Desert X AlUla Reveals Artist List for Second Edition

January 18, 2022 - Tessa Solomon for Art News

Desert X AlUla has revealed the artist list for its second edition, set to open in Saudi Arabia this February. Site-specific works by international and local artists will again be scattered across the ancient desert landscape—a sprawl of sandstone mountains and valleys—in the northwest of the kingdom.

The biennial, which also holds an edition in California’s Coachella Valley, held its first exhibition there in 2020. Desert X’s AlUla exhibition is organized in collaboration with the Royal Commission for AlUla, which is led by Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.


Six artists visually transform AlUla oasis for first art residency

January 14, 2022 - Rebecca Anne Proctor for Arab News

The cycle of death and renewal in the oasis was the focus of Muhannad Shono’s work, “On This Sacred Day,” with the smoke rising from the installation representing the stories of comings and goings, loss, and remembrance.

He said: “It is a ceremonial piece that transcribes the journey of plant, ash, smoke, and sky, in other words, a cycle of death and renewal unfolding inside a living oasis. It also questions purposeful change, transformation, and impacts to guard against fires that may seek to reduce the world to ash.”


At Diriyah Biennale, Chinese History Meets a Saudi Future

January 12, 2022 - Stephanie Bailey for Ocula

There were discussions about Saudi Arabia's first contemporary art biennial happening in tandem with a China-Saudi cultural year, so I was told by artist and prince Sultan bin Fahad bin Nasser. Hence the selection of Philip Tinari as artistic director.

While Covid-19 scuppered these plans, a soft power logic infuses the Diriyah Biennale (11 December 2021–11 March 2022), staged across six renovated warehouses in the JAX district of Diriyah, on the edge of Riyadh, where the UNESCO world heritage site At-Turaif constitutes the birthplace of the first Saudi state.


Saudi Arabia’s Art World Has Long Been an Outlier. With Its First-Ever Homegrown Biennial, It’s Looking to Usher in a New Chapter

December 15, 2021

The exhibition, curated by Philip Tinari, is hoping to build a bridge between the Kingdom and the wider art world.

A sense of urgent transformation can be felt in the Middle Eastern nation, which was culturally insulated from the world until Prince Mohammed Bin Salman laid out Vision 2030’s social and economic reforms five years ago. Through its cultural endeavors, the newly formed ministry of culture has been articulating a position focused on enriching local cultural contexts while participating in the global art discourse.


Saudi Arabia's cultural scene is in a moment of decisive shift

December 14, 2021 - THE ART NEWSPAPER by Melissa Gronlund

“The best thing about the biennial is for the local artists to get a better understanding and sense of international artists who are working at a high standard,” says the Jeddah artist Dana Awartani, whose re-creation of the destroyed floor of the Great Mosque of Aleppo was a standout of the biennial. “A lot of artists here are used to producing and selling at galleries or art fairs. We’ve not had a not-for-profit space, besides the Saudi Art Council. For me, the biennial is mostly educational—we need the whole infrastructure of education, from schools to universities, to spaces like Hayy that will give you stimulating workshops and talks and programming.”


BIENALSUR, A Far-Reaching Platform For Art And Culture, Lands in Jeddah For The First Time

December 12, 2021 - Roula Allam for About Her

A historic site and stunning works by Saudi artists like Muhannad Shono, as well as international ones, makes the event that erases distances and borders and upholds uniqueness in diversity a must-visit. 

Following its success in Riyadh, the Jeddah edition of BIENALSUR 2021, the International Biennial of Contemporary Art of the South, is underway at the historic site of Qasr Khuzam (Khuzam Palace). And as the travelling art biennale is being held in the port city for the first time, the must-see highlights naturally include the works by Saudi artists, including a new piece by Muhannad Shono. In all 20 artists from 11 countries are participating in the event titled “Echoes: A World between the analogue and the virtual,” which will run until December 30.


Saudi Arabia's Desert X AlUla announces details for 2022 event themed 'Sarab'

December 8, 2021 - Alexandra Chaves

According to Sumantro Ghose, artistic programming director for the Royal Commission for AlUla, the site will also welcome a new contemporary art gallery named Perspective, which will showcase works by artists from the kingdom.

Taking place alongside Desert X AlUla will also be an exhibition curated by Lulwah Al Homoud, What Lies Within: Works from the Basma Al Sulaiman Collection. The show will be the first in a series of presentations that focus on collections and patrons from the kingdom.

In the case of What Lies Within, the collection of Saudi art patron Basma Al Sulaiman includes works by Saudi Arabia's most established artists from the past two decades, including AlDowayan, Shadia Alem, Ahmed Mater, Maha Malluh, Mohammed Al Ghamdi, Abdulnasser Gharem, Dana Awartani and Adel Al Quraishi, among others.



Dana Awartani On Preserving Cultural Identity, Tradition and Championing Female Empowerment Through Art

December 8, 2021 - BY Ayesha S. Shehmir for Harper's BAZAAR Arabia

A multicultural woman of the world, the Arab artist is resuscitating the teachings of her ancestry while tirelessly fighting to keep ancient crafts alive – leading a wave of female pioneers who will make history in Saudi Arabia

“Saudi is thriving,” beams artist Dana Awartani, who, whilst born and raised in Jeddah, has found a home in many places. With Islamic, Indian, Palestinian, Jordanian and even Andalusian influences in her art, Dana’s identity is graced by several cultures. Her geometric work is rooted in her Arab heritage, taking form through parquetry, manuscript illumination, ceramics and embroidery. “I see a lot of artists who are from the Middle East and they go and study abroad,” she says. “Their work is very Eurocentric, it’s very focused on an American or European aesthetic – but I’m trying to find my own language.”


Young Saudi Artists exhibition presents contemporary calligraphy works

December 3, 2021 - Ameera Abid for Arab News

The seventh edition of Athr Gallery’s Young Saudi Artists exhibition includes masterpieces by young artists and calligraphers showcasing the wonders of the written form.

The current edition is called “Contemporary Calligraphy” and was curated by Dr. Rawaa Bakhsh. The exhibition falls during the Saudi Ministry of Culture’s Year of Arabic Calligraphy. “We thought it would be appropriate to join the celebration,” Bakhsh told Arab News.


At Jeddah’s Qasr Khuzam, Argentina art event BIENALSUR enthralls with sight, sound and shadow

December 3, 2021 - Arab News by Saleh Fareed

BIENALSUR 2021, the second edition of the cultural event of contemporary art from Argentina to the world, arrived in Jeddah, and residents are in for a breathtaking cultural experience.

The exhibition “recovering stories, recovering fantasies” occupied most parts of the restored Jeddah Regional Museum architecture building — considered one of the best museums in Jeddah — with works by Saudi artists Ahaad Al-Amoudi, Lina Gazzaz, Felwa Nazer, Muhannad Shono, and Daniah Alsaleh.