Selected highlights from Middle Eastern artists at Art Dubai 2019

Updated 01 April 2019

Selected highlights from Middle Eastern artists at Art Dubai 2019


Abdulhalim Radwi, Saudi Arabia

Radwi is regarded as one of the most significant artists in Saudi Arabian history, as one of the pioneers of modern art in the Kingdom. Much of his work referenced the historical architecture, folklore and lifestyle of his homeland. His 1989 painting, “Creation,” was exhibited at Art Dubai last week by Jeddah’s Hafez Gallery.


Manaf Halbouni, Syria

Dresden-based multimedia artist Halbouni had three sculptural works made from steel and concrete on display in Zilberman Gallery’s booth at Art Dubai. In his statement on 2013’s “Battlefield,” Halbouni explained: “Chess looks harmless like every other board game. But if you think longer about it, you see … how complicated it is. Chess is another way to play war. ‘Battlefield’ shows you a destroyed landscape with hiding trenches and walls so that the field looks like a destroyed city.”

‘Confession and Confusion’

Gözde Ílkín, Turkey

Ílkin works with repurposed fabrics she has collected over the years to create “confrontational interactions that tend to manipulate borders, gender dynamics and ferocious urban transformations.” Her abstract images, which are constructed from reworked table cloths, curtains and duvets, among other things, and “enact political relationships, feelings and promises that are failing to reach a solution, remaining in limbo,” were displayed by Cairo-based Gypsum Gallery at Art Dubai.

‘Becoming With (Blue-Red)’

Ayman Zedani, Saudi Arabia

Zedani, a contemporary artist, was the recipient of last year’s inaugural Ithra Art Prize. He’s back at Art Dubai this year with work displayed at ATHR Gallery’s booth. In an interview last year, Zedani — who studied biomedical science — said he was “interested in experimentation with different media, the properties of unconventional materials, the concept of assemblage and how objects can offer different readings in logical and metaphysical interpretations.”

‘Sumerian Sculpture’

Dia Azzawi, Iraq

Dubai’s Meem Gallery displayed a selection of recent work from the acclaimed Iraqi artist Dia Azzawi, which, the gallery said, “reflect his abiding fascination with his country’s long and storied past.” Azzawi is a trained archaeologist, and he regularly references Mesopotamian and Sumerian culture in his work. The figure in this image is based on “seated Sumerian sculptures found in the archaeological collections of museums … recognizable by its clasped arms and use of vivid color, with the left leg raised.”


George Baghory, Egypt

Baghory started out as a political cartoonist before training as a painter and sculptor, and his beginnings as a caricaturist remain evident in the stylized figures and exaggerated facial features in his later work, such as this oil painting from the 2000s. Baghory “creates work relevant to Egyptian pop culture, heritage and identity,” explained UBUNTU Art Gallery in its promo material for Art Dubai. Although the painting is untitled, it may form part of Baghory’s work focused on the legendary Egyptian vocalist Umm Kulthum.

‘Situation 10’

Hamza Bounoua, Algeria

Bounoua’s work is influenced by “Berber, Islamic and African arts and ethnicities,” according to Amman’s Wadi Finan Art Gallery, which displayed Bounoua’s latest works at Art Dubai — photographs showing the artist interacting with some of his calligraphy sculptures, continuing his exploration of letters, geometry, and shadows.

‘Paired Silhouettes’

Samia Halaby, Palestine

Halaby is widely recognized as a regional pioneer in modern art, particularly abstract works. In its biography of the artist, Ayyam Gallery explained that she “works with the conviction that new approaches to painting can redirect ways of seeing and thinking, not only within the realm of aesthetics, but also as contributions to technical and social advancement.”

‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition in Riyadh museum breathes new life into ancient sites 

Updated 19 April 2019

‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition in Riyadh museum breathes new life into ancient sites 

  • National Museum in Riyadh hosts digital show that tells the story of Mosul, Palmyra, Aleppo and Leptis Magna

JEDDAH: An exhibition that uses digital technology to revive the region’s ancient sites and civilizations that have been destroyed or are under threat due to conflict and terrorism opened at the National Museum in Riyadh on April 18.

“Age-Old Cities” tells the story of four historically significant cities that have been devastated by violence: Mosul in Iraq, Palmyra and Aleppo in Syria, and Leptis Magna in Libya. 

Using stunning giant-screen projections, virtual reality, archival documents and images, and video testimonials from inhabitants of the affected sites, the immersive exhibition transports visitors back in time and presents the cities as they were in their prime. 

It charts their journey from the origins of their ancient civilizations to their modern-day state, and presents plans for their restoration and repair. 

The exhibition has been organized by the Ministry of Culture in collaboration with the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris. Riyadh is the first stop outside the French capital on the exhibition’s global tour. 

The exhibition follows last month’s unveiling of the Kingdom’s new cultural vision, which included the announcement of several initiatives, including a new residency scheme for international artists to practice in the Kingdom and the establishment of the Red Sea International Film Festival. 

Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, minister of culture, said: “I am delighted to welcome the ‘Age-Old Cities’ exhibition to Riyadh. 

“It highlights the importance of heritage preservation, particularly here in the Middle East, and the vulnerability of some of our historic sites. 

“It must be the responsibility of governments to put an end to this damage and neglect, and to put heritage at the heart of action, investment, and policy.

“I will be encouraging my fellow members of government to attend this eye-opening exhibition in our National Museum, and hope to work in the future with partners, governments and experts to do what we can to secure our region’s heritage.”

The exhibition carries a significant message about the importance of preserving and protecting these precious but fragile sites — one which resonates strongly in the week when one of the world’s most-famous heritage sites, Paris’ Notre-Dame Cathedral, went up in flames.