Ahmed Mater

Saudi artists in the spotlight

July 1, 2022

AL-ULA, SAUDI ARABIA (AFP) – In one of Saudi artist Ahmed Mater’s best-known works, a silhouette of a gas pump morphs into a man holding a gun to his head – a clear critique of oil’s damaging influence.

Yet for several years, most Saudis couldn’t see the piece, titled Evolution of Man, as local curators deemed it too sensitive to show in the oil-reliant kingdom.

Its inclusion in a recent exhibition in the capital Riyadh is just one sign of changing times.

The Wadi AlFann works “are on a scale and ambition, and they have such vision behind them, that I think people will want to come for many, many generations to visit them”, said curator Iwona Blazwick, former director of London’s Whitechapel Gallery.



International artists named for ambitious AlUla valley installations project

June 28, 2022 - Rebecca Anne Proctor - Arab News

An international lineup of artists has been named as the first group to embark on an ambitious large-scale installations project in AlUla’s Wadi AlFann.

The Royal Commission for AlUla announced that US artists James Turrell, Agnes Denes, and Michael Heizer will be joined by Saudi creative pioneers Ahmed Mater and Manal Al-Dowayan to produce artworks in the new Wadi AlFann valley, covering an area of 65 square kilometers. The projects will be unveiled from 2024.

Visual artist Mater’s installation for the valley, “Ashab Al-Lal,” will use a subterranean tunnel and mirrors to give visitors the optical illusion of seeing a mirage.




Saudi Artist Ahmed Mater To Have First Solo Exhibition In Riyadh

December 14, 2021 - Roula Allam for About Her

With the “Prognosis:1979-2019” exhibition, Mater actively challenges perceptions and opens up alternative paths for accessing history, knowledge and meaning through his allegorical art practice.

Ahmed Mater, considered one of Saudi Arabia’s most acclaimed contemporary artists, is to inaugurate Riyadh’s Lakum Artspace with his first ever solo show in the Kingdom. The exhibition by the physician turned artist, titled “Prognosis:1979-2019,” is kicking off on December 8 and will be running at the multi-functional contemporary ‘art space for all’ for two months.


At Frieze London, the Art World Inches Toward Normalcy

October 15, 2021 - Scott Reyburn for The New York Times

The fairs, exhibitions and auctions of “Frieze Week” are in-person events once more. But the art world has changed, and so has Britain.

“Focus” section, devoted to 35 younger galleries, dealers were also showing pieces that made visitors stop and think. The Saudi Arabian gallery Athr displayed “Eagle,” a provocative sculpture by the Riyadh-based artist Ahmet Mater realistically modeled as a missile-laden “Predator” drone, covered in sand.


In Conversation With Curators, Hamza Serafi And Munira Al Sayegh, On Why Now Is The Time To Invest In Saudi Arabia's Art Scene

July 20, 2021 - Wided Rihana Khadraoui - Harper's Bazaar Arabia

“The role of collectors is essential to art movements and culture, both in Saudi Arabia and internationally,” says Hamza Serafi, a self-taught artist and co-founder of Jeddah’s Athr Gallery, one of the country’s leading cultural and commercial art spaces. “Collectors play a massive role in the world of contemporary art.”

The Kingdom’s art scene is undeniably flourishing with the support from the government, at an unprecedented rate. “We are experiencing and living through one of the most current movements which covers the whole spectrum.” Like neighbouring Gulf countries, Saudi Arabia is investing heavily in the arts and culture sector, building new museums and hosting exhibitions and events to encourage a whole new generation of art lovers.




10 must-see pieces at Noor Riyadh: the installations lighting up Saudi Arabia's capital city

March 25, 2021 - Melissa Gronlund - The National

The Noor Riyadh festival of light and art is running until April 3, held at sites across Saudi Arabia's capital city.

An exhibition of historical artworks that use light, from international explorations in the 1960s and 1970s to more recent works from the kingdom, is also on until June 12 at the King Abdullah Financial Centre.

4. 'Diwans of the Unknown' by Dana Awartani (2021). Location: Light Upon Light, King Abdullah Financial Centre

Arranged like a miniature screen, in Diwans of the Unknown the Palestinian-Saudi artist Dana Awartani projects lines of poetry from female poets of the pre-Islamic age to the 12th century. The phrases are stitched into gauzy sheets of silk that are lit from the side, so that the words float like ghosts from another age. The work is a continuation of Awartani’s 2018 large-scale sound installation, in which the whispers of these poems swirled around gravestone-like silk cloths, embroidered in complex geometry.


Light in a time of darkness

March 24, 2021 - By AFP - Global Times

As the world slowly begins to emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia seeks to reengage its population with cultural activities. Noor Riyadh - which translates from Arabic to "Light of Riyadh" - is a citywide light and art festival illuminating the Saudi capital of Riyadh for the next three months.

Due to the global pandemic, 2020 was hardly characterized by cultural events or communal gatherings. But globally, society has gradually begun to emerge from a state of self-preservation, lockdowns and solitude, and begun a return to normalcy. As the Saudi public re-integrates into post-pandemic society, the Noor Riyadh festival aims to transform urban spaces into art that immerses and engages the community.

The second half of the festival, which takes the theme "Light Upon Light," is a retrospective exhibition tracking light art from the 1960s to the present. It runs until June 12 in the King Abdullah Financial District Conference Center.

Saudis are eager to leave the challenges of 2020 behind and look to a "brighter future," according to Director of Riyadh Art Khaled Al-Hazani. The festival, "a celebration of light and art on an unparalleled scale," has already proven popular with Saudis, who have flocked to see the exhibitions on display. Lulwah Al Homoud, one of the Saudi artists exhibiting her work, considers the inaugural festival as the beginning of a "golden age of Saudi art," she says.


Noor Riyadh references Saudi Arabia’s past and rapidly changing present

March 23, 2021 - Rebecca Anne Proctor _ Arab News

The artworks, which encompass a range of media, including music, sculpture and performance, can be found in two main areas: The King Abdul Aziz Historical Center and the King Abdullah Financial District, where visitors can also view “Light Upon Light,” an exhibition of light art from the 1960s to the present, which is on view until June 12.
While the global art community will have to view the artworks virtually, Saudis have already been flocking to the venues in record numbers.
“One of the most critical aspects of Vision 2030 is the flourishing of the Saudi creative economy, which we are trying to foster, and this is one of the main highlights of Noor Riyadh as a program,” Anas Najmi, adviser to the Royal Commission for Riyadh City, told Arab News. “Despite all of the challenges of the pandemic, we managed to give the experience to 15,000 visitors in just one day. Secondly, over 1,200 jobs were created as part of the Noor Riyadh festival, half of which are for Saudis.”


‘Light Upon Light’ a groundbreaking lighting extravaganza for Saudi culture

March 21, 2021 - Saudi Gazette report

RIYADH — The “Light Upon Light” Exhibition, which is being held at the King Abdullah Financial District as part of the first edition of Noor Riyadh, is the largest group art exhibition that monitors the artistic movement in the lighting arts since 1960s until todate.

It includes 30 masterworks of light art divided into four sectional “rays” that survey light as an artistic medium: “Perceiving Light,” “Experiencing Light,” “Projecting Light,” and “Environmental Light.” Each ray blends time and unites established artists of diverse geographic origin.

From immersive installation to video and sculpture, visitors to “Light Upon Light” will experience a richly illuminated exhibition in all its spatial and sensory phenomena. This historical presentation of light art is a groundbreaking event for culture in Saudi Arabia. Noor Riyadh, one of the world’s most exciting festivals of light and art combining the highest quality of light artworks across the city, began on March 18 and will run through until April 3. Filled with spectacular installations, the fest will light up the night sky of the capital city of Riyadh.

The “Projecting Light,” pavilion presents artworks that use the transmission of light to create the work instead of focusing on light as a medium. In 2019, Saudi artist Sultan Bin Fahd worked on the art piece titled “Once he was a ruler”, which is a collection of photographs, in which ancient sculptures depicting the kings of the ancient Lihyan Kingdom in Northern Arabia are shown, where he modified them by placing layers of X-ray images, and these images were collected, superimposed in illuminated light boxes at the event.

Through his abstract drawings, paintings, sculptures and installations, the artist tackled cultural issues related to his homeland in the Kingdom. The artist also re-narrates historical stories and novels using art, and transmits these narratives through contemporary means to reconstruct them with a personal character.

While Saudi artist Dana Awartani is participating in the event with her work “Divan Al Majhoul 2021, which combined textiles, hand embroidery and poetry.


"نور الرياض"..السعودية تشهد انطلاق احتفالية تبرز إبداع فن الضوء

March 19, 2021 - CNN Arabic

دبي، الإمارات العربية المتحدة (CNN) -- شهدت المملكة العربية السعودية، مساء الخميس، انطلاق احتفالية "نور الرياض" والتي تضمنت عرض أعمال فنية تفاعلية تعتمد على الإضاءة في مواقع متعددة بأنحاء مدينة الرياض

وتضمنت الاحتفالية مشاركة 60 من كبار الفنانين في مجال فنون الإضاءة، ينتمون لأكثر من 20 دولة حول العالم، منهم 23 من الفنانين السعوديين، وفقاً لوكالة الأنباء السعودية "واس"


وتشتمل احتفالية "نور الرياض" على 60 عملاً فنياً، تضم جميع أشكال فنون الضوء، من بينها أعمال تاريخية وهندسية وضوئية، ومنحوتات، وعروض للإضاءة، وعروض تفاعلية، وقطع حركية، وتركيبات وأعمال خارجية، ومجموعة من أشكال الفن الخفيف، يتاح لسكان وزوار مدينة الرياض الاستمتاع بها عن قرب في مختلف أرجاء المدينة، مع تخصيص مركزين رئيسين للاحتفالية في كلٍ من مركز الملك عبدالله المالي ومركز الملك عبدالعزيز التاريخي بالمربع


Christie’s, WHO Foundation and UN75 unveil global art initiative to support Covid-19 response

October 8, 2020 - The Business Standard Report

Christie's, the WHO Foundation and UN75 on Thursday unveiled "The Future is Unwritten", healing arts auction series, to support a global Covid-19 response through the arts.

As part of The Future is Unwritten's initiative to engage the international art world in UN priority areas, and World Health Organisation (WHO) Solidarity Series of Events, the auction series aims to increase awareness around a global path to recovery and raise critical funds to mobilise artists and health professionals in support of communities most vulnerable, at-risk and with the weakest health systems to act effectively in response to the pandemic, says a press release. 

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, said, "This initiative represents a unique opportunity for the art world to step up to this global challenge and support communities on the front line of the pandemic, ensuring everyone, everywhere has the tools they need to overcome it."


Saudi artist Ahmed Mater’s ‘Magnetism’ to go under the hammer in COVID-19 auction

October 7, 2020 - Arab News Report

AMSTERDAM: Saudi artist Ahmed Mater’s acclaimed work “Magnetism” will be the first item under the hammer in The Future is Unwritten’s Healing Arts Auction series, beginning next month. The series is a joint project between Christie’s, the WHO Foundation and UN75 which, according to a press release, “aims to increase awareness around a global path to recovery (from the COVID-19 pandemic) and raise critical funds to mobilize artists and health professionals in support of communities most vulnerable, at-risk and with the weakest health systems to act effectively in response to the pandemic.” All proceeds will go to the WHO Foundation and The Future is Unwritten’s Artist Response Fund, which supports artist-led projects “that directly facilitate community healing and healthcare messaging in the aftermath of the pandemic.”


Jeddah's Athr gallery exhibition of light aims to broaden perceptions

June 7, 2018 - Nada Hameed

JEDDAH: Athr gallery brought to Jeddah for the first time a unique art exhibition at the Serafi Mega Mall.

The show titled, “Through the spectrum,” displayed the artworks of six international artists including two Saudis, Ahmad Matir and Nasser Al-Salem.

Each artwork treated light in a different way, allowing the visitors to indulge in light through several variables and configurations. These photovoltaic compositions transcended concrete barriers, allowing them to influence the visitors.

Athr unveils immersive art exhibition — Through the Spectrum

June 1, 2018 - Mariam Nihal

The exhibited artworks are extremely technical and require a lot of experience to produce and install. But thanks to the great team of Athr, Pace and Cruz-Diez, we were able to realize it in the highest level of standard,” she added. Saudi artist Nasser Al Salem presented abstract works alluding to Allah as the source of light. The beautiful metaphorical representations in which its letters are stripped down to basic geometric lines are the first iterations derived from an earlier work by the artist. “Working on an exhibition about light, I created an installation using the word Allah. God is light, [He is the first and the last]. The work breaks the notions of illusionary space, and goes beyond nature’s limits. It uses two mirrors, one on each side, to blur the boarders between the physical and visual realms, and create an imaginary, infinite world. 

Saudi Art Council Gears Up For Annual Contemporary Art Event

February 5, 2018 - Katrina Kufer_ Harper's Bazaar Arabia

21,39 is back for its fifth edition under the theme 'Refusing To Be Still' and will show across multiple venues in Jeddah from 7 February to 5 May.

Featuring over 30 Saudi and international artists, this year’s edition of 21,39 takes a fresh look at the growing Saudi contemporary art landscape. Taking place across three venues, the main group exhibition Refusing To Be Still will be held at the Gold Moor Mall, Rubat Al Khunji and an empty PepsiCo factory. A second group exhibition is hosted at ATHR gallery entitled The Clocks Are Striking Thirteen, while a third exhibition will showcase works by Ahmed Mater in Drum Roll, Please at King Abdullah Economic City. A diverse offering of family activities, book launches and trips are also scheduled.


Saudi artist holds first US solo exhibition at the Smithsonian

March 16, 2016 - By Radwa Ashraf for The Asian

“Mater brings the rigor of his training as a physician—as well as unparalleled access—to gather frank observations of his own time and place,” said exhibition curator Carol Huh, the Freer|Sackler’s curator for contemporary art. “The resulting imagery is straightforward and striking, while his newest research-based project presents another fascinating shift in his use of the photographic medium.”

The heart of Islam on view in Washington, DC

March 15, 2016 - By Gareth Harris for the Art Newspaper

A new exhibition focusing on Saudi Arabia, the geographic heart of Islam, is due to open this week in Washington, DC. Symbolic Cities: The Work of Ahmed Mater at the Smithsonian Institute’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery (19 March-18 September) focuses on the Jeddah-based artist’s landscape photography, which documents the rapid transformation of the ultra-conservative Middle Eastern state. 

The exhibition could not be timelier, with immigration, and how Muslims are treated and perceived, dominating the agenda in the US Presidential election campaign. The Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, for example, has called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”. 

Bold Contemporary-Art Scene Emerges in Saudi Arabia

March 15, 2016 - By Ahmed Al Omran & Margherita Stancati for The Wall Street Journal

Mr. Mater is emblematic of an outspoken new generation of Saudis who are making a name for themselves, and Saudi Arabia, in the world of contemporary art. Like Mr. Mater, some of these artists are using their work as a tool of critique, testing the limits of what is permissible in the ultraconservative kingdom.

“Art has a big role to play for change,” Mr. Mater said in an interview in his studio in the Red Sea city of Jeddah. “We are needed to push these red lines, the restrictions. It’s more interesting here than where there is freedom of expression.”

MENAM At Armory 2015

March 13, 2015 - By Danna Blog

Athr Gallery (Special Projects)
Ahmed Mater
Cowboy Code (Hadith), 2012
Pier 94: Focus Lounge
Plastic Gun Caps

AHM CowboyCodeII

8 Highlights from Omar Kholeif's Focus: MENAM Section at The Armory Show 2015

March 6, 2015

Saudi artist Ahmed Mater juxtaposes value systems with this large-scale text installation in the form of a Ten Commandments script. The work is physically made up of baby gun caps, like the ones Mater played with as a child in Saudi. He and his friends would watch westerns and imitate cowboys on TV. Excerpts from the text include: “A cowboy is free from racial and religious intolerance," and “A cowboy is a Patriot." The cowboy code is directly contrasted against the Hadith, an Islamic code bequeathed by Prophet Muhammad; fragments include “He cautioned never to be extreme or fanatic."

THE ARMORY SHOW | Day I: Snow, Art and A Spotlight on @AthrArtGallery

March 6, 2015 - By Jasmine Bager


We spoke to the co-founder of Athr, who is also the vice chairman of the Saudi Art Council, Mohammed A. Hafiz. He greeted us at their booth #542, in Pier 94. Hafiz explained the significance of text and imagery in communicating across languages—English and Arabic—in the carefully curated selections on display this year. The various pieces each hint at the flexibility of text; how language can easily morph, depending on the context. Language, he said, is not limited to the spoken word; it is also based on visual references, even subtitles in a film. The chosen artists, Ayman Yossri Daydban, Mahdi Al Jeraibi, Bakr Shaykhoon and Ahmed Mater demonstrate that in different ways.


AHM CowboyCodeII

Special projects 2015

March 5, 2015

Ahmed Mater, Cowboy Code (Hadith) (2012), presented by Athr Gallery (Jeddah)
This installation compares two codes of ethics, the former from the American West and the latter from the Islamic code, referring to statements or actions of the Prophet Muhammad, known as the Hadith. The Cowboy Code (Hadith), located in the Focus Lounge on Pier 94, is composed entirely of the red plastic toy gun caps, canonical with the image of Western Cowboys and tropes of Mater’s childhood and US popular culture.

Bad Weather? Not for Art Collectors

March 5, 2015 - By Kelly Crow

Over in the section for Middle Eastern galleries, Saudi Arabian artist Ahmed Mater’s 2011 work, “Cowboy Code,” was hard to miss.

Using red-plastic gunpowder caps often used for Western-style toy guns, Mr. Mater constructed a 26-foot-long mural that juxtaposed informal rules that cowboys historically lived by—such as “A cowboy never betrays a trust”—with similar, Arabic sayings from Islamic teachings like “The Prophet cautioned to always march in the name of God.” Saudi Arabian gallery Athr, which represents Mr. Mater, said the work is still available for $88,000.

SpeedDating In Texas

May 19, 2014 - By Werner Bloch for Art Magazine

Ahmed Mater - Contemporary Artist and Founder Edge of Arabia

April 23, 2014 - By World Economic Forum

Ahmed Mater is considered one of the most significant artists in the Saudi contemporary art world. In addition, he works in a hospital in Abha, the captial of Aseer province of Saudi Arabia, as a fully qualified medical doctor.

Saudi Arabia’s artists discuss muddying the red lines

April 7, 2014 - By Aya Batrawy for The Daily Star

When Ahmed Mater visited Mecca in 2010 something felt off. Dozens of cranes were eating away at the mosque to make way for a larger complex surrounding the Kaaba.

The changes were irrevocably transforming the city’s landscape. So the practicing physician and contemporary artist took pictures. He titled his project “Desert of Pharan” in a nod to Mecca’s ancient name.

Armory Presents: Emerging Artists, Newly Established Galleries

March 11, 2014 - By Artsy Editorial

Perched at the crown of a shopping mall in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Athr Gallery has become one of the most progressive venues of the Gulf—in fact, Esquire Magazine called it, “perhaps the most significant art space in the kingdom at present.” Known for supporting emerging and established contemporary Saudi artists, Athr Gallery will present two of the region’s rising stars at the Armory. From Ahmed Mater, it will show work from Desert of Pharan, a photographic narrative around the expansion of the Holy City, Mecca; and from Nassir Al Salem, formally trained in architecture and calligraphy, it will debut a stone sculpture whose title translates to, “they will be seen competing in constructing lofty buildings.”

Photography of documentarians Walker Evans, Eugene Atget at Louvre Abu Dhabi

January 23, 2014 - Asmaa Al Hameli

The contemporary Saudi artist Ahmed Mater will be among the panellists at Manarat discussing photography, documentation and art. Mater will shed light on his own photographic project, Desert of Pharan, in which he records the narrative of Islam’s holiest city.

The series of photographs in Desert of Pharan documents the mass expansion of Mecca – the title was taken from the holy city’s ancient name mentioned in the Old Testament.

Magnetism – Magnetized by the Divine

October 4, 2013 - By Deyala Creative Expressions

Magnetism, the work of the talented Ahmed Mater, was represented in a mayor exhibition in the British Museum dedicated to the Hajj. One of the Five Pillars of Islam requires every Muslim to perform the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in his or her lifetime if able to do so. Multiple parts of the Hajj require perform a series of rituals: hundreds of thousands of pilgrims to walk seven times around the Ka’bah in a counter-clockwise direction. 

Kul II,2012, 150x150cm, Silkscreen on paper

Ahmed Mater and Nasser Al Salem participate in "Calligrafitti: 1984-2013", at Leila Heller Gallery, New York

September 6, 2013

Nasser Al Salem and Ahmed Mater’s participate in "Calligrafitti: 1984-2013", at Leila Heller Gallery along side Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jackson Pollock, Keith Haring and Csy Tombly and prominant contemporaries Elseed, Rachid Kourashi, Sherin Neshat and many others.


Ahmed Mater and Nasser Al Salem exhibiting at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City

September 4, 2013

Athr Gallery is proud to announce the participation of Ahmed Mater and Nasser Al Salem in the exhibition "Echoes: Islamic Art and Contemporary Artists", Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City; Missouri.

Esquire Magazine September Issue (1)

People weren't ready for us

September 1, 2013 - By David Calverley-Morris for Esquire Magazine

Developing an arts scene in one of the most conservative countries on earth never going to be easy. But over the past few years, a small band of artists have scoured Saudi Arabia for a talent… And then take it out to the World.

Perhaps the most significant art space in the kingdom atpresent is the Athr gallery in Jeddah, which has regularlyrepresented the Saudi art scene at Art Dubai. Opened in 2009 by Mohammed Hafiz and Hamza Serafi in a somewhat odd location atthe top of a shopping mall, Athr has nurtured a roster of young artistswho have exhibited in fairs and biennials in Europe and Asia.Hafiz says the kingdom’s art scene has grown up rapidly in recentyears. “If you’d opened a gallery fifteen years ago, people would beasking whether the art goes with the colour of their couch or thecurtains. But now we have a different, more intellectual, audiencewho are not just thinking ‘I don’t think this will go with my rug’.“The first show, we maybe had fifty guests who we personallyrang up to invite. At the last exhibition we had to turn off the lightsto make people leave. Because of the Internet young people are veryaware of the role of art to advance self-knowledge and as a tool fordebate and how we can improve as a society. And Saudi artists arebecoming stars. Some have thousands of followers on Facebook.”

Download Article (PDF)

Islamic exhibition to open at Nelson-Atkins

August 24, 2013 - By Shea Conner for News Press

Echoes: Islamic Art and Contemporary Artists," opening at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City Aug. 31 featuring Ahmed Mater

David Zink Yi, Untitled

Saudi Arabia got its first exhibition of contemporary global video art at Athr's Gallery 'Video(works)' exihibition

July 4, 2013 - By Harper's Bazaar Art

Saudi artist Sami al-Turki discusses the event within the context of being a participant as well as an established practitioner of video art.

Download Article (PDF)

A Visit to Athr Gallery: Celebrating Saudi Arabia’s Burgeoning Art Scene

July 4, 2013 - By Sarah Zakzouk for The Arab Review.

Walking through the exhibition, there was an incredibly diverse range of material on show, ranging from documentary footage, to staged ‘performances’ and videos expressing a comical and light-hearted tone. 

Ahmed Mater: Changing the world, one photo at a time

May 31, 2013 - By Mariam Nihal for Saudi Gazette

Talking about the unfavorable side of the art world, he said he disliked developing the art scene as a strictly commercial commodity, where the art language and aesthetics transform into identifiable inflexible brands. 
Mater pursues themes that are close to him. “The themes of my artworks are personal interpretations of what I am experiencing at that particular time. My artworks are a result of a conversation between my thoughts and what I see.”

Athr Gallery opens video art exhibition

May 19, 2013 - By Mariam Nihal for Saudi Gazette

Athr Gallery stated that video (works) is an introduction to video art in the region, showcasing artworks by the likes of Ahmed Mater and his camera view of Jamrat (the stone throwing ritual in Hajj); Ziad Antar’s short art/documentary on the 2006’s war in Lebanon with a mixture of sounds and visuals; Adel Abidin’s commentary on war and pop culture; Hans Op De Beeck’s architectural video masterpiece “Staging Silence 2;” David Zink Yi’s street dance performance; and Sami Alturki’s protest on overwhelming advertising billboards in the region.

Ahmed Mater: Desert of Pharan - Statement by the Artist

April 22, 2013 - By Nafas art magazine

In the city of Makkah, a new future is being drawn up. Its contours are becoming visible amidst a landscape teeming with initiatives - from the most public to the most private - aimed at developing and reinventing seemingly fixed rituals, states and assumptions; culminating, perhaps, in the re-imagining of life at the center of the Islamic world.

Documenting the development of cities and interact with street culture

April 5, 2013 - By Osman Hassan for Khaleej Times

Mater creations in Art Dubai

March 30, 2013 - By Al-Watan

Concept centrestage

March 28, 2013 - By Shailaja Tripathi for The Hindu

Another artist whose work was widely appreciated at the fair was photographer, calligrapher and painter Ahmed Mater, whose monumental photographs document the change that is taking place in the holy city of Mecca. In his ongoing project, “The Desert of Pharan”, the artist is concerned about how construction is altering the landscape of Mecca.


Kingdom’s Athr Gallery shines at Art Dubai

March 26, 2013 - By Mohamed El Hebeishy for Arab News

In its seventh edition this year, Art Dubai hosted 75 galleries from 30 different countries showcasing the creative and artistic work of 500 artists. Saudi Arabia was represented by Athr Gallery.

Art review: Sharjah Biennial, Re:emerge: Towards a New Cultural Cartography

March 26, 2013 - By Gareth Harris for Independent

Over in another biennial venue, an abandoned building once used by the Sharjah Islamic Bank, I was taken aback by the number of works that critique aspects of Middle Eastern society. Sarah Abu Abdallah’s ‘Saudi Automobile’ mixed-media installation, 2011, takes a swipe at Saudi Arabia’s medieval law banning women drivers. Ahmed Mater’s 2012 photography series “Desert of Pharan/Room with a View”, depicting the rampant redevelopment around Mecca, is exceptional.

Art Dubai earns its stripes

March 25, 2013 - By Gareth Harris for The Art Newspaper

A Saudi collector bought an edition of a photograph from Ahmed Mater’s 2012 series “Desert of Pharan/Adam”, which caused a stir by depicting the rampant redevelopment around Mecca. The Saudi gallery Athr said that demand was high for Mater's supersized photographs of the cranes and construction work threatening to overwhelm Islam's holiest site. All three editions of the large-scale images (Artificial Light and Golden Hour, both 2012) had sold with the final edition of each work priced at $49,000.

Athr Gallery participates in Art Dubai

March 24, 2013 - By Ashraq Al-Awsat

The Art Market: players on the Gulf course

March 22, 2013 - By Georgina Adam for Financial Times

Belgian collector Guy Ullens was in a spending mood at Dubai this year. Ullens went on a $1m spree to acquire Middle Eastern artists, buying Ahmad Mater at Athr gallery, Ramin and Rokni Haerizadeh at Isabelle van den Eynde and Pascale Martine Tayou at Continua. He also reserved Ahmed Moualla's 12-metre long “Power and People” (2011), an apocalyptic scene that references the Arab Spring, for $300,000 at Atassi Gallery.

SAT Barzakh

Art Dubai

March 20, 2013 - By Astrid Mania for Art Agenda

Though Art Dubai might be a somewhat careful art fair—and certainly every fair has its share of “decorative” painting—a great number of its participants display works that lean towards social or political commentary—some more, some less subtle. Athr Gallery from Jeddah devotes one of their two booths to Saudi-Arabian born Sami Al Turki and his ongoing photographic series “Barzakh” (2012–). In these images of strangely hovering architectural structures against a vast expanse of cloudy skies, Al Turki makes a wry comment on the difficulties of finding a “home” in Saudi Arabia.

Jeddah’s Athr Gallery participates in UAE’s Art Week

March 15, 2013 - By Saudi Gazeete

Twisted metallic sculptures, monumental public installations, compelling art and bold ideas - Jeddah’s Athr Art Gallery is returning to Dubai for Art Week 2013 with their most significant engagement with the city’s annual celebration of Middle Eastern and international art to date.

Mater stages of change move the Holy city of Mecca to India

December 25, 2012 - Maryam Al Shaif - Al Sharq

وتأتي مشاركة ماطر بمجموعة جديدة (صحراء فاران – آدم)، مؤلفة من صور فوتوغرافية ولوحات فنية ومقاطع فيديو تنقل قصة الصراع بين الثقافة الشعبية ومحاولة طمسها في وجه التنمية الحديثة.
وقال ماطر، في لقاء صحفي مع صحيفة «نيويورك تايمز» الأمريكية، عن مشاركته في هذا المعرض، وعن فكرة (جبل فاران)، إن هناك علاقة وثيقة تربط الهند بجبال فاران، وهي نفسها جبال مكة المكرمة، مستشهداً بحديث رواه ابن عباس، عن هبوط النبي آدم من الجنة إلى مكة المكرمة، وهبوط زوجته حواء في الهند، وحينها بدأ آدم بالبحث في الأرض عن زوجته حتى وجدها.
وحاول ماطر في مجموعته أن يصور مراحل التغير التي مرت بها مكة المكرمة، وكيفية تأثير العمران الحديث على المدينة.

Portraits From the Kochi Biennale: Multimedia Artist Ahmed Mater

December 18, 2012 - By Minu Ittyipe for New York Times

At the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in the Kerala State city of Kochi, India Ink interviewed several exhibiting artists about their work, their expectations for the biennale and the politics of art. The fair will continue until March 13.

Ahmed Mater, 33, from Abha, Saudi Arabia, is showing “Desert of Pharan/Adam” at the biennale. He uses photographs, video installations and paintings to tell a powerful story of the obliteration of culture in the face of encroaching development.

Desert Of Pharan/Adam Ahmed Mater At The Kochi-Muziris Biennale 2012

December 13, 2012

Athr Art Gallery is proud to announce the participation of Saudi Arabian artist Ahmed Mater in the inaugural edition of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, opening this week in the coastal state of Kerala, South India.