Saudi Arabia makes its mark on the global contemporary art, a trend the new gallery Alaan Artspace, which opens next month in Riyadh, is a part of this boom.
Saudi Arabia is making its mark on the global contemporary art scene, a trend the new gallery Alaan Artspace, which opens next month in Riyadh, hopes to continue, according to Britain-based The Art Newspaper.
Works by Middle Eastern artists such as Talal al-Zeid and Mohammed Farea are available at Lam Art Gallery in Riyadh; the Empty Quarter photography gallery in Dubai was founded by the Saudi photographer Princess Reem Al-Faisal; while Message/Messenger, a 2010 installation incorporating a wood and copper dome by the Saudi artist Abdulnasser Gharem, was the top lot at Christie’s Dubai in April 2011, fetching $842,500.
Energy in the contemporary art scene
“There is a tremendous amount of energy around the arts in Saudi, but relatively few institutions, and Alaan Artspace is Riyadh’s first curated contemporary art platform,” said Neama Alsudairy, the founding director of the new gallery, according to The Art Newspaper. The opening exhibition, “Soft Power” (Sept. 26 through Dec. 10), represents a breakthrough, featuring three Saudi female artists. Sarah Mohanna al-Abdali’s paintings and works on paper depict female figures whose bodies are cloaked in geometric patterns, including a series of arayis (brides) planted head first into the soil, The Art Newspaper reported.
“The works are each very different but together present a complicated and even humorous approach towards questions [about] the position of women within contemporary society. Like our artists, we seek to turn the narrative on its head but to do so with solidarity, ambiguity and a heavy dose of irony,” Alsudairy said, adding that the show reflected an important art world trend, in that a significant number of leading artists and dealers in the Middle East are women. In Jeddah this January, when the UK non-profit organization Edge of Arabia organized the 40-piece exhibition “We Need to Talk” for instance, more than a third of the works were by women.
“We are not seeking to alienate anyone, and we are also not going to shy away from showing art that has real potency… we feel as though we have a great deal of flexibility to share works, hold a dialogue and support an open discussion of what contemporary art means in Saudi and how artists in the Middle East and North Africa region create,” The Art Newspaper quoted Alsudairy as saying.