‘Magnetic attraction’ of Makkah inspires work of Saudi visual artist Ahmed Mater

‘Magnetic attraction’ of Makkah inspires work of Saudi visual artist Ahmed Mater
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Updated 05 July 2022

‘Magnetic attraction’ of Makkah inspires work of Saudi visual artist Ahmed Mater

‘Magnetic attraction’ of Makkah inspires work of Saudi visual artist Ahmed Mater

RIYADH: Contemporary artist Ahmed Mater’s first visit to Makkah sparked a magnetic attraction to the holy site that would shape his creative outlook on life.

Similar to many Saudis, his initial interaction with the city was as a child, but his most vivid memories of visiting Makkah came during his medical university years.

He told Arab News that on one trip, surrounded by construction cranes, he felt that his “imagination was more powerful than reality. Sometimes, we dream about change. And it happens because the power of imagination creates all of this movement.”

On his parents’ promise to take him to Makkah for the first time, he said: “They told me I would face something different when in front of the Kaaba, and that I would feel a magnet attraction.”

That moment stuck with him, and he continued building on it to inspire his work through his imagination.

One of Mater’s most popular artworks, “Magnetism,” was constructed using thousands of iron particles surrounding a magnetic cuboid, a symbol of the Kaaba, which becomes the center of attraction to the small particles. “I create most of my artwork based on attraction,” he added.

The viewer’s eye is drawn toward the contrast and simplicity of the color palette, with the black elements set on white canvas and all the specs attracting simultaneously to the center. The exhibit is surrounded by four glass screens, signifying the holiness and sanctity of the performance of Hajj that should not be disturbed by outsiders.

His work also plays with the idea of repulsion.

In an essay, British writer Tim Mackintosh-Smith, said: “The Kaaba is magnet and centrifuge: going away, going back home, is the last rite of pilgrimage.”

Mater said: “I think it’s very important after the coronavirus pandemic that things come back to life. I spent more than four to five years attending Hajj as a photographer and researcher, and really, it’s one of the most beautiful scenes when you hear all of the people with one sound. And you feel it. It really cannot be described by words.”

While entrance to the city of Makkah and the Hajj performance itself is reserved strictly for those of Islamic faith, Mater caters to the curiosity of outsiders within the context of community and urbanism.

In his 2017 to 2018 exhibition, “Ahmed Mater: Makkah Journeys,” staged at the Brooklyn Museum in New York, he presented a series of multimedia artworks centering on working conditions, construction, and urban redevelopment that have characterized recent Hajj seasons.

“Sometimes it’s really about memory and about the way that our culture teaches about spirituality, imagination. Because we are a very spiritual culture, a very emotional culture, in our songs and our intimacy and families. So, I think that’s part of our life, and it’s created a lot,” he added.

In his work, “Leaves Fall in All Seasons,” a documentative on-ground video compilation, he focuses on the workers that contributed to the mass expansion of the metropolis. He noted that Makkah, as a city, had been nourished and built by Muslim immigrants and pilgrims of all backgrounds, bringing a lively and perplexing feel to the holy city.

“Everyone dreams about this Islamic world. It’s their dream to do it once in their life,” he said.

His care for the social well-being of individuals and communities, attributed to his background as a medical doctor, shows through his work as he provides audiences with a glimpse of what a journey to Makkah would be like for those unable to go.

“My opinion is that our work now represents our time now. Every time represents its moment. For example, in the 1950s and 1960s there were great artists. They represent their time, and they built this kind of beautiful history. We are now building our time and history,” Mater added.

The physician-turned-artist is a powerhouse in documenting untold stories, and he has played a leading role in establishing the Saudi art scene and legitimizing it locally and internationally.

In 2016, Mater became the first Saudi artist to hold a solo show in the US with his symbolic cities display at the Smithsonian museum’s Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in Washington, D.C.

While most artists leave their work open to audience interpretation, Mater said he hoped the research and perception behind his art reached the viewer in some way. “My artwork has personal context, it’s personal. It’s my life,” he said.

The more the visual artist has delved into Islamic collective identity, the more appealing his work has become to global audiences.

“​​I think globally but act locally. We are in our timeline now, and it represents Saudi Arabia now,” he added.


KSrelief launches project to sponsor orphans and support their families in Marib

KSrelief launches project to sponsor orphans and support their families in Marib
Updated 6 sec ago

KSrelief launches project to sponsor orphans and support their families in Marib

KSrelief launches project to sponsor orphans and support their families in Marib

RIYADH: King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSrelief) inaugurated on Tuesday a project to sponsor orphans in Yemen's Marib governorate and provide economic empowerment to their families, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The project aims to support 177 orphans in their education and living, in addition to financially supporting and empowering 50 orphans' families.

SPA stated that the orphan sponsorship project is implemented by KSrelief in three Yemeni governorates: Aden, Lahj, and Marib, targeting 536 orphans and 166 orphans' families.

Moreover, KSrelief mobile clinics have provided treatment services to the beneficiaries in Hajjah Governorate.

The clinics received 542 people with various health conditions from July 27 to Aug. 2, and provided them with the necessary medical services.
The clinics also provided 271 individuals with medications.


Saudi man allegedly killed by brother-in-law

Saudi man allegedly killed by brother-in-law
Updated 17 August 2022

Saudi man allegedly killed by brother-in-law

Saudi man allegedly killed by brother-in-law
  • The embassy expressed its full confidence in the Tunisian judiciary

RIYADH: A Saudi man has allegedly been killed by his Tunisian wife’s brother in Bizerte, Tunisia.

This is according to a statement released by the Kingdom’s embassy in Tunis, the Saudi Press Agency reported early Wednesday.

“The embassy would like to clarify that it has followed up on the details of the tragic incident since its occurrence with the concerned authorities in Tunisia.”

The embassy stated that the Kingdom was confident the Tunisian courts would deal effectively with the matter.

The body of the citizen has been returned to the Kingdom.

The embassy extended condolences to the family of the deceased.


Saudi crown prince discusses relations, joint cooperation with German chancellor Scholz

Saudi crown prince discusses relations, joint cooperation with German chancellor Scholz
Updated 17 August 2022

Saudi crown prince discusses relations, joint cooperation with German chancellor Scholz

Saudi crown prince discusses relations, joint cooperation with German chancellor Scholz

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a phone call on Tuesday from German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
During the call, they reviewed aspects of bilateral relations between the Kingdom and Germany, opportunities for joint cooperation between the two countries, and ways to develop them.
They also discussed the latest regional and international developments and efforts exerted to achieve peace and stability, in addition to reviewing the most prominent issues of common interest.


Saudi fashion brand Hindamme returns with new luxury collection

Saudi fashion brand Hindamme returns with new luxury collection
Updated 16 August 2022

Saudi fashion brand Hindamme returns with new luxury collection

Saudi fashion brand Hindamme returns with new luxury collection
  • Ready-to-wear Saudi fashion label launches “SEASON V”

RIYADH: Ready-to-wear Saudi luxury label Hindamme launched its new collection, “SEASON V,” that explores relationships to families, communities, and the Earth.

The brand, established by designer Mohammed Khoja, became well known for successfully fusing Eastern and Western cultures through modern, opulent apparel in forward-thinking, creative designs.

“Autobiographical in its spirit, the brand’s latest offering investigates the deeper and more meaningful connections in life,” said Khoja.

“What inspired this collection is bringing together the community and building new connections and reconnecting with nature. It has a very positive theme, and the reason why I wanted to create it was because I felt it was therapeutic for myself, and also the need to focus on our planet,” he added.

Through its aesthetic, “SEASON V” applies the science of color theory, with pieces that feature mood-inducing gradients as well as futuristic and nature-inspired motifs in fabrics like velvet, nylon, and satin. A joyful ode to new beginnings, “SEASON V” reflects themes of resilience, aspiration, and gratitude.

“Every time I wear the bomber jacket from (the) ‘SEASON V’ collection, people stop me and ask me where did I get it from, which is rewarding for me. The jacket has an attractive lavender color with the calligraphy of the Arabic word for ‘Earth’ on the back,” Khoja said.

HIGHLIGHT

Through its aesthetic, ‘SEASON V’ applies the science of color theory, with pieces that feature mood- inducing gradients as well as futuristic and nature-inspired motifs in fabrics like velvet, nylon, and satin. A joyful ode to new beginnings, ‘SEASON V’ reflects themes of resilience, aspiration, and gratitude.

Indeed, much of the collection reflects the designer’s love of calligraphy, with the Arabic ‘Earth’ motif applied in embossed, padded embroideries throughout several items.

“SEASON V” also introduces a specially commissioned collaboration with Kyoto-based Japanese artist Ikegami Yorikyuki, that features prints of a mural entitled “A Certain Planet” in several pieces throughout the collection.

The most recent editorial lookbook of “SEASON V” also brought together a number of Middle Eastern multi-disciplinary artists to produce a collection of prints that reflect an NFT-inspired universe that honors nature and denotes both our current connection to, and disconnection from it.

“I collaborated with a number of Arab creatives. I really look up to producing a series of artistic photography as an editorial for the new collection. It was beautiful, in a sense, as it produced a diverse fusion of art, photography and fashion within these visuals,” said Khoja.

About naming the collection “SEASON V” Khoja told Arab News: “From the beginning of establishing my brand, I decided to do drops, as what they refer to in the fashion world, rather than follow a season, and I felt like the easiest way to document each season was by giving it a number, and in this case, it was in Roman format, but I also do smaller collections between each season.”

In each of its collections, Hindamme, which in the old Arabic dialect means “to possess perfect harmony,” frequently combines different genres.

Khoja spoke about the importance of connecting young Saudi designers to investors for support, putting Saudi fashion brands in malls and showrooms.

Through Hindamme, Khoja has been a trailblazer in influencing and advancing Saudi Arabia’s fashion and cultural landscape with his “East meets West” philosophy.

He launched Hindamme in 2016, incorporating patterns like “Al-Qatt Al-Aseeri” from his native land and highlighting frequently ignored elements of heritage to a new audience in a contemporary and forward-thinking format.

He was inspired by reflecting elements of his everyday life and larger cultural and social themes through his designs.

Many of his pieces have also won recognition on a global scale and are now part of permanent collections at a number of museums.


Saudi embassy in UK honors outgoing employees

Saudi embassy in UK honors outgoing employees
Updated 16 August 2022

Saudi embassy in UK honors outgoing employees

Saudi embassy in UK honors outgoing employees

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s embassy in the UK held a ceremony on Tuesday to honor a number of employees who have ended their work term at the mission in the capital, London.
The Kingdom’s ambassador to Britain, Prince Khalid bin Bandar, expressed his thanks and appreciation to the employees for their effort and dedication in serving their religion, king and country, wishing them more success in their endeavors inside and outside the Kingdom, in the interest of the nation in various fields.