Hafez Gallery is one of the few Saudi Arabia-based galleries featured in the 12th edition of Art Dubai — arguably the region’s most influential art gathering.
Founded in Jeddah in 2014, Hafez Gallery claims to engage “the art community to visually converse and explore Saudi and Middle Eastern modern and contemporary art” and to “nurture the discovery of a Saudi visual identity and participate in the international art dialogue.”
Art Dubai 2018 is split into three main collections: Contemporary; Modern — devoted to masters from the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia; and Marker — a curated section of art spaces that focuses each year on a particular theme or geography.
This year, Hafez Gallery is participating in both Art Dubai Modern and Art Dubai Contemporary with a collection of works that includes photography, acrylics, etching and calligraphy.
In Art Dubai Modern, Hafez Gallery will present the work of two Russian-educated GCC artists: Saudi Abdulsattar Al-Mussa’s “Dancing” (from his series “Wedding in Al-Refaa”), and Kuwaiti Thuraya Al-Baqsami’s “No to the Invasion.”
Al-Mussa’s drawings examine daily social scenes, such as cafés and the energy of their employees. He is one of the few professional Saudi artists to have studied complex typography, carving and graphic art.
Al-Baqsami is a singular voice in the region. She does not bow in the face of societal and political pressure. Her exposure to a multitude of cultures shows in the mélange of history, concept and form presented in her work.
In the Contemporary section, Hafez will showcase artworks from several artists, including “My Palm, Your Palm, Our Palm” by multidisciplinary artist Ahaad Al-Amoudi, whose work intersects the past and present of Saudi Arabia. Al-Amoudi is interested in how communities measure and promote heritage through archiving and how different historical narratives weave through families and communities.
Damascus-born artist Osama Esid’s photography explores personal identity — he has lived in both the US and Egypt. Hafez will show Esid’s “Mona” at Art Dubai, as well as work from other regional artists including Nora Al-Issa, Filwa Nazer, Abdulrahman Al-Shahed and Ibrahim El-Dessouki.
Qaswara Hafez, founder of Hafez Gallery, spoke to Arab News about its participation in Art Dubai.
“Dubai has become a hub for museum directors, curators, and art-world professionals from all over the world,” he said. “Art Dubai commands the respect of the global art community and elicits the participation of galleries and artists from around the world. It is integral to the local art community, representing the state of the region’s art to define where our culture stands at the moment.”
He continued, “We focus on works that reflect the Middle East and discuss its rich culture and diverse standpoints. We don’t select art in isolation — I have to be able to establish a human connection with the artists before anything, after that comes our belief in their projects and the social contribution of their artworks.”