How the Saudi art scene is determined to keep up with the changes of its country
February 13, 2018 - Melissa Gronlund for The National
There is at present a remarkable flowering of the Jeddah art scene, a sense that the young and reforming country of Saudi Arabia – having been relatively isolated from the rest of the world – has something new and different to offer on the artistic stage.
Jeddah’s yearly arts festival, 21,39, took place last week, and its ancillary events this year stretched across the country. Organisers took international visitors to Dammam, on the country’s east coast, to see the gorgeously high-spec Ithra: King Abdullah Aziz Centre for World Culture, the Saudi Aramco-funded art and cultural space that opens later this year, as well as to the King Abdullah Economic City to see the country’s first-ever solo show, Drum Roll, Please of Ahmed Mater.
The Clocks Are Striking Thirteen, curated by one of Athr Gallery’s former directors, Maya El Khalil, showed works that played with materiality and symbolism in novel ways. And it had feeling: there was a sense of things at stake.
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