Author: Gargee Chakravarty, firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday 27 April 2011
The Al Faisaliah Hotel, a Rosewood Hotel, announced the opening of Globe Gallery, a new contemporary art space in Riyadh. Situated atop the Al Faisaliah Tower and just below the Globe restaurant, the Globe Gallery marked its opening with the first pop art exhibition to be held in the Kingdom. The collaborative exhibition, titled “Pop Goes Riyadh,” took place from April 19 to April 29. It was curated by Lam Art Gallery and featured works of Saudi Arabia’s top pop artists, including: Talal Al-Zeid, Abdalrahman Abujabal, Lanood as well as a number of art students from the Art Skills Institute.
It was a good effort by the organizers to showcase Saudi Arabia's burgeoning pop art talent and give the artists a fantastic platform to exhibit their work. There were paintings, photographs, installations and even funky abayas to admire. Non-serious and almost playful in nature, the artworks were as far from abstract expressionism as can be imagined. Thus, it was more appealing to the younger, discerning and culturally savvy audience of the city.
The works of Talal Al-Zeid, heavily inspired by comic book heroes among other things, was a joy to perceive. By his own admission, his art work is "intentionally left vague and confusing, making the viewer uncertain, yet curious and allowing him to think than just look." One such series of works, titled “Excellent,” “Very Good” and “Bad” was intriguing. Bold Arabic words depicting the titles make the pictures, and filled within the hollow of these words are stamped letters that mean just the opposite. It was a classic way of representing deceptive use of epithets in a fun way.
Pop art is captivating in the sense that it makes you conjure up your own interpretation when you stand in front of it. Artist Abdalrahman Abujabal explained more clearly: "Lots of people have told me they can see a figure looming over the rest of the objects in my painting 'Irezumi'. I have not consciously made an effort to draw this figure, but I am certainly happy to see that people make the effort to understand my thoughts."
Abujabal's works that stood out were “Magnolia,” “Jupitar Jazz,” “Cab” and “China Town,” which are vibrant and colorful expressions of everyday experiences and feelings. These digitally composed paintings clearly show his artistic flair with color and form.
Another artist who impressed with her work was Sarah De Raiken with her series called “Psychedelic.” These are a series of three canvases with brilliant splashes of color on a white background and a corner torn from each to reveal a web of colored strings. The artist has based her work on the Rorschach test, which is a psychological test using ink blots to "give the impression of emotions exploding through colors."
Sarah’s work titled “Action and Reaction” was also visually very attractive as was her installation called “Change.” She seems to be an artist to look out for in the future.
Lanoud’s art toys were perfect and so were the colorful shoes titled “Lost in Wonderland” by Budoor Al-Garaawi. Although there were many that caught the eye, there were also some that looked too commercial for an exhibition. Pop art isn’t just about pictures of material realities of everyday life on a canvas. It’s about finding the element in it that would make it intriguing.
"I am for an art that takes its forms from the lines of life itself, that twists and extends and accumulates and spits and drips and is heavy and coarse and blunt and sweet and stupid as life itself," said American pop artist Claes Oldenburg about pop art not so long ago.
Looking at the following, this form of art enjoys all over the world, one could safely say that pop art is here to stay and will provide us with more of these blunt, stupid and sweet creations.