JEDDAH: Saudi artists and brothers Abdulnasser and Ajlan Gharem are the founders of a not-for-profit art studio dedicated to encouraging individual thought and self-expression.
Having first opened in 2013, Gharem Studio has served as a launching platform for many young Saudi artists across multiple artistic disciplines.
The Gharem brothers founded their art studio with the goal of helping kick-start the careers of budding but undiscovered Saudi artists.
The studio has collaborated with the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) in Dhahran and has toured 10 art exhibitions within the US, with each exhibition featuring between 30 and 35 artists.
Their dedication to cultivating the Saudi contemporary art scene has helped expose many talented up-and-coming local artists.
“Art has become a platform to which audiences and curators can gather and conversation can begin,” said Abdulnasser.
“As artists, we always look to light the spark of a conversation. Right now, we are living in a time of great change, especially with Vision 2030, which has invigorated the cultural body with energy and vibrancy, and I believe it is now up to young men and women to invest in those resources.”
Ajlan is a multi-disciplinary artist with an interest in how Saudis articulate their culture through art.
In a world of increased globalization, he is particularly interested in Saudi culture and the constant change of power dynamics. In the current climate of rapid development across the Gulf region, Ajlan’s work focuses on the balance of power between the individual and the state, with an emphasis on his generation’s ability to create change.
Ajlan received his undergraduate degree in mathematics at King Khalid University and he has frequently used his formal analytical training to influence his art.
His most famous art installation has been his conceptual work, “Paradise Has Many Gates.”
The art piece has been displayed in Saudi Arabia, the US, Bahrain, and most recently in Canada’s Vancouver Biennale.
The life-sized conceptual art installation has the structural appearance of a mosque consisting completely of chain-linked steel fence materials.
While the controversial artwork may invoke feelings of restriction or unrest through its caged structure, it also symbolizes religious transparency.
Being exhibited in a Western country, the piece invites viewers to recognize the way Islam is unfairly perceived.