Young artists throw spotlight on Saudi Arabia’s social transformation

November 26, 2019 - Ruba Obaid_ Arab News

JEDDAH: An exhibition by emerging artists throwing a spotlight on the social changes taking place in Saudi Arabia has been launched in the Kingdom.

Athr Gallery in Jeddah is hosting “In the Midst of It All,” the sixth edition of its Young Saudi Artists (YSA) initiative, showcasing the works of 22 talented newcomers to the country’s growing art scene.


Young Saudis interpet social change into art

November 22, 2019 - Sadiya A Nadeem_ Gulf News

Jeddah: A recent art exhibition in Jeddah showcased the work of 22 young Saudi artists from different regions of the country. The exhibition, which is the sixth edition of the Young Saudi Artist exhibition, will run until December 31.

It is being held at Athr Gallery which has been instrumental in supporting artists and providing them with a professional platform to showcase their artwork for more than a decade.


Shedding light on the theme of the exhibition “In the midst of it all,” artist and independent curator Zahra Dar Bundakgi, told Gulf News that the theme was chosen, keeping in mind the kingdom’s social changes taking place at a bolting speed.


في خضم كل ما يجري... معرض سعودي يرصد التغيير

November 20, 2019 - عائشة جعفري_ aawast

يرصد 22 شاباً سعودياً عبر أعمال فنية التغيرات التي يمر بها المجتمع وتداعياتها على المستويين الفردي والجماعي، وذلك في معرض بمدينة جدة يحمل اسم «في خضم كل ما يجري» يجمع مختلف المدارس الفنية

كما يقدم «أثر غاليري» الذي ينظم المعرض أعمالاً فنية لـ110 فنانين سعوديين ومقيمين في المملكة، بعضهم اشتهروا عالمياً وتم اقتناء أعمالهم من متاحف ولهم مشاركات فنية في نسخ بینالي

وقال محمد حافظ مدير صالة «أثر غاليري» لـ«الشرق الأوسط»: «وجهت أثر هذا العام دعوة واسعة لاستقطاب أفضل المواهب الشابة للمشاركة في نسخة المعرض السابعة، وتلقى على إثرها 203 طلبات من جميع أنحاء السعودية، وتم اختيار 22 منها عبر لجنة مختصة»

وأضاف حافظ أن تسمية المعرض «في خضم كل ما يجري» جاء من كونه سؤالاً شائعاً بين الشباب، وتحديداً فيما تشهده البلاد من نهضة فنية من خلال تجربتها الأولى في إضفاء الطابع المؤسسي على الفن والثقافة والترفيه، لتندرج هذه الفعاليات ضمن الإنجازات الثقافية، وأعاد هذا الأمر تعريف المشهد السعودي وكيفية تفاعل الناس معه، ويمثل هذا تغيراً على المستويات الاجتماعية والثقافية والاقتصادية والتأثيرات الحاصلة على صعيد الأماكن العامة والخاصة، وهنا مساحة للتعبير عن كيفية إدراك الفنان حجم هذه التغيرات


Now in its 6th edition, ATHR’s show, Young Saudi Artists, will have introduced the works of 110 Saudi-based artists for the first time in a Gallery context, to its audience and the rest of the world. Several of whom have become dedicated practicing artists, with gallery representation, and have emerged to be international recognized, collected by museums, with institutional exhibitions, biennial participations, residencies, enjoying critical acclaim, and a collector-base. Indeed, YSA gives young artists the opportunity to exhibit in a professional context, collaborate with a curator and expose their work to criticism as well as to the marketplace. It aims to shed light on some of the most talented artists working in the Kingdom today, who produce original content in innovative ways and deal with important and timely subjects.

This year, ATHR received 203 applications from all corners of Saudi from which 22 were chosen. We have anchored our selection process by creating a committee composed of the following members:

Sara Binladen, Patron

Afia Bintaleb, Projects Manager, ATHR

Zahra Dar Bundakji, Independent Curator and Artist

Manal Al Dowayan, Artist

Ute Meta Bauer, Founding Director, NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Singapore 

Alia Fattouh, Director, ATHR

Hamza Serafi, Co-Founder, ATHR


For YSA 2019, the exhibition, curated by Zahra Dar Bundakji, attempts to understand the swift social changes occurring in the country and their implications on a collective and individual level.

“Things are changing”. For some, the phrase has been an optimistic gaze towards the future, others use it as a mechanism to cope with difficult times, or perhaps a passive observation of our current time. In all cases, these three words have set up a permanent space for themselves on the tips of people’s tongues across the country, and extend throughout its global diaspora. 

But what is Saudi identity, and how do we truly understand it when it has been formed on the basis of the accepted condition of frequently changing surroundings? Be it cultural, intellectual, and through accepted methods of communication; various generations of the Saudi “self”, both individual and collective, frequently find themselves caught within shifting paradigms. It is through and within these transformations, that we called on artists to respond to the question; 

“Who are you, in the midst of it all?”

A commonly asked question amongst the youth as the nation witnesses its first experiences with the institutionalization of art, culture, and entertainment, becoming a clear realization of “event as culture”. This has redefined Saudi’s landscape, as well as how people interact within it. This represents a change in social, cultural, and economic levels with impacts on both public and private space dynamics. Shifting from high privacy values and ways of social interaction, occupying public spaces physically as opposed to using digital spheres as a main area for building relationships, and allowing not only equal opportunities of mobility and access to all genders, but also encouraging contribution of their efforts to build these spaces.

Here we employ contemporary art for its simplest yet most important function, a true documentation of our time. For we cannot observe nor comprehend the notion of change without whirling through our thoughts that cradle our understanding of “now” and today. 

Participating Artists

Fai Ahmed, Hana Kanee, Aisha Islam, Feras Nour, Shaima Saleh, Tala Qari, Rajaa Alhajj, Nouf Radwan, Samreen Sultan , Obaid Alsafi, Ghassan Al-Harbi, Ftoon Althaedi, Noura AlAshwali, Ibrahim Romman , Hatem Ahmad & Saeed Hassan , Nasser Alshemimry, Sara Alghesheyan , Zahar Al Dabbagh, Mohammed Hammad, Qamar Abdelmalek, Nujood Alotaibi

About the Curator

With a background in Sociology and anthropological theory, Zahra Dar Bundakji attempts to take an investigative approach to the creative process, with the goal of putting perspectives under one microscope for various schools of thought to access, which otherwise would be isolated and exclusive to specific social groups. Topics such as cultural, social, economic, gender, and racial identity are explored through elements in our daily lives.

In 2019, Zahra curated In The Presence of Play and In The Presence of Truth during Jeddah Season, and part of Public/Private group exhibition.

Gallery Hours


Sun. – Thu.

10:00 am – 2:00 pm

5:00 – 9:00 pm


3:00 – 9:00 pm