DUBAI: The 2021 edition of Art Dubai, set to kick off on March 29, will welcome first-time gallery participants from Europe and the Middle East. Among the newcomers to the fair is the recently founded Mono Gallery, based in Riyadh. Founded in 2017, the Mono Gallery was established by Saudi businessman and medical engineer Momen Al-Muslimani, who sought to go beyond the monotonous lifestyle of his daily job as CEO of his company. In an atypical move, he ventured into the art world.
“I lost the excitement of challenges — of failure and success — and I started to look for something new,” he told Arab News from his office, decorated with a number of artworks created by the artists he supports.
The turning point in Al-Muslimani’s career was when he came across inspiring posts on Instagram that showed him how art can have a profound effect on people.
“I thought, ‘Okay, let me discover this world,’ and I was keen to visit every art exhibition in Saudi Arabia, from Jeddah to Dammam and Alkhobar,” he said.
The lack of a gallery presence in Riyadh encouraged him to take action.
As director of his gallery, he currently represents a variety of artists who hail from the Arab world. Although the gallery’s name is phonetically similar to Al-Muslimani’s first name, he intentionally avoided naming it after himself.
“I care about art and the artists,” he said. “I want to present them to the world and show that I am standing behind them. ‘Mono’ means a single, independent line. With that name, I wanted to express the idea that Mono Gallery has its own DNA or identity and is not a copy of anybody else.”
At the fair, the gallery will present an all-women’s line-up of works by four Saudi artists — Reem Al-Faisal, Lulwah Al-Homoud, Tarfah Al-Saud and Kholood Al-Bakr — and one emerging artist from Egypt, Amani Mousa. Exploring photography, geometry, and architecture, each multidisciplinary artist brings to light her own experience and interests as explored through art.
After what has been a challenging year for the arts sector due to the pandemic, Al-Muslimani believes it is more important than ever to participate this year at the fair. “I felt a responsibility toward Art Dubai,” he says. “They gave us the confidence, and they guided and helped us to present our artists and our identity. We have to pay them back by standing with them, also in hard times.”