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Dana Awartani turned history into mesmerizing works of art

March 2, 2018 - Mariam Nihal for Saudi Gazette

A book of poetry entitled Classical Poems by Arab Women and Mughal era inspired mesmerizing works of art by Saudi artist Dana Awartani. Torn between the era of Mughals and classical poetry, she methodically reconfigured and crafted a nostalgic series of Islamic art and ‘Jali’ work with artisans in India on silk panels reminiscent of the royal era. Known to reinvent classic and sacred works of the past with a contemporary style, Awartani does not disappoint in her latest work for 21,39 Jeddah Arts at Athr gallery.

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How the Saudi art scene is determined to keep up with the changes of its country

February 13, 2018 - Melissa Gronlund for The National

There is at present a remarkable flowering of the Jeddah art scene, a sense that the young and reforming country of Saudi Arabia – having been relatively isolated from the rest of the world – has something new and different to offer on the artistic stage.

Jeddah’s yearly arts festival, 21,39, took place last week, and its ancillary events this year stretched across the country. Organisers took international visitors to Dammam, on the country’s east coast, to see the gorgeously high-spec Ithra: King Abdullah Aziz Centre for World Culture, the Saudi Aramco-funded art and cultural space that opens later this year, as well as to the King Abdullah Economic City to see the country’s first-ever solo show, Drum Roll, Please of Ahmed Mater.

The Clocks Are Striking Thirteen, curated by one of Athr Gallery’s former directors, Maya El Khalil, showed works that played with materiality and symbolism in novel ways. And it had feeling: there was a sense of things at stake.

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This Saudi Artist Upcycles Candy Wrappers to Make Strong Statements

April 25, 2017 - Sofia Martensson for VOGUE Arabia

This month, Athr is presenting Saudi artists Ghada Al-Rabea’s first solo exhibition, titled Sidi Shahin. Ghada tells Vogue Arabia that the name of the exhibition comes from a tradition in Medina that celebrates the upcoming Holy Month of Ramadan, when kids sing songs and knock on neighbors doors asking for candy.

Ghada Al-Rabea’s solo exhibition at ATHR takes place from April 30th until June 1st in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

 

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Only Saudi gallery at Art Dubai 2017 boasts unexpected art

March 16, 2017 - Saffiya Ansari for Arab News

Art Dubai 2017, the international summit of the arts, has opened with a record-breaking bang with galleries from 43 countries showcasing the best of the global scene.

With 93 galleries representing more than 500 artists, one gallery stands out for many Saudis visiting the region’s largest art fair.

Jeddah’s Athr Gallery is the only gallery from Saudi Arabia present at Art Dubai, and is drawing interest from passersby due to its unique collection.

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Five female Gulf artists highlight Jeddah’s art scene

February 1, 2017 - By Lulwa Shalhoub for Arab News

An exhibition entitled “And Along Came Polyester” is opening at Athr art platform, based at Serafi Mega Mall’s office towers, featuring five solo presentations by female artists from the Gulf.

The exhibition, alongside two others opening on the same day, is part of the 21,39 Jeddah Arts non-profit initiative organized by the Saudi Art Council.

“This is the first time to host five women from the (Gulf) region to present at Athr,” Leila Evangelista, one of the organizers at Athr, told Arab News.

“The story behind the title of the exhibition is that polyester is a material derivative from oil. Oil has been the main source of economic strength in the area from which the artists come.”

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The 8 Best Booths at Art Berlin Contemporary

September 16, 2016 - By Louisa Elderton for Artsy Editorial

Recent Slade School of Art grad Haidar’s poetic works see embroidered postcards stacked in racks atop white plinths. According to Athr’s Maryam Bilal, the artist “moved to England because of the war in Lebanon, so being a refugee is always a theme of her work. She wants the embroidery to expand elements in the postcards, cities, and landscapes that she finds most beautiful.” Within the works (each stand priced at £1,800) picket fences are sewn with black thread; swimmers lounging around municipal swimming pools are given lobster-red lifejackets. The series, titled “Wish You Were Here,” is “about this feeling of wanting to go home,” Bilal noted.

‘Symbolic Cities’ Captures Changing Landscapes of Mecca

May 3, 2016 - By Karin Sun for The Washington Diplomat

“Symbolic Cities,” which Mater shot over three years, explores the impact of urbanization and economic change on the landscapes of his native Saudi Arabia through long-form photography and video. The exhibit consists of large-scale photographic works, shot in color, as well as two short films and a collection of smaller photographs.

Viewers traveling through the exhibit begin with “The Empty Land,” a series of 15 photographs that depict parched Saudi landscapes devoid of human presence, abandoned public works projects and discarded oil barrels — objects that represent the abandonment of traditional values and agrarian ways of life in the face of modernization.

Ahmed Mater’s first US solo exhibition opens at Smithsonian

April 6, 2016 - By Denisze Marray for Arab News

The first US solo exhibition of the renowned Saudi artist, Ahmed Mater, has opened this week at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington DC. The ‘Symbolic Cities’ exhibition, presented in collaboration with Culturunners in partnership with Art Jameel, will be on display at the Arthur M Sackler Gallery until Sept. 18. 

Symobilic Cities - Washington D.C

March 29, 2016 - By Sean Foley for Culturnners

This week the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery begins hosting “Symbolic Cities,” the first solo show in America dedicated to the works of Ahmed Mater, one of Saudi Arabia’s top young artists and intellectuals. Over the last decade, Mater has been among the leading figures in an artistic movement that has altered both what is discussed in public and the manner in which contentious issues are presented. Today the artistic movement includes men and women working in genres from animation to film to standup comedy.

Ahmed Mater exhibition in US capitol explores urban transformation in the Kingdom

March 14, 2016 - By Saudi Gazette

Saudi artist Ahmed Mater will present his first US solo exhibition at the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C. “Symbolic Cities” is being presented in collaboration with Culturunners in partnership with Art Jameel, a Community Jameel initiative, and Saudi Arabian Society for Culture and Arts (SASCA), and will be on view at the Smithsonian’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery from March 19 through Sept. 18.


The exhibition will be accompanied by an immersive program of dialogues and discussions across Washington D.C.