DHAHRAN: London-based Saudi Arabian artist Daniah Alsaleh was announced on Thursday as the winner of the second edition of the Ithra Art Prize. The prize is a joint initiative between the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra) and Art Dubai, launched in 2017 with the aim of supporting and promoting emerging Saudi contemporary artists on a global platform.
Ithra is a cultural and creative hub based in Dhahran, dedicated to showcasing local and global talent. It made TIME Magazine’s 2018 list of the world’s 100 best places to visit.
Alsaleh will receive $100,000 to help realize her proposed artwork, which will be exhibited at Art Dubai before moving to Ithra as part of the center’s permanent collection. The inaugural winner, Sharjah-based conceptual artist Ayman Zedani’s commission, “Meem,” was exhibited at Art Dubai last year.
In a press release, Ithra and Art Dubai said the second edition had received twice as many applications from Saudi artists and collectives as the debut edition.
Alsaleh’s winning proposal was selected by a committee consisting of Ithra’s curatorial team, along with international art experts Mona Khazindar and Anna Seaman.
Alsaleh was born in Riyadh in 1970. She is currently completing a Master’s in Fine Art in Computational Art at Goldsmiths University of London.
Through her work, the release said, she “addresses notions of the unobtrusive, the ordinary and the common, using geometry and pattern as a form of expression, and crossing disciplines from painting to developing generative art processes with code.”
Alsaleh’s proposal, which was described by the selection committee as “powerful and thoroughly captivating,” focuses on the structure of language. It is called “Sawtam,” which translates as “phoneme,” a unit of sound.
Ali Al-Mutairi, Ithra’s director, said: “After the successful opening of the center last year, we are thrilled to see the Ithra Art Prize proceed in its second edition. Our key commitment remains to support and promote Saudi and Saudi-based artistic talent, and we are delighted to partner with Art Dubai once more on this prize.
“The committee’s response to Daniah’s work was unanimous and we are looking forward to supporting her closely as she works on the commission, and look forward to its reveal in March.”
“I am thrilled to have been chosen as the winner for the second edition of the Ithra Art Prize and look forward to showcasing my work at Art Dubai,” Alsaleh said in a statement. “With its many initiatives to support Saudi artists like myself, Ithra has made a tangible difference in the development of Saudi Arabia’s art scene and I’m honored and humbled to be associated with such a prestigious project and organization.”