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Hamad&Ali take on london town

By The Absolute Man, June (2011) edition of bazaar
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Renowned artist Shurooq Amin with the pop art duo, Hamad Al-Saab and Ali Sultan
Renowned artist Shurooq Amin with the pop art duo, Hamad Al-Saab and Ali Sultan

In keeping up with the wonderful artistic duo, Hamad & Ali, we graciously asked one of our favorite blogs, TheAbsoluteMan, to cover the event by enlisting the artistic expertise of their international team of editors. As we promised them that they were in for a treat when meeting the culturally savvy and inspirational pair, we were even more delighted with their review of Pop Icons. Taking place at the London-based and highly renowned Lahd Gallery, Pop Icons marks the design duo’s premier in London, and will run until the 7th of July, 2011. TheAbsoluteMan plays the dynamic role of covering the event in London, and graces the online pages of bazaar for the first time with this remarkable review: 

I was invited to the Lahd Gallery, owned by Saudi born H.H princess Nauf al-Bandar, a young and extremely charismatic lady. A PhD student no less, princess Nauf founded the gallery, scouting artists to display their works in what is essentially the pursuit of a life-long passion. Lahd, meaning "the blink of an eye", offers viewers a glimpse into an alternate and extremely thought provoking reality.

Picture this. You are in the mid 1950's and on the brink of challenging all traditional forms of fine art. What is it that could possibly link everything from advertising to movies to literature (classic & comic) to music, and even to the box of Kellogg's that's probably on your breakfast table? Richard Hamilton was one of the very first men to answer this question in a work titled "Just What is it That Makes Today's Homes So Different, So Appealing?" He introduced us to the world of "Pop Art". Years down the line and this modern view has continued to provide observers with the ability to capture a snippet of the culture or society at the time. It's kitschy and it is un-adulterated mass culture. It's as ironic as it is expressional and it's proud of it. Proud - an ideal way to describe the pop art collaboration that is Hamad & Ali. 

As such, princess Nauf brought to our attention Hamad al-Saab and Ali Sultan, two Kuwaiti artists revealing to the world their vision of the past. As they described to me, this isn't a religious statement or a political movement, "it's an education" firmly rooted in our near history. An idyllic retrospective if you will. Whilst discussing this notion with Hamad, he revealed to me his idea of using "both a contemporary and classic" art form to introduce this "generation" to the last. By tapping into vintage films, magazines, photography and even their own archives this work aims to usher in a new era in what could be described as postmodern Arabian art. During a candid discussion the artists described an intricate knowledge of each of their subject matters, even down to the mannerisms of each celebrity. From the belly-dancer Samia Jamal who interestingly "would only dance to the music of Farid al-Atrash depicted (quite cleverly in my opinion) by the writing of his songs in the backdrop to her image", to the "use of rare screen shots from between the 1940's to 1960's". There is more to the Middle East than what is seen in today's media, and this new exhibition aims to re-introduce a truly cultural treasure. A hugely glamorous selection of arabesque celebrities forms the subject matter of iconic images that only a previous generation may understand; because they lived it. Charismatically the artists described a particular icon as being the "Marilyn Monroe of the Middle East", clearly trying to use an analogy that a westernized youth of the day may be able to more clearly grasp and associate themselves with. For a new generation, their gracefully emotive expression will hopefully teach an ultra-modern youth of the enigmatic personalities, which when viewed through such an accessible medium, could form the most fairytale-like of story lines in Hollywood. Whilst walking around the gallery floor surveying the work, I asked the obviously simple question of which is their favorite piece only to receive a simple answer, "they're all our babies". Hamad & Ali aren't just entranced by the people that star in their images, but by the legacies and the time from which they came.

Whilst we energetically look forward towards the future, this "re-awakening" may be a sign of things to come. The beginning of the second decade for this millennium may very well be defined by the very past we've almost forgotten. This transcends geographical boundaries and generational gaps. This isn't just art, it is a timely reminder of a not-too-distant yet sadly forgotten Middle Eastern heritage."


The Lahd Gallery is located in London, 92 Heath Street NW3 1DP.

Find out more about the TheAbsoluteMan by reading the bazaar review, and visit Hamad&Ali’s facebook page for their latest updates. 


For more images from the Pop Icons exhibition in London, check out the bazaar tumblr

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