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5 galleries to visit in Saudi Arabia

While Saudi Arabia has just opened its doors to tourists from across the globe, zoom on five galleries across the peninsula.

If the opening of the Saudi kingdom to international tourists is quite fresh, it is different for museums and galleries. For many years, local artists and entrepreneurs have been trying to put the Arabian Peninsula on the map of art, by promoting local artists but also developing relations with international cultural institutions.

A mission they accomplish throughout few galleries which are attracting more and more visitors, gaining notoriety at international fairs such as Beirut Art Fair or Art Paris. Zoom on five of them:

Athr, Jeddah

Located on the edge of the Red Sea, in Jeddah, Athr Gallery celebrated its tenth anniversary this year. Founded by Hamza Serafi and Mohammed Hafiz, this gallery is dedicated for now a decade to place the contemporary Saudi artists under the spotlights of the international art stage, presenting many local artists but also regional ones. Recently it has exhibited Artissima 2019, an installation designed by several Saudi and Middle Eastern artists such as Ayman Yossri-Daydban, Sultan Fahad Bin, Aya Haidar, or Mohamed Monaiseer. This was an artistic reflection on the current place of the kingdom, embracing the 21st century while remaining guardian of the sacred temples of Islam. But also on its heritage as a crossroads of cultures.

 

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Working with textiles, as ‘home productions’, Aya Haidar counters the nostalgic notion of the ‘domestic.’ Instead, Out of Service positions the domestic as a political site and its proximity for Haidar to artistic work, to affect, repetition, care work, paid/unpaid, cleaning, parenting, the working body. New work has been developed over a 9-month period through conversations, workshops and time spent with cultural workers working with a focus on domestic and immaterial labour. . . . Aya Haidar, Out of Service Closing soon: October 27 📸 Photography by Mark Blower, courtesy of Cubitt Artists @cubitt_gallery @iamayahaidar #London أيه حيدر، معرض شخصي: خارج الخدمة سيغلق قريباً: أكتوبر ٢٧ كيوبت غاليـري ، لندن، المملكة المتحدة

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Naila Art, Riyadh

More than opening the global art scene to the Saudi audience, the Naila Gallery is also a platform supporting emerging local artists. Through a series of temporary exhibitions organized in partnership with international cultural institutions, as well as its collection, it offers a complete showroom of the regional artistic creation. It also provides a training space and encourages the development of the Saudi art scene through workshops, talks and other activities. It has recently exhibited the artist Tagreed Al Baghshi, a Saudi artist from al Khobar also a founding member of the Saudi fine arts society, famous for its abstract and anti-stereotypical representations of the Saudi woman.

 

L’Art Pur, Riyadh

Part of a complex of more than 520 square meters, the Pure Art Gallery is one of the oldest in Saudi Arabia (with the Rochan Jeddah Gallery). Founded twenty years ago by the Saudi princess Adwa Yazid bin Abdallah Al Saud, herself artist and member of the Saudi art community, she includes, the gallery is also the country’s first art school. A pioneering institution in the kingdom which was the first to support and encourage Saudi and regional talents by organizing exhibitions in partnership with embassies and international cultural institutions.

 

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زرت الأسبوع الماضي معرض بيهانس الفني في الرياض والذي استعرض فيه عدد من الفنانين والفنانات السعوديين إبداعاتهم المميزة، ومن ضمن الأعمال التي راقت لي لوحة "العنصرية" للمياء النعيم، والتي تعكس تناقض النظرة العنصرية للآخرين وهشاشتها. @lo0oly_1400 وكذلك لوحة قصص جحا لعواطف آل صفوان، والتي تحكي عدداً من طرائف جحا التراثية كما صورتها مُخيلة الفنانة @awatefalsafwan 😊 Was happy to observe the artworks of some of the young Saudi artists last week!

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Hafez Gallery, Jeddah

It has been five years since the Hafez Gallery exhibits the best of internationally recognized contemporary artists, as the youngest members of the emerging Saudi scene. Amongst the list of artists, it represents: young Saudis like Lulwah Al Homoud, presented in the 2018 exhibition of Saudi artists at the Arab World Institute, but also the Lebanese – Saudi pop artist Ali Chaaban or the famous Franco-Brazilian photographer Sebastio Salgado.

Dawi gallery, Al Khobar

Founded by Saudi artist Madawi bint Mansoor Albaz, also a member of the Women’s Art World and founder of a center for fine art training and management, the Dawi gallery has since exhibited local and international artists. It also contributes to creating a new generation of artists in the country by offering many painting classes for children.