JEDDAH: AucArt, the world’s first online art auction house selling only work by emerging talent, is planning a sale of digital art created by young Saudi artists.
The initiative is part of a plan by Saudi curator Marriam Mossalli, founder of Saudi Arabia’s leading luxury communications consultancy Niche Arabia, to support aspiring young Saudi artists, providing them with promotional opportunities to sell artworks and reach new audiences.
Mossalli said that she set up the initiative to connect young local creatives with international brands and companies in order to “accurately portray the Saudi aesthetic.”
“I am aiming to give young Saudi creatives the freedom to tell their own story without others assuming their voices. This is crucial to changing the cultural landscape of modern Saudi Arabia,” Mossalli told Arab News.
“In some way or another, the Saudi region represents ‘home’ for these artists, a home in which they significantly contribute to its thriving art movement.”
She added: “Though proud of their cultural heritage, these artists are also looking to test the boundaries of self-expression within a region known for its famously conservative values.”
She said that Saudi art in the past was characterized by color, ornate patterns and elaborate Islamic calligraphy, and was viewed as a hobby rather than a livelihood.
“These artists, therefore, are pioneers of a flourishing industry which has not yet been wholly accepted as a means of living. In recent years, support and patronage of Saudi art has only increased, which is why we are so excited to be welcoming these artists to the AucArt roster this month,” the curator said.
The cutting-edge artists work in a broad range of mediums, including paint, collage, photography and video. Some view the process by which their works are made as a means of therapy, engaging with emotive forms such as dance, while others actively and critically investigate the changing cultural and political dynamics of the Kingdom, commenting on ideas about gender and religion.
What is clear to the viewer, however, is the contrast between the joy and temporality experienced by individuals within society.
Emerging contemporary artists such as Badr Ali and Nasser Al-Mulhim say that online art galleries have given them a valuable opportunity to show and sell their work.
Painter Badr Ali, 29, said: “As an emerging artist straight out of college, it was very easy to get into dodgy deals with art agents that you were never really taught how to deal or work with, especially in terms of contracts, reading the fine print, and understanding what is an appropriate balance between your obligations as an artist versus the organization to which you are consigning your work.”
He added: “Working with AucArt is convenient because the relationship is laid out quite clearly, especially in terms of the costs regarding delivery of the work, which AucArt takes care of — something that is quite uncommon, especially since it’s not exactly a gallery.”
Al-Mulhim, whose work will be featured in AucArt, said that it is an honor to be featured on the platform.
“I am always learning from the beauty of the artists’ creations that you share with us. It has helped me to let go of certain dark energies and deal with my depression by gazing into the light of the artists’ creations,” he said.
“It inspired me to dig deeper within my soul, face my own shadow, and express my internal energies through painting. I always remind myself that the world needs us, creative people, to bring joy and happiness.”
Commenting on her support for Saudi artists, Natasha Arselan, founder of AucArt, said that she is delighted to be hosting the platform’s first Saudi Arabian sale. “I have found this part of our journey fascinating, discovering the juxtaposition between the traditional and the avant-garde processes of Saudi’s most promising emerging talent,” she said. “It’s a joy to work with Marriam, with whom I share a mission to highlight and elevate local talent to an international audience.”