Publication Date: 
Wed, 2010-03-17 17:00

Modern art was born in Saudi Arabia during the late fifties. Until the mid-eighties, there were very few female painters. The Exhibition “Riyadh Yesterday and Today” held in Paris in December 1986,  featured only three female painters, (Iaatidal Atiwi, Badira Al-Nassir and Safia Bin Zagr), the remaining 29 artists were men.
This ratio is no longer representative of the Saudi artistic arena. Since the 1970s, there has been a growing number of Saudi women artists, who are not only active on the local scene but also exhibit regularly abroad.
Al-Bagshi, born in Hofuf in 1975, is currently studying for her Master’s degree. She is a founding member of the Saudi Society for Plastic Arts and heads the Women’s Committee of the Arts and Culture Association. Her work has been exhibited in numerous countries including Germany, Korea, India, Egypt, Bangladesh, Azerbaijan, Gulf States, Pakistan and Lebanon to name but a few.
Al-Bagshi’s sculptural portraits, with their long necks and noses, simplified features and elongated faces, remind us of the genial Italian painter, Amedeo Modigliani. Incidentally, Al-Bagshi had not heard or seen any of Modigliani’s art work, at the time she was creating this series of portraits.
By the strength of her neatly delimited contours, she succeeds in creating the illusion of three-dimensionality. The figure is isolated as a kind of sculptural relief, through firm and sharp contour drawing. The simple yet brilliant use of line creates a sense of volume, an impression of movement, a breath of life!
Each portrait expresses a powerful feeling which affects the female subject, mentally and physically. One painting shows a young woman coiled up on the floor, her head gently resting on her knees. Her pensive mood stands out against the fiery red abaya she is wearing. Her apparent serene face hides a heart rocked by a sea of emotions. Overwhelmed by this turbulence of sentiments, she yearns for peace and harmony hence, the foetal position symbolizing the return to a sheltered life devoid of problems and responsibilities.
Another portrait shows a woman with a piercing, inquisitive look. Her hand placed on her left cheek, emphasizes a feverish state of mine. The dual use of color on the face tells us that she is struggling with her feelings. She has to take a decision and the inability to choose is making her sick. She is probably not eating properly, having lost her appetite, hence the use of yellow and white denoting a pale and sick looking face. But we are immediately drawn to a vigorous red heart standing up on the table. The heart symbolizes not only the power of love but also the potential of its regenerative qualities plant. This spirited little plant, growing forcefully out of the heart, shows that love breathes a new life into a person’s heart. A new love brings along new expectations and the hope for a better life.
Al-Bagshi’s low profile hides a strong personality. Her paintings reflect her character. She is attached to her traditions, her culture and at the same time she likes movement and always looks ahead. Her portraits convey a wide range of emotions reflected in a mesmerizing look of the eyes, and an intense facial expression. Fleeting moments are forever suspended in time on the canvas and feelings are trapped in a web of colors. Through her paintings, Al-Bagshi challenges us, the viewers, to analyze and understand her message. She also gives us the opportunity to discover and share intimate moments behind the veil.
For more information on Tagreed Al-Bagshi’s art visit:

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