2 Days Workshop of “The Other Resurrection”

by Al Mahha

Al Mahha took part of a 2 days photography workshop by Contemporary Art Platform CAP and Rawiya ‘s “The Other Resurrection” by photographers Laura Boushnak and Tamara Abdul Hadi.

Tamara Abdul Hadi & Laura Boushnak explaining


The first day of the workshop was an outdoor photography in Kuwait’s old and traditional open-air market “Souk Al Mubarkiya” where we were asked to choose a topic and create a story from it, in other words, tell a story inspired from the old souk. The second day of workshop was an editing session of all the photos we took and an open discussion about each photographer’s story.

It was quiet interesting because we were all at the same place but each one of us choose different perspective to highlight. Varied from landscape, patterns & colors, bloody scenes of the meat & fish market, modern vs vintage buildings and products, relationship between buyers and vendors, men & women accesories and more stories were shared during the day-2 workshop.

At Soul Mubarkia by Al Mahha


At Soul Mubarkia by Al Mahha


At Soul Mubarkia by Al Mahha


At Soul Mubarkia by Al Mahha


The workshop of “The Other Ressurrection” proved the point of the Rawiya collective photography exhibition currently showing at CAP – Kuwait; that we may all pass by the same scene everyday but one will find something unique in it and reveal a story behind it, or even more, one can dare himself and approach a taboo topic no one dares to look at.


2nd day of Workshop
Spotted! Laura Boushnak capturing Amira Behbehani :)


by Al Mahha


Thank you CAP & Rawiya for a conductive and beneficial cooperation.


Let “Rawiya” Tell You A Story!

Tanya Habjouqa 's "Women of Gaza"

“Rawiya” means “She who tells a story” , a story of hope, determination, challenge, differences and stereotype breaking. 6 women shared different stories from reality scenes in the Middle East in a collective photography exhibition (The Other Resurrection) at Contemporary Art Platform CAP – Kuwait, the photographers are: Myriam Abdelaziz, Tamara Abdul Hadi, Laura Boushnak,Tanya Habjouqa, Dalia Khamissy and Newsha Tavakolian.

Coming from different backgrounds, nations and experiences, the 6 photographers told a story we may everyday hear and know, but their lense  captured it in a new approach and introduce the stories as if you hear it for the first time. Iranian artist, Newsha Tavakolian tells the story of sexual transformation citing a previous truck driver “Asgar” and now called “Maria” whose children cut off their relations with her after Maria story was revealed to the public.

Newsha Tavakolian ‘s “Maria”

Tanya Habjouqa from Palestine cites the story of challenging in the most abandon cities in the world, Gaza. Tanya captures the daily life of Palestinians inside the seized Gaza Strip where they only can walk, breath, eat, laugh, cry in few square kilometers or they will be killed by the Israelis troops. Lebanese photographer Dalia Khamissy tells the story of the missing people since the Lebanese war, through capturing their mothers and belonging.


Tanya Habjouqa ‘s “My Own Private Gaza”
Tanya Habjouqa ‘s “Women of Gaza”
Dalia Khamissy ‘s 

French photographer of Egyptian origins Myriam Abdelaziz tells the story of one’s inner desire is revealed, the beauty of street art during January 25 Revolution in Egypt whereas Palestinian photographer Laura Boushnak is determination and hope storyteller; her photography focus on Arab women and education across the Middle East. Rather then simply turning her camera on the women, Laura encourages collaboration with her subjects—with women in literacy classes practicing their newly learned words on her photo negatives yielding surprising and inspiring images.

Myriam Abdelaziz Photography
Laura Boushnak storytelling

Tamara Abdul Hadi from Iraq and based currently in Lebanon tells the story of Arab men, reflecting the beauty in their differences, ambitions. She breaks the stereotype of focusing on women in art and their issues, Tamara approaches Men’s world from a different perspective which is a world very secretive and hard to get near, Arab men rarely express their emotions and fears loudly. But Tamara managed to break that rule with her photographs.

Tamara Abdul Hadi

(The Other Resurrection) truly reflects the saying “A Picture Says Thousand Words” and it is running at Contemporary Art Platform CAP – Kuwait until May 30.


We Are Talking $550,000 Sales in Ayyam Young Collectors Auction Sale!


Held at Ayyam Art Center in Alserkal Avenue on May 15, Ayyam Auctions held its seventh edition of The Young Collectors Auction in Dubai with sales reaching $550,000 higher than the 6th Young Collectors Auction last January. This only proves that Ayyam Auctions has established a strong ground and base for both collectors and artists around the region!

The public sale featured an astounding collection of Arab and Iranian art. The diverse selection of works set established figures such as Samia Halaby, Assad Arabi and Safwan Dahoul alongside burgeoning Iranian talents, Ramin Shirdel, Navid Azimi Sajadi and Shadi Ghadirian on the auction block, allowing new collectors and seasoned bidders to find unique works for their collections.

The highlights of the evening came with competitive bidding over works by emerging artists such as Ramin Shirdel, whose Eshgh 2 sold for and impressive $20,400 from an estimate of $5,000-$6,000, Shurooq Amin’s estimated $8,000-$12,000 My Harem in Heaven, which sold for $18,000, and Elias Izoli’s strikingly modern portrait that brought in $14,400 over an estimate of $5,000-$6,000. Acclaimed still life artist Othman Moussa’s The First Sin surpassed its estimate of $8,000-$12,000 with a final hammer price of $16,800, Kais Salman’s 2012 painting Chrome Platinum sold for $9,200, and an older work of Mohannad Orabi fetched $19,200, surpassing its estimate of $8,000-$12,000.

You can find the official and detailed results of the aution when you click here.

About Ayyam Auctions

Ayyam Auctions is the first of its kind among commercial spaces in the region and was launched in 2009 as part of Ayyam Gallery’s innovative approach to catering to its diverse range of clients. Initiated with the Young Collectors Auction in Dubai in 2009, these public sales have highlighted some of the Middle East’s most exciting figures, featuring prominent and budding artists from across the Arab world, Turkey and Iran. Recently, Ayyam Auctions has worked with other Middle Eastern galleries to insure a blue-chip selection of painting, sculpture and photography that is at once authoritative and robust. Expanding the number of lots with each edition, The Young Collectors Auction, Dubai Sale and Beirut Sale have become an essential part of the region’s world-renowned lineup of yearly art events.


Comparative Reading on Mohannad Orabi’s “It’s No Longer About Me”

"It's No Longer About Me" Medium: Mixed Media on Canvas. 2012

“It’s No Longer About Me” is the title of Syrian artist Mohannad Orabi latest solo exhibition currently hosted by Ayyam Gallery (DIFC), Dubai, which caught my attention and made me wonder what is no longer about the artist?!

To understand this statement, I had to look into Mohannad’s previous artworks and that gave me the answer. Comparing between latest and old artworks, Mohannad shifted from the joyful figures on his canvases where a soft calming smile and eyes closed in peace, to sad figures where their smile is taken away and eyes widely open anticipating something… He came out of the bubble into the world.


From Mohannad’s Orabi previous exhibition “It’s All About Sama” March 2011


A Previous Work of Mohannad Orabi “Self Portrait” Done in 2009



Also another previous work by Mohannad Orabi before 2012


Previous collage work by Mohannad Orabi before 2012


Now I jump to another question: what have changed?!

There is no doubt that the events striking Syria and the world last year effected Mohannad’s works. In his previous works, there is one figure sharing his / her intimacy, personal experiences, an invitation to their world. All were titled “Self Portrait” Mohannad’s figure felt the world is circling around them, they are apart from it yet close.

Suddenly, all the events that happened in 2011 made me want to get out of my serenity and get involved, ask about a friend in Egypt or a family member in Lebanon, bitterly wondering about Syrians across my country even if they are strangers or we never met and wondering also about Syrians that were forced to move abroad leaving everything behind… Everything that happened and still happening is not an ordinary news we hear everyday in the news, it is about humanity.” explained Mohannad to Al Mahha.


“It’s No Longer About Me” Medium: Mix Media on Canvas. 2012


In Mohannad’s “It’s Not About Me” his personas have changed, there is something beyond self-portrait, as if he / she are getting out of their bubble, talking to you wanting to be part of the happenings around us, you and the figure!

Each painting has its own unique thing, but all fall together under one theme.” he said.

There is something different between the painting of the woman surrounded with 5 guys, and the character with a red mask on (both shown below). The first one is a strong mother surrounded by her 5 sons, the dots filling the painting like lace covering the surface, non of the characters are looking straight, they are all looking in one direction. Whereas the second painting of the figure with a red mask on the below part of the face, patterns on the hair and shirt, the red mask doesn’t cover the mouth or eyes and he/she is looking straight into your eyes!

Similarities are: both characters are strong, both are anticipating something, both are part of something bigger than them (First one is family & second is …. I will leave it for you to figure it out.


“It’s No Longer About Me” Medium: Mixed Media on Canvas. 2012


“It’s No Longer About Me” Medium: Mixed Media on Canvas. 2012


On a technical note, Mohannad’s style have improved and…

It became more mature… You look at it and say “oh that’s an easy piece I can do it” but it is not. The details make it sophisticated, duplicity in sharp figures, and I had to go through a long complicated process to invent some colors; like the red background work, where I mixed soil with paints to give is a Wall-texture. It is not what it appears to be and that is it trick, the value of hard work. Some artworks have reflection of light on it, this reflection represents hope to me.” said Mohannad.

“It’s No Longer About Me” is an outcome of various human experiences, and certainly transferred Mohannad into a higher level in his professional career. The contradicting details and overall make his portrait paintings one of a kind, there is sadness in every piece yet hope, disappointment and determination, fear and strength… All that will surely captivate any viewer and you can’t easily forget the look in their eyes, all Mohannad’s figures talk to your heart, mind  & soul. Speaking for myself, I couldn’t take their images or conversations out of my mind.

However, there is press release that I once read about “It’s No Longer About Me” that disturbed me, the author said “Mohannad Orabi’s exhibition cascades Arab Spring”. First of all, the topic of (Arab Spring) will limit any artwork adopts this theme, because once this phase is over, the value of artwork will also turn it into just another decorative hanging piece. Secondly, I felt anyone in the world could be touched with Mohannad’s works whether he is an Arab or not; anyone who lost a dear person will know the feeling of the kid holding a man’s picture, death is not always an outcome of war (as shown in below artwork with red background).


I drew the Child holding a eye-folded toy (shown below with gray background) because I was disturbed with the continues view of blood on television. In this painting, the child is protecting his toy from seeing violence and any person in the world shares the same fear of savage violence views on kids exposed to new media! It is unbearable and uncontrollable.

My artworks in “It’s No Longer About Me” are not related to the Arab Spring. Yes the events had an effect but that doesn’t mean it is only about the revolutions. I can not bid on people’s feelings and I can’t lie to myself when I paint , I would have said “Yes it is all about the Arab Spring” directly. I create something from a state I feel and get involved with, to me Art is all about taking the risk, pushing the limits, thinking out of the box and see where the coincidence will take me; all this is reflected in my concept and techniques.” affirmed Mohannad.


“It’s No Longer About Me” Medium: Mix Media on Canvas. 2012


“It’s No Longer About Me” Medium: Mix Media on Canvas. 2012

By the way, Mohannad Orabi couldn’t attend his exhibition because he lives in Syria and visa permit was not issued for him…

It was sad that I couldn’t attend, but the interaction between people and my artworks & feedbacks I received filled me with happiness because my artworks were able to talk about themselves without my help… and that is amazing to me.” Mohannad told Al Mahha on a phone call while I was preparing this post.

Mohannad’s honesty with his work is what made this exhibition so successful and deep, it is not something that will pass by easily from anyone who see it. “It’s No Longer About Me” is ongoing until June 16 at Ayyam Gallery (DIFC), Dubai.


“It’s No Longer About Me” Medium: Mixed Media on Canvas. 2012