Arwa is a female Saudi artist, born in a military airbase in the south of Saudi Arabia. She visited the Lyon Biennale in France this year, and spoke with KAWA about her hopes and views, on the direction that art is taking in her home country. She has exhibited her work in Jeddah, Dubai and Istanbul, amongst other cities.
Can you describe the artistic scene in Jeddah?
Arwa Alneami: Art is in an amazing state of development, and of constant mobility. There are events in almost every corner of Saudi Arabia.
Compared to Riyadh, Jeddah seems to be the artistic capital of the KSA. How do you explain it?
Arwa Alneami: I personally think that all cities of the Kingdom are capitals of art, in their own unique way.
Which topics are most represented by young Saudi artists?
Arwa Alneami: There is a desire to express opinions regarding multimedia, through multimedia. Also, the constant movement of life. I demand that the upcoming generation not disregard the messages carried via art, and that they not forget they may be compromising the artistic heritage of Saudi Arabia. Don’t forget that you have Identity.
How did you find the Lyon Biennale?
Arwa Alneami: I found the Lyon Biennale very nice! I enjoyed interacting with the many artworks – it was very beautiful.
Tell us about a Saudi woman who inspires you?
Arwa Alneami: Fatima Abou Gahas was the most popular artist in the Asir province. She specialized in painting frescos in the traditional sitting rooms of houses, an ancient art called Al Quut. Truly a beautiful and powerful personality, and a creative inspiration.
What are the opportunities for a young artist in Saudi Arabia?
Arwa Alneami: Opportunities are now multiplying boundlessly, and are elevated by an openness and interest towards art, whether from the Government or from individuals. We find that every artist has a platform now, allowing people to experience his or her art.
How has Saudi Arabia changed over the last 10 years?
Arwa Alneami: There’s a big and rapid change. In fact, I often hope to remain on the right track, because we are in a state of rapid artistic explosion and the real artist must learn how to harness and enjoy this. It helps in developing their message; in this life, every artist has a message.