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Athr Gallery, 10 years of commitment in the Saudi artistic scene

Hamza Serafi. Crédits : Soraya A. Darwish

Founded by Hamza Serafi and Mohammed Hafiz 10 years ago, Athr is a contemporary art project space based in central Jeddah. Over the years, this gallery represented Middle Eastern and international artists and enabled artistic dialogue between contemporary artists across the world.

Today, the 20,000 square feet of the gallery includes spaces for creative experimentation as well as a visual arts bookshop and a terrace for outdoor presentations. It showcases exhibitions of international and Saudi contemporary art supported by extensive public programs aimed at encouraging engagement with local audiences. Currently, it presents Wehe, a collective exhibition of artists, designers, and architects specialized in collectible design from the region. The word WEHE comes from the word waaha in Arabic and “oasis” in Greek. Oasis dwellings in particular, with their unique geographic context and the preservation of old traditions from local inhabitants, combine concepts of modern living with technology and primordial lifestyle. WEHE explores the idea of how objects could inhabit an imaginary rudimentary dwelling. 

 

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نتطلع لرؤيتكم اليوم الساعة ٩:٣٠ مساء و حتى ١:٠٠ صباحا في افتتاح معرض واحة الجماعي للتصميم. تنسيق نيكولا بيليفانس-لوكمت. الموقع: أثر، الصيرفي مول، برج المكاتب. الباب الزجاجي بجانب موبايلي بشارع التحلية، الدور الخامس. See you 9:30pm to 1am tonight for the opening of WEHE – group design show – curated by @nb_lecompte. #Athr is in Serafi Mall, Office Tower. Look for the glass door next to Mobily in the mall on Tahlia Road, 5th floor. Designers: Taher Asad-Bakhtiari Flavie Audi bahraini—danish BrickLab Omar Chakil Karen Chekerdjian Ghaith&Jad Rasha Nawam & Mary-Lynn Massoud Carlo Massoud Anastasia Nysten

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For its 10th anniversary, we met one of its founders, Hamza Serafi.

 

What was the main idea when Athr was founded, 10 years ago?

The idea was promoting and cultivating the art scene in the Kingdom through the staging and curating of exhibitions and contributing to the formation of several private and corporate collections in Saudi Arabia. Athr was founded to be one of the most progressive art spaces in Saudi and to extend beyond the commercial realm by taking on educational roles all in the name of cultivating a greater appreciation for the arts.

 

What kind of programs do you implement to engage an artistic dialogue with the local audience? 

Personally, I like to take our visitors through exhibitions and to engage them not only about the subject matter of the exhibitions but to where discussions may take us culturally. Also, we do talks with artists in residence, casual gatherings, etc. There are many initiatives we support through Saudi Art Council’s education program as well.

 

 

What is so specific to the Saudi art scene according to you and compared to the one of the Emirates?

Art is a global fabric where Saudi Arabia & UAE are growing at a different pace. Instead of focusing on what differentiates us, we focus on what we have in common and try to capitalize on that in order to prosper. There are a lot of similarities between our cultures but things may vary according to people or social context. The difference may lay in the speed of things happening. 

 

For the gallery’s 10th anniversary, what are your main objectives and projects? 

We would like to expand through developing more interests in our artists and Saudi art movement and to develop residency programs locally & regionally. But also to create allies such as Pace Gallery, in order to continue participating in international art themes and art events. We take pride in the fact that our artist Dr. Zahrah Al Ghamdi has been chosen by MOC & MISK to represent Saudi Arabia in the Venice Biennale. 

 

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أثر يتمنى لكم رمضان مبارك و كل عام و أنتم بخير. . Athr wishes you and your families a blessed Ramadan. . العمل الفني: دانة عورتاني، الحب ديني و إيماني، ٢٠١٦. يعرض حاليا في معرض "زمكان" في إثراء. Artwork: Dana Awartani, Love is my Law, Love is my Faith, 2016. Courtesy of the artist and Athr Gallery, Jeddah. Currently on view at "Zamakan" in @ithra أوقات عمل الجاليري في رمضان! من الأحد إلى الخميس ١١ صباحا – ٤ مساء ١٠ مساء – ١ صباحا السبت ١٠ مساء – ١ صباحا Our opening hours during Ramadan! Sunday to Thursday 11am – 4pm 10pm – 1am Saturdays: 10pm – 1am Image credit: @marayaartcentre

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