‘Magnetic attraction’ of Makkah inspires work of Saudi visual artist Ahmed Mater

July 5, 2022 - Nada Alturki

RIYADH: Contemporary artist Ahmed Mater’s first visit to Makkah sparked a magnetic attraction to the holy site that would shape his creative outlook on life.Similar to many Saudis, his initial interaction with the city was as a child, but his most vivid memories of visiting Makkah came during his medical university years.

One of Mater’s most popular artworks, “Magnetism,” was constructed using thousands of iron particles surrounding a magnetic cuboid, a symbol of the Kaaba, which becomes the center of attraction to the small particles. “I create most of my artwork based on attraction,” he added.



Saudi Arabia: Major artists to exhibit art installations at AlUla’s Arts Valley

June 28, 2022 - Tala Michel Issa, Al Arabiya English

Major artists have signed up to exhibit their artwork in Saudi Arabia’s AlUla following the launch of the Arts Valley Project.

The Royal Commission of AlUla announced the launch of the 25-square-mile project on Tuesday, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Major artists including James Turrell and Michael Heizer will be among the artists who will permanently install their pieces in the northwestern desert area over the next couple of years, the Wall Street Journal reported late Monday.

Turrell told WSJ in an interview that the Kingdom’s “diplomatic or nationalistic tendencies” could be propelling the timing and backing of Wadi al-Fann, which translates to the Valley of the Arts in English.

“I have shown in Moscow, Shanghai, Beijing – places where I doubt I could show today. It is possible for art to bridge large cultural gaps,” he added.

Saudi officials have also enlisted Iwona Blazwick, former director of London’s Whitechapel Art Gallery, to curate the project and chair the RCU’s panel of art experts.

In addition to Turrell and Michael Heizer, conceptual artist Agnes Denes and Saudi artists Manal al-Dowayan and Ahmed Mater will install massive pieces at the arts valley. More artists will eventually be added to the valley’s programming, Blazwick said.

“I don’t think there’s anywhere else in the world featuring all these titans,” she said. “It’s going to be remarkable to see them in these surroundings.”


Saudi Arabia's Muhannad Shono introduces his 'monster' at the Venice Biennale

April 25, 2022 - Melissa Gronlund - The National News

“We wanted it to extend past the doors of the pavilion,” says Muhannad Shono of The Teaching Tree, the moody, monstrous installation he has created for the National Pavilion of Saudi Arabia at the Venice Biennale. “It’s trying to escape its walls.”

Comprising 260 square meters of woven dried palm leaves — all dyed black — The Teaching Tree begins with the thin line of a point, like the beak of a bird, and widens as it stretches towards the pavilion entrance.

The undulating object is internally animated by a pneumatic machine, so that it gives the impression of breathing. The scent of dried palm leaves fills the air and the slow sound of the lungs evoke a beast at rest — slain, perhaps, or just waiting.


Local artists to reflect Saudi Arabia’s evolving creative scene at Venice Biennale

March 18, 2022 - Mai Almarzoogi For Arab News

Saudi Arabia will take part in the upcoming 2022 Venice Biennale, which will take place from April 23 to Nov. 27.

Local artist Muhannad Shono will be representing Saudi Arabia’s National Pavilion, working alongside curator and art historian Reem Fadda, and assistant curator Rotana Shaker.

Saudi Arabia is taking part in the biennale for the third time. Its pavilion will be explored through the lens of a philosophical concept related to nature and the knowledge and ideas it could offer humans.


Saudi Arabia Announces Venice Biennale Pavilion

March 17, 2022 - Art Asia Pacific By HG Masters

Riyadh-based multimedia artist Muhannad Shono will represent the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia at the 59th Venice Biennale in April, in a pavilion curated by art historian and curator Reem Fadda with assistant curator Rotana Shaker. No title or theme for the exhibition was announced, though Fadda described it as an “ambitious project” that will “captivate audiences.”



A place called home: Artists reveal their favorite places at 21,39 Jeddah Arts

March 10, 2022 - Saleh Fareed For Arab News

The Saudi Art Council has announced this year’s 21,39 Jeddah Arts, a program of special exhibitions, workshops, and educational forums that are being held across Jeddah through June featuring the work of 27 artists from the Kingdom and other countries.

The exhibition will then be hosted by Ithra, in Dhahran, from June 30 until the end of September.


Desert X AlUla; The International Art Exhibition Is Back And Exploring Ideas Of Mirage And Oasis

February 26, 2022 - Shelby Knick For Forbes

Desert X AlUla is a collaboration between Desert X and the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) and is curated by Reem Fadda, Raneem Farsi, and Neville Wakefield. The site-responsive exhibition is the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, building on the legacy of Desert X in California’s Coachella Valley. The project brings together artists, curators, and the community to create a space where art can be experienced on a monumental scale in harmony with nature.

The striking location in North-West Saudi Arabia covers 22,561km² and plays host to a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains, and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years, such as the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hegra. This 52-hectare ancient city was once the principal southern city to the Nabataean Kingdom and served as an outpost to the Roman Empire. Now, the city serves as a wonder and inspiration to historians, artists, and the curious. The exploration of the exhibition in the middle of the desert adds to the experience. Visitors can wander freely through the juxtaposition of art and nature, oftentimes having to look closely to find where nature ends and art begins, such as artist Dana Awartani’s sculpture. 


Art Basel Names 289 Exhibitors for Marquee Swiss Fair This June

February 24, 2022 - Maximiliano Duron For Art News

Art Basel has announced the 289 galleries that will take part in its upcoming edition in the Swiss city, which is scheduled to run June 16 to June 19, with preview days on June 14 and June 15.

Though it is not the first edition in Basel to be staged since the onset of the pandemic, this iteration will be the first to take place during Art Basel’s traditional mid-June dates. Last year’s edition was delayed until September, but included a similar number of galleries.

Several of the world’s top galleries, including Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth, Pace, and David Zwirner, are set to participate alongside 19 first-time exhibitors. Those making their Art Basel debut include two galleries based in Africa, Jahmek Contemporary Art from Luanda and OH Gallery from Dakar. Also among the first-timers are Proyectos Ultravioleta in Guatemala City, Mariane Ibrahim in Chicago and Paris, and Athr Gallery, which has three locations in Saudi Arabia.


New Saudi arts exhibition project opens to promote photography in Kingdom

February 23, 2022 - Saleh Fareed For Arab News

A group of acclaimed Saudi and international photographers have joined forces for the launch of a new exhibition project in the Kingdom.
The inaugural edition of Jeddah Photo 2022, running at Athr Gallery until March 17, will be showcasing a variety of images including some of the earliest photographic experiments, modern classics, and innovative contemporary artworks.
Under the title “The Time is Right,” this year’s event aims to raise awareness about the fragile balance of humans’ relationship with the natural world.


‘AlUla a place with narrative at its heart with every landscape telling a story — of continuity’

February 23, 2022 - Saudi Gazette

The official launch of the first edition of Cortona on the Move AlUla took place this weekend. The founders and officials of the original Cortona on the Move in Tuscany, Italy, were in attendance with a group of international media and artists whose work is being exhibited in the site-responsive narrative photography festival.

The title of the exhibition, Past Forward – Time, Life and Longing came together organically as conversations with the artists evolved.

Themes in the first edition of Cortona on the Move AlUla range from important and emotive stories from artists Tanya Habjouqa’s Tomorrow There will be Apricots, and Omar Iman, Live, Love, Refugee and climate change with Simon Norfolk’s, Shroud and Mohammad AlFaraj’s Guardians of the Oasis.