Naima Morelli

Diana Al Hadid [Diego Flores]

Musing around the work of an artist who draws her inspiration from multiple, diverse sources is always extremely enjoyable for me – especially if the artist’s references encounter my own, in a high-brow, low-brow dialogue.

In this piece I wrote about the outstanding work of Syrian-American artist Diana Al-Hadid, and read it in the light of both Buddhist philosophy and the Foo Fighters.

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“When the day was over, we sat on a bench carved in stone, watching the clouds turn pink and the sea purple. We chatted about everything, from Nietzsche’s Übermensch to that cute waiter trying on me. Being part of Positano’s busking community was paradise, so I figured that in Melbourne it wouldn’t be any different.”

A little story from my personal arsenal, just published by Global Comment. I wish to have the chance to write more stories like this one in the future, alongside the arts writing. It’s really fun!

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In Southeast Asia, several artists are looking deep into local traditions and narratives, giving the mythical and historical figures obscured by colonialism, patriarchy, and consumerism, their rightful place.

Their works challenge Western-centric and patriarchal narratives, opening up new interpretations for the viewers. Each artist is bringing forth a different yet very relevant narrative.

I wrote about four of my favourite artists from the region working on these themes for CoBo Social, but truly I’m thinking to write an entire book on the subject, or at least curate a show! In the meantime, here is a taste of it.

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Can machines create value? And do objects have meaning if there are no humans around to experience them?

These are the questions that Singapore artist Gerald Leow has been grappling with in the past few months. If you’re based in Singapore, you might have seen his latest work while walking by Marina Bay Sands. Called Perpetual Motion, it’s a series of column-like sculptures with reflective surfaces that appear to be in constant dialogue with the skyscrapers on the bay.

I have to say that Gerald is one of my favourite Singaporean artists, and I have been following his work since 2015. Plural Art Mag has just published my article on his new exhibit:

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art ramallah

Starting Palestine’s first ever art fair during a global pandemic may seem a daunting proposition, but for Ziad Anani and Yusef Hussein, of the Zawyeh Art Gallery, it was a much needed way to bring Palestinians together in testing times.

I reported and wrote the story for Middle East Eye.

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Hani Zurob

My latest piece for Middle East Monitor explores the work of Paris-based Gaza-born artist Hani Zurob.

In his latest series, “ZeftTime” the artist uses tar and broken glass to harrowing effect, as a metaphor for a shattered society. The works seems to suggest that amid tragedy there is no time to think and make up a narrative around what is happening; there is only the absolute presence of the emergency.

“This is the law of time,” Zurob points out. “Every passing moment is a new opportunity for a complete change.”

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Al-Monitor has just published my interview with Libyan photographer and photojournalist Nada Harib. Her work is all about hope in the face of adversity and beauty in the midst of pain.

With her photographs widely exhibited in and outside Libya, from the Institut du Monde Arabe in France to the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam, Harib’s work tells stories that have been forgotten or repressed during her country’s many turbulent phases. 

It’s another step for me and Al-Monitor’s readers to learn more about the culture and humanity of Libya, beyond the news reports.

Here is the link to the interview

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If you have any degree of familiarity with the history of politics and royalty in Burma, you will definitely know June Yadana as the daughter of the princess Ma Lat – the direct descendent of the last King of Burma – who later became the wife of the dictator Ne Win.

What is less known is June’s turbulent life across Europe and Asia, where she traversed the most significant moments at the turn of the twentieth century, always animated by a relentless spirit.

I have written about her for Plural Art Mag.

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For months, perhaps already in October, I felt an incredible urge to look back and take stock of the entire year, to put the word end to an unfolding of events, full of beauty of pain in equal measure, and start again. But as the buds of a new life in Rome were slowly appearing, I hesitated. There was always something else to do.

One night around mid-December I felt I could wait no longer to be back in my hometown Sorrento for the holidays to put pen to paper. I had to do it right then, that Sunday night in Rome. I had just opened up my computer, when two friends called for an evening tea. To hell with it! I choose to go, choose the present life who was asking me to join in.

And now that I’m in Sorrento for the holidays, in the intersection of days where time seems to stand still, I felt some reticence to look back. I felt that since that evening tea, I have been on the other side, and looking past my shoulder at a momentous time was something blocking the appreciation of what’s right in front of me. But as I started writing, and preparing my parallel post with pictures on Gioco di Donne, I feel have digested and released the old stories, and be appreciative of where they have led me.

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Desk

The question each one of us who loves art, and perhaps works in the art field must ask oneself is: with much uncertainty still looming in the upcoming year, how do artists, curators, art writers, and art appreciators keep themselves in the loop, not only growing their artistic sensitivity, but also becoming a vehicle for change towards a better society?

Global Comment has published my piece where I detail some strategies and a framework to re-articulate our approach to the art world in 2022 with renewed energy.

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Singapore-based webmagazine Plural has just published my interview with Burmese painter Richie Nath, also known as Richie Htet.

In the colourfully alluring world of the artist presents us with archetypes fit for our times. His acrylics show us powerful women exuding that hard, action-focused yang energy and male characters not afraid of melting into a softer, more compassionate yin expression.  

Here is the link to the interview

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Lebanese artist Etel Adnan in her home and studio, Paris. Photo: Stefan Ruiz

Sometimes you get the chance to delve deeper into the work of great artists only when they pass away and images of their art starts popping up here and there. This was the case for me with the ouvre of Lebanese artist Etel Adnan. I encountered her work upon her passing, and was mesmerized by it.

I quickly learned she had a life like no others, and at this point I couldn’t help myself writing about it. And I did, for Middle East Monitor. It goes without saying, when you write about art which deeply resonates with you, it’s really a blessing. The pen is aligned with the heart.

Here is the link to the piece

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