in Venice is the La Fenice (The Phoenix) Opera House,  a standing masterpiece from the 18th century. Its name reflects its role in permitting an opera company to “rise from the ashes” because  since opening and being named La Fenice, it has burned and been rebuilt twice more. The last fire was in January 1996 causing complete damage for the building, reconstruction began in earnest in 2001. In 650 days, a team of two hundred plasterers, artists, woodworkers, and other craftsman succeeded in recreating the ambience of the old theatre at a cost of some €90 million.

Teatro La Fenice entrance
Inside La Fenice
Teatro La Fenice ceiling

Frari Church This 13th- to 14th-century Gothic church, the Franciscan “Church of the Brothers,” features the work of some of the greatest Renaissance masters including Donatello (wood carving of St. John the Baptist, to the right of the high altar), Giovanni Bellini (Madonna and Child with Saints and Angels) and Titian (The Assumption of Mary and Virgin of the Pesaro Family). You can also see the tomb of the famous sculptor Canova and the grandiose tomb of Titian himself.

Frari Church
Donatello’s St. John the Baptist
the Alter of Frari Church
Benilli’s “Madona & Child” in Frari Church

It is true that Venice is artistic in every corner of the city, making it the home of one of the most important Art galleries in Europe & the world… The Gallerie dell’ Accademia.

Gallerie dell’Accademia


The Gallerie dell’ Accademia contains the most important collection of paintings of the Venetian school, with masterpieces by Leonardo Da Vinci’s drawing of Vitruvian Man, Giovanni Bellini’s  Four Allegories series and Madonna Enthroned , Titian’s Pietà, Giorgione’s The Tempest, Tintoretto’s Miracle of the Slave, Rosalba Carriera’s Young Lady of the Leblond Family, and Polo Veronese’s Feast in the House of Levi.

Da Vinci’s Drawing
“The Fortune” from (The Four Allegories) series by Bellini
Jacopo Tintoretto’s “Miracle of the Slave”
“Young Lady of the Leblond Family” by Carriera


Highlights of the Venice!

Venice is not only a historical artistic city, but also a city of celebration! It hosts yearly carnivals & festivals to honor art, history & traditions. It is like a flooding ongoing connection between the past & young generations.

Venice Carnival or (Carnevale di Venezia)is an annual festival starts 40 days before easter and ends on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday) the day before Easter. The celebration is a meltdown between social classes, as everyone wear masks to hid any form of classes identity.

One of the most important events is the contest for the best mask, placed at the last weekend of the Carnival. A jury of international costume and fashion designers votes for “La Maschera piu bella”.


Mark your calendar for Canival of Venice: 11 – 21 Feb 2012

The Venice Biennale   is a major contemporary art exhibition that takes place once every two years, and an umberalla for two important festivals in Venice; the Venice Film Festival -oldest film festivals in the world since 1932-  theVenice Biennale of Architecture -established in 1980- and theInternational Festival of Contemporary Dance -established in 1999.

The formal Biennale is based at a park, the Giardini, that houses 30 permanent national pavilions The number of countries represented is still growing. In 2005 China was showing for the first time, followed by the African Pavilion and Mexico ( 2007), the United Arab Emirates (2009), and India (2011).

UAE corner at Venice Biennale 2009

In 2011 there is over 100 countries participating in Venice Biennale, noting the markable participation of Arab and Islamic countries:  Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Turkey & United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia at Venice Biennale 2011
Iraq corner at Venice Biennale 2011

Mark your calendar for Venice Biennale events!

  •  54th International Art Exhibition: 4th June – 27th November 2011
  • 68th Venice International Film Festival: 31st August – 10th September 2011
  • 55th International Festival of Contemporary Music: 24th September – 1st October 2011
  • 41st International Theatre Festival: 10th – 16th October 2011

Unlock your imaginations in Venice, where there is no limits for your creativity. It isn’t only a city of romance & love, it is a living vibrant city that appreciates culture & art, making it one of the mesmorizing cities on this globe.

We still have more cities, but they won’t be all in Italy or Europe… We will show you an artistic globe you never heard of! Stay tuned.


Artistic Globe – Take One

Raphael, “Woman with a veil (La Donna Velata)”, Galleria Palatina
There are hundreds of ways to show your love & passion to Art on different levels, some paint, photograph, get really creative but their work never step out their house. Others take it into higher lever & participate in Art fairs & maybe get lucky & showcase their artwork in Art Galleries for awhile.

But the highest level to show your passion to Art is to have a city in your country dedicated for Art, artists and people who are interested to see how creative one can be! You don’t have to imagine or further dream, we surfaced the web of the most Art Dedicated Cities in the globe & choose the best for you!

1. Florence, Italy

The capital city of Tuscany region. Known for its art, architecture and cultural heritage; which made Forbes rank it as “one of the most beautiful cities in the world”.

The Duomo Night View

The city is well known for its numerous museums, churches and buildings such as the domed cathedral of the city, Santa Maria del Fiore, known as The Duomo, took 600 years to build it & still considered the largest dome built in brick and mortar in the world.

The Florence Duomo Ceiling

Another major attarction in the city is the San Lorenzo Church which is one of the oldest churches in the city. The importance of this site is not only for its historical value, but also for being a milestone in the development of renaissance architect. Some of the leading architects who took part in designing it are Filippo Brunelleschi, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi & Matto Nigetti.

San Lorenzo Church
Cappella Dei Principi (Chapel of the Princes) hall

The San Lorenzo Church contains artworks for several italian artists distributed across the church, such as Rosso Fiorentino’s (Marriage of the Virgin) and Fillippo Lippi’s Annunciation, to name a few.

Rosso Fiorentino (Marriage of the Virgin)
Fillippo Lippi (Annunciazione)

We are still in Florence! As a main Art attraction city, Florence has one of the most important historical art galleries in the world, The Uffizi Gallery.

The Uffizi Gallery

Building the gallery took 21 years, from 1560 – 1581. The internal courtyard is so long and narrow, and open to the Arno River at its far end through a doric screen that articulates the space without blocking it and the Pitti Palace.

The Uffizi gallery owns a very large collection of international and Florentine art. The gallery is articulated in many halls, cataloged by schools and chronological order; it houses works of art by Giotto, Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raffaello and many others. It has the largest collection of Botticelli’s works in the world.

Leonardo da Vinci (The Adoration of the Magi)
Botticelli (The Birth of Venus)

Another major art gallery in Florence is Accademia di Belle Arti (Academy of Fine Arts) founded in 1563. It is divided into two sections, an Art Academy and an Art Gallery housing the famous Michelangelo’s David sculpter which was built especially for the gallery.

Academy of Fine Arts

Among the notable renaissance works on display are an outstanding collection of 15th and 16th century Florentine paintings by Paolo Uccello, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Andrea del Sarto and, from the High Renaissance, Giambologna’s original plaster for the Rape of Sabine Women. As well as a number of Florentine Gothic paintings, the gallery houses the idiosyncratic collection of  Russian icons assembled by the Grand Dukes.

Sculptures in Accademia di Belle Arti
Michelangelo’s famous David sculpture at Accademy of Fine ArtGiambologna’s (The Rape of the Sabine Women)

We can’t talk about Art museums in Florence without mentioning the Pitti Palace, one of the largest art building in the city  housing art galleries and eight museums.

Pitti Palace

Built in the 15th century, high end family lived in the palace before being used for power purposes by Napoleon  and later served for a brief period as the principal royal palace of the newly united Italy. The palace was donated to the italian people in 1919 and since then, its doors were opened to the public as one of Florence’s largest art galleries.

Pitti Palace inside view
Pitti Palace

Pitti Palace has ultimate responsibility for 250,000 catalogued works of art & housing  five main art galleries and eight museums: The Palatine Gallery, on the first floor of the piano nobile, contains a large ensemble of over 500 renaissance paintings. The Royal Apartments, a suite of 14 rooms previously used by the royal families, It contains portraits drawn by Giusto Sustermans. The Modern Art Gallery  first opened to public in 1928 includes over 30 rooms and has large collection of modern Italian schools of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The Silver Museum contains a collection of silver, cameos, works in semi-precious gemstones and fine collection of German gold & silver artifacts. The Costume Gallery contains a collection of theatrical costumes dating from the 16th century until the present. It is also the only museum in Italy detailing the history of Italian fashions. The Carriages Museum exhibits carriages and other conveyances used by the Grand Ducal court mainly in the late 18th and 19th century. And The Bobilo Garden, a real open-air museum for its architectural and landscape’s layout, and the sculptures collections. The garden receives every year further 800.000 visitors, and it’s one of the most important Italian garden in the world.

Raphael, “Woman with a veil (La Donna Velata)”, Galleria Palatina


Boboli Garden
**Boboli Garden – Pitti Palace

Considered one of the top cities in Art, Florence has over 50 art schools & academies, offering for art lovers from all levels courses in different aspects, both practice & education, to enrich their knowledge & nurish their passion for Art.

Stay tuned! This is just tour number one, we still have more cities in coming posts.


Cinema & Art Icon … Passed Away

**Pop Art by Hamad Al Saab & Ali Sultan (Hamad&Ali)
**Pop Art by Hamad Al Saab & Ali Sultan (Hamad&Ali)

An icon, a legacy, a beauty from the golden age of Egyptian cinema. Actress  Hind Rostom passed away yesterday at age 82 of  heart attack after suffering chest pain & been taken to Cairo hospital.

**Pop Art By Mzawer

Hind Rostom, known as “Queen of Temptation”, was famous for her roles as a flirtatious seducer in Egyptian cinema where she introduced the Act of Temptation without platitude in 1950′s 1960′s & 1970′s. She decided to retire acting in 1979 because Rostom “wanted the audience to remember her at her best”.

**Painting by Chant Avedissian from

Whether she was staring in Drama (Mahatat el Qahira), romance (Rod Qalbi), or comedy (Ishaa’at Hob),  Rostom also known as “Marilyn Monroe of the East” left a great impression in every movie she acted, whether it was a leading or supporting role. The key of her success is that she was spontaneous, and delivered a message to women through all her movies to be ”strong with a touch of femininity”.

Rostom wasn’t only a movie star, she is also considered an Art Icon, a source of  inspiring to many artists who featured her in their artwork in many different medias, such as pop art, paintings & graffiti.

**Graffiti By Hend Kheera from 
Although her retirement and few public appearance to media & death. Rostom will always be remembered as the beautiful sexy blonde actress who rocked the Arab cinema & culture, and will be an inspiration for generations… Just the way she wanted to be remembered.

R.I.P Hind Rostom

Khaled Hafez .. A Story of Inner Revolution


“The need to change” is what Egyptian artist Khaled Hafez calls for in his artworks. Whether they were video projects or paintings, Hafez’s works capture dramatic movements of the outside world & consistant inner conflicts, sights & thoughts all painted & directed in a multi-elements artwork.

Al Maha met Khaled Hafez in MENASART Fair where he participated in two paintings (Two Goddesses & Two Blacks), (One Sniper & Three Godesses) and a video project called (Revolution) which was produced in 2006 predicting the 2011 events that happened in Egypt last January.

It felt like a chit-chat rathar than an interview! So I’ll let the words flow in this post where Khaled Hafez shares with us exclusively how (January 25th Revolution) affected his artistic style, and the changes he been through and more …

“Let me tell you a story of revolution, an inner revolution. I was working on the saga of my last collection showcased in Cairo Biennale last December, I had a vision and everything was prepared according to it… Then (January 25th) came.

For the first time in 48 years I practiced my political right to speak myself up, participated in demonstrations in (Midan al Tahrir) with my students where we saw kids collecting the remaining bullets of snipers, took part of constitution voting. This entire experience made me feel like a citizen playing a role in changing his country for the first time in 48 years.

Life started to get back to its normal rhythm in February. I continued working in my artworks and new elements came out to the canvas! What I experienced affected me & left a mark on my style of work. I reflected what I saw in (Midan al Tahrir) indirectly to leave a personal impression; you will find bullets, snipers which is a global icon of evil pointing their guns at Hathor, an Ancient Goddess for Pharaos. They are trying to kill part of Egyptian history, part of my identity!


How it affected me?! I never supported “the art of the moment”. But (January 25 Revolution) wasn’t only on a national level, it was on a personal level too! I was systemized that change won’t happen in our countries, and nothing will lead to it. It is all not true; where there is a need to change there is a way.

I usually focus on something in every work; there was a time when I used caligraphy which is part of our Islamic culture. Hathor Goddess of love, beauty, music, motherhood and joy; believing in “feminine supremacy” challenging the common taboo of “male supremacy”. My focus right now is on maintaining the identity of Egypt that is a mixture of Arab, Africans, Mediterranean cultures and has a rich history. We have to take care of it amid the wave of changes.

I wish revolution also reach Art in the Arab countries! We were on the top, pioneers, we must bring that back by being creative and stop importing Art. The Arab Spring is spreading a new identity & Art plays a huge role in it”.

Khaled Hafez Bio

Born in Cairo, Egypt. Hafez studied medicine but abandoned his practice in the early 1990′s for a career in Art. He obtained an MFA in new media and digital arts from Transart Institute (New York, USA) and Danube University Krems, Austria. Hafez’s practice spans the mediums of painting, installation, photography and video.

His works have been shown in festivals and biennials including recent participation in the Manifesta 8, Murcia, Spain 2010, the 12th Cairo Biennale, Egypt 2010 and the Thessaloniki Biennale, Greece 2009. He has exhibited throughout museums including group shows at the Saatchi Gallery, Tate Modern, UK, MuHKA Museum of Art, Antwerp, Belgium, the Kunstmuseum Bonn, Germany among others.

Hafez is Fulbright Fellow (2005) and a Rockefeller Fellow (2009) and his works reside in numerous international collections including Saatchi Collection, London, MuHKA Museum of Contemporary Art, Antwerp, Belgium, Ars Aevi Museum of Contemporary Art, Sarajevo, Bosnia and several other museums.

Al Maha on (Two Goddesses & Two Blacks), (One Sniper & Three Goddesses)

Khaled Hafez artworks are best described to have a “predicting visionary”. He reads signs & translates them into different forms of Art to deliver message, feelings, thoughts… Keep an eye on what’s coming up because you’ll say “Hold on! Khaled Hafez said that in a painting!”

For more info on the artist; please visit