DHAHRAN: The organizers of an art exhibition in the Eastern Province want to become a platform for contemporary art in the Kingdom.
Zamakan, which runs in Dhahran until Sept. 23 at the King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture (Ithra), showcases the work of 11 Saudi and Saudi-based artists.
“This exhibition features the work of only Saudi and Saudi-based artists,” Laila Al-Faddagh, head of museums at Ithra, told Arab News. “Through these exhibitions and art prizes that we do, we really do try to make ourselves a platform for contemporary arts in Saudi Arabia.”
A tweet on the official @IthraWorld account shows a video tour of the exhibition space. Visitors are seen engaging with colorful and diverse pieces on display and discussing them.
Artist Sara Abdu said her work, “Communing with the self, as I commune with Him,” was inspired by a prayer mat which she inherited from an uncle.
“I’ve always been thinking about the relationship between humans and objects and the psychology behind the sentimental value,” she told Arab News. “Then I started thinking about the function of that prayer mat. It is a space where we get disconnected from everything that we reject, to reconnect with our true self, with God, and be true at that moment. I wanted to achieve that state through art, through the act of repetition.”
The artist, who is of Yemeni origin and was born in Jeddah, completed a residency program in Paris in 2017 and first exhibited at the Saudi Art Center in 2014.
“I used ink to produce the piece and the more I spent time working on this piece, the more order I found within me. You will find that there is more order and consistency — it is kind of documentation or a timeline that documents my state at that moment and the fact that I am using ink allows making mistakes and showing them peacefully. It is like taking that inward journey outwardly, making the private public in a way.”
Zamakan is a fusion of the Arabic words for time (zaman) and space or place (makan).
Each piece of art in Zamakan explores questions around space and time, the future and how space and time influence someone’s outlook.
The artists share a location, but they interpret time and space in their own way. Some through nature, some through numbers, some through sound waves.
Ashraf Fagih, division head of communications and partnerships at Ithra, said Zamakan was one of four galleries at the Ithra museum.
“This one is dedicated to contemporary art and the mission of this place, as is the mission of Ithra, is to nurture and to support Saudi talent and Saudi national content as well,” he told Arab News.
“That is exactly what is happening ... 11 Saudi and Saudi-based artists are representing their concepts of time and space. Zamakan is a word that represents these two physical dimensions.
“We are allowing the public to get in touch here in the Eastern Province with the artists themselves and with the work, the way time and space are being represented differently represents how Saudis view the world from different perspectives.
“They speak different mental languages as art is a mental state that is being represented physically and manifested physically eventually.”
Fagih said he was proud of Ithra’s dedication to spreading knowledge. The art on display rewarded the heart and mind, he added.
“It is part of Ithra’s mission to disseminate knowledge, to ignite inspiration and to create a bridge between world cultures. There are a lot of expat and international visitors, international media. We believe this revealed another colorful dimension of Saudi identity through the works of Saudi artists.”
Zamakan is part of the Sharqiah Season, which aligns with the goals of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 reform plan to enrich the lives of people in the Kingdom through cultural, educational, sports, and entertainment events and programs.
The season featured 83 events across nine cities, attracting 730,000 visitors to events as diverse as a French Montana concert and an air contest.