Saudi artists enriching 2023 Bienalsur in Argentina

Hmoud Alattawi’s artwork titled ‘connections,’ is made of digital tasbih rings and highlights the use of hands in religious practices. (Instagram/wasm_studio)
1 / 2
Hmoud Alattawi’s artwork titled ‘connections,’ is made of digital tasbih rings and highlights the use of hands in religious practices. (Instagram/wasm_studio)
Saudi artists enriching 2023 Bienalsur in Argentina
2 / 2
The Bienalsur will go on to collaborate with its network of associative museums, cultural centers and universities across the world to circle the exhibition. Later versions of the show will include additional works by seven additional Saudi artists. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 12 August 2023
Follow

Saudi artists enriching 2023 Bienalsur in Argentina

Saudi artists enriching 2023 Bienalsur in Argentina
  • Themed ‘Strangers in the Palace,’ the multipolar exhibition will be displayed in 170 venues in 70 cities globally

RIYADH: A group of Saudi artists are reaching new heights through their participation in the opening of the Bienalsur, the International Contemporary Art Biennale of South America, in Argentina’s capital city Buenos Aires.

The National Museum of Decorative Arts transformed under the 2023 theme “Strangers in the Palace.” The show was inaugurated by Anibal Jozami, general director of Bienalsur, and Diana Wechsler, the exhibition’s artistic director and curator.

Bienalsur showcases the works of more than 400 artists of 27 nationalities, including three Saudi artists: Hmoud Al-Attawi, Saad Al-Howede and Sara Abdu. Their works are part of the Argentinian leg of the international exhibition.




‘Millat Ibrahim’ by Saad Al-howede. (Supplied)

Al-Howede told Arab News: “Saudi artists in international art events of the size of the Bienalsur, or any major international exhibitions, enhances the presence of Saudi artists globally, increases their value, and contributes to the creation of a cultural movement based on an authentic culture rooted in human history.

“It also boosts the Kingdom’s art sector, promotes the spread of Saudi art and creates a cultural dialogue consistent with the nature of participation in an important global biennial.”

Following its egalitarian principles, the Bienalsur is the first world-traveling multipolar contemporary art biennale and will collaborate with its network of associative museums, cultural centers and universities across the world during its 2023 run.

My artwork covers the three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These three religions are spread in Argentina, have their active presence and are homogeneous and in harmony. The concept of my artwork enhances this harmony and rapprochement.

Saad Al-Howede, Saudi artist

Later versions of the show will include additional works by seven Saudi artists: Zahra Al-Ghamdi, Hatem Al-Ahmad, Saeed Gamhawi, Saeed Gebaan, Tasnim Sultan, Moath Aloifi and Shahad Yousef.

In 2019, Saudi Arabia became the first Middle Eastern country to host the Bienalsur at the National Museum in Riyadh. This year will be Saudi Arabia’s third collaboration with Bienalsur.




Saad Al-Howede, Saudi artist

At the opening of the exhibition, Wechsler said: “The Kingdom was the first country in the Middle East to join the Bienalsur network. For us at Bienalsur, working with artists from the Kingdom is a wonderful opportunity to experience diversity and exchange.”

The title of the exhibition is a nod to the contrasting nature of the contemporary artworks and the space they are exhibited in.

Wechsler added: “The National Museum of Decorative Arts is located in a historical palace that hosts a unique collection of classical artworks and artifacts. The title also reflects the international nature of the exhibition, as artists from all over the world come to exhibit in Argentina, thus contributing to cultural exchange through art.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• The International Contemporary Art Biennale of South America opened in Buenos Aires in July.

• It showcases the works of more than 400 artists of 27 nationalities, including three Saudi artists.

The theme brews various notions. For Saudi artists, it places them in the context of a global scene: As the art world, considered fairly young in the region, continues to grow, Saudi-based artists are new emerging figures that carry different nuances in their work.

In Al-Howede’s words, they are “strangers in terms of nationality, language, culture, identity and cultural heritage, and our human relationships and mutual circumstances on this planet are what we have in common.”

The contemporary work of both local and international artists alike juxtaposes the palace’s classic sculptures and paintings, creating a dialogue around art’s transience and contrasting the classic with the contemporary.




Sara Abdu’s artwork, “The unburdened is untethered by what is not of him,” is a 6-minute video installation that explores the infinite process of becoming., personified through movements and motion. (Supplied)

Al-Howede’s work “Millat Ibrahim” (The Creed of Abraham) greets visitors on the balcony of the palace’s main entrance, one of the prominent locations the Saudi works are placed.

Al-Howede said: “My artwork covers the three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. These three religions are spread in Argentina, have their active presence and are homogeneous and in harmony. The concept of my artwork enhances this harmony and rapprochement.

“My work explores the possibility of developing joint universal values that are closer to solidarity and human fraternity. It also questions whether humanity can develop a new system dedicated to understanding the relationship between humans.”




For us at Bienalsur, working with artists from Saudi Arabia is a wonderful opportunity to experience diversity and exchange, says Diana Wechsler, Art director and curator

As a Saudi, displaying his artwork across the globe gives him a sense of responsibility toward the philosophies and narratives artists are creating, he said.

Sara Abdu’s artwork, titled “The unburdened is untethered by what is not of him,” is a six-minute video installation that explores the infinite process of becoming, personified through movements and motion. As an enigmatic figure transforms into a flock of birds, it plays on the self’s constant search for a greater journey.

The piece draws from the Qur’anic depictions of birds, specifically the story of Prophet Dawood and the birds that serenaded him upon his passing. Abdu also pulls inspiration from Farid ud-Din Attar’s poem, “The Conference of the Birds.” Her work platforms the notion that the self is continuously transforming, fleeting, arriving and becoming.

The Bienalsur looks to create new modes of exchange by linking cross-cultural artists and curators in various atmospheres, forcing discourse around notions that are rarely linked.

From Argentina, the works will be displayed in 170 venues in 70 cities globally, concluding the 2023 showcase at the University of Fine Arts in Tokyo, Japan in December.

 


Saudi Shoura Council speaker holds meetings during official trip to Jordan

Saudi Shoura Council speaker holds meetings during official trip to Jordan
Updated 17 April 2024
Follow

Saudi Shoura Council speaker holds meetings during official trip to Jordan

Saudi Shoura Council speaker holds meetings during official trip to Jordan
  • Gatherings attended by several officials from the 2 sides

RIYADH: The Speaker of the Saudi Shoura Council Sheikh Abdullah Al-Sheikh met Jordanian Prime Minister Bisher Khasawneh on Wednesday as part of his official visit to Jordan, the Saudi Press Agency reported.

The discussion emphasized the strong and deep-seated relations between Saudi Arabia and Jordan, highlighting their extensive coordination and cooperation across various sectors.

Both officials explored ways to enhance bilateral ties, with a particular focus on strengthening parliamentary relations.

Al-Sheikh also held discussions with Faisal Akef Al-Fayez, president of the Jordanian Senate, on the same day.

He highlighted Saudi Arabia’s rapid economic growth and development, attributing this progress to the leadership of the Kingdom.

Al-Sheikh expressed gratitude for Jordan’s unwavering support and spoke of the consistent backing the Kingdom has provided to Jordan.

The meeting also focused on ongoing cooperative efforts between the Shoura Council and the Jordanian Senate, along with discussions on various other subjects.

Both meetings were attended by several officials from the two sides.
 


Saudi artist embraces the unconventional with anti-aesthetic artworks

Saudi artist embraces the unconventional with anti-aesthetic artworks
Updated 17 April 2024
Follow

Saudi artist embraces the unconventional with anti-aesthetic artworks

Saudi artist embraces the unconventional with anti-aesthetic artworks

RIYADH: In a world fixated on beauty and aesthetic perfection, Saudi artist Asrar Al-Qarni is boldly producing anti-aesthetic and unsettling art.

Through her work, the 33-year-old challenges traditional notions of beauty and protests conformity. She compels viewers to confront uncomfortable truths and explore darker aspects of society.

This unconventional approach to art can be seen as a romantic rebellion against society’s constraints, as well as a celebration of individuality and freedom of expression.

Al-Qarni told Arab News that anti-aesthetic art encourages people to look beyond the surface and find beauty in the unexpected and the unconventional. It seeks to disrupt the status quo and provoke thought and discussion about the nature of art itself: “Instead of being visually appealing and comforting, anti-aestheticism prioritizes evoking emotions and disturbing expression within the artwork,” the artist said.

This can lead to anti-aesthetic works being labeled ugly, jarring, or anti-art by those who prefer more aesthetically focused works.

By highlighting discord and dissonance in her paintings, Al-Qarni, a self-taught artist, creates a unique and thought-provoking experience for those who encounter her work. “Incorporating elements of chaos, ugliness and discomfort forces viewers to confront their preconceived notions about what art should be,” she added.

Al-Qarni became interested in anti-aesthetic art because of its raw human expression and beauty hidden by imperfections.

She uses bold colors and abstract shapes to create pieces that challenge viewers’ preconceptions and provoke a strong emotional response.

“I use various materials for my art, including mixed media, oil paint, acrylic paint and watercolor. My choice of materials depends on the specific technique or effect I want to achieve in my artwork,” Al-Qarni said.

By breaking free from the constraints of conventional beauty, the artist is pushing boundaries and inspiring others to think outside the box.

Al-Qarni said she cultivated her style through dedicated practice. She started copying and sketching cartoons from her favorite television shows as a child. “As I got older, I got into realistic portrait painting, trying to capture the world around me, but I soon realized that realism did not allow me to express my emotions deeply enough,” she added.

The Saudi artist eventually resorted to a more liberated method, allowing her to follow her instincts and let her brush strokes guide her: “When I hold the brush against the canvas, it becomes a way to quieten the noise of life and connect with my inner self, providing a source of relaxation and tranquility.”

The artist maintains a multi-purpose space where she paints, serving as both a studio and a cozy personal area.

“It is where I sleep, read and spend most of my time. Waking up surrounded by the creative mess of my art provides me with a sense of passion and inspiration to continue my artistic journey each day.”

Ten years ago, Al-Qarni decided to pursue art professionally, and she has not looked back since. Her work has been featured in galleries and exhibitions across Saudi Arabia, earning her recognition and acclaim from critics and audiences.

Al-Qarni’s first showing was in 2016 in Jeddah with Behance, the world’s largest network for showcasing and discovering creative work.

“Facing the audience, I received both compliments and critiques. The experience was helpful and encouraging, inspiring me to create more and improve my art,” she said.

She has taken part in several art exhibitions, such as the Misk Art Institute in 2019, which provides a platform for creative individuals to influence present-day discussions.

Al-Qarni also showcased her work at Grey Art Gallery in Alkhobar, and Zawaya Art Gallery and Sensation Art Gallery in Jeddah.

The artist gives each painting a title that reflects the overarching emotion or story behind the artwork. The title can be inspired by a novel, a song, or a personal experience related to the painting.

“How someone perceives and feels about a painting can vary depending on the person looking at it,” she added. “We all bring our own thoughts and experiences, which adds to the richness and meaning of any artist’s work.”

To aspiring artists who might be intimidated to share their artwork and innermost emotions with an audience, Al-Qarni preaches that the world needs art.

“Embrace the opportunity for growth and connect with other artists through feedback and experiences, and remember that every artist starts somewhere, and sharing your work is a step toward achieving your goals.” 


Stage is set for Saudi Arabia’s first Arabic grand opera

Stage is set for Saudi Arabia’s first Arabic grand opera
Updated 17 April 2024
Follow

Stage is set for Saudi Arabia’s first Arabic grand opera

Stage is set for Saudi Arabia’s first Arabic grand opera
  • ‘Zarqa Al-Yamama’ aims to bring Saudi heritage to life and lead the way into a new cultural era in the Kingdom
  • Saudi singers Sawsan Al-Bahiti, Khayran Al-Zahrani and Reemaz Oqbi take on 3 key roles in the opera

RIYADH: With just a week to go, the stage is set for the eagerly anticipated first performance of “Zarqa Al-Yamama,” which organizers describe as the first grand Saudi opera in Arabic, at King Fahd Cultural Center in Riyadh on April 25.

The libretto will be sung in Arabic, which is rare in opera as the vast majority of works are performed in European languages. As such, the Kingdom’s Theater and Performing Arts Commission said the event, which takes place under the patronage of Minister of Culture Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan, marks a turning point in an increasingly vibrant Saudi cultural scene, given the high artistic value of opera and the interest of connoisseurs and audiences around the world in the art form.

“Zarqa Al-Yamama” is based on well-known sung poems and music inspired by the operatic tradition, together with elements of Saudi music. It tells the story of the legendary figure Zarqa Al-Yamama, who lived in the Al-Yamama region of Najd during the pre-Islamic era and is caught up in a dispute between her tribe and another that ends in tragedy.

The producers describe the opera as a poignant tragedy with breathtaking suspense, brought to life in a state-of-the-art theatrical production filled with sweeping orchestral movements and mesmerizing choral performances that deliver a unique cultural experience. 

Sawsan AlBahiti. (Supplied)

Sultan Al-Bazie, the CEO of the Theater and Performing Arts Commission, said the opera embodies well-established elements of Saudi heritage and presents a well-known story within a contemporary framework that reflects modern artistic trends and audience expectations.

It is a collaborative project featuring Saudi and international artists. Saudi poet Saleh Zamanan, who has received several local and international awards for his poetry and plays, wrote the words, inspired by the historical story of Zarqa and adding his own literary stamp.

Saudi artists Sawsan Al-Bahiti, Khayran Al-Zahrani and Reemaz Oqbi take on three key roles in the opera, which is a sign of the progress in the development of musical entertainment in the Kingdom.

“I will be performing the role of the bridesmaid, which is part of a major scene in the opera where the story takes a major turn to more thrilling events,” Al-Bahiti told Arab News.

Considered the first Saudi opera singer, she has been leading the way in the development of the Saudi opera scene and “Zarqa Al-Yamama” provides the latest showcase for her incredible vocal talent. She said the production is contemporary and innovative, and demonstrates a rich complexity that will captivate the audience.

“From the day I started training as an opera singer in 2008, I dreamed of an original Saudi opera production sung in Arabic,” said Al-Bahiti. “This day has finally come, and arrived sooner than I expected, which makes me even happier.”

Amid the rapid development and evolution of all forms of entertainment in Saudi Arabia in recent years, “Zarqa Al-Yamama” represents a significant step forward for opera in the Kingdom, and Al-Bahiti serves as a shining example of the growing opportunities as the art form continues to evolve and grow.

“Zarqa Al-Yamama” will run from April 25 until May 4, with 10 performances scheduled.


Saudi FM receives phone call from EU foreign policy chief

Saudi FM receives phone call from EU foreign policy chief
Updated 17 April 2024
Follow

Saudi FM receives phone call from EU foreign policy chief

Saudi FM receives phone call from EU foreign policy chief
  • Officials discussed Gaza war

RIYADH: Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan received a phone call on Wednesday from European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, Saudi Press Agency reported.
The officials discussed the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and its surrounding areas, and the international efforts being made to end the war.
Earlier in February, Prince Faisal and Borrell held similar discussions on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

 


The 44th King Abdulaziz Qur’an competition begins in August

The 44th King Abdulaziz Qur’an competition begins in August
Updated 17 April 2024
Follow

The 44th King Abdulaziz Qur’an competition begins in August

The 44th King Abdulaziz Qur’an competition begins in August
  • Total prize pool of SR4m in prestigious event

RIYADH: The 44th King Abdulaziz International Competition for the Memorization, Recitation, and Interpretation of the Qur’an begins in early August in Makkah, the Saudi Press Agency has reported.

The prestigious event, which attracts contestants from around the globe, offers a total prize pool of SR4 million ($1.07 million).

The competition is divided into five categories: memorization of the entire Holy Qur’an, with accurate recitation and intonation following the seven rules of recitation; memorization of the Qur’an along with interpretation of its terms; memorization of 15 juz (parts) of the Qur’an with proper recitation and intonation; memorization of five juz with correct recitation and intonation; and a category for shorter lengths of memorization with corresponding recitation and intonation requirements.

In the first category, the top three winners will receive SR500,000, SR450,000, and SR400,000.

The event’s closing ceremony will be held at the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Dawah and Guidance Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Asheikh expressed gratitude toward the Kingdom’s leaders for their dedication to the Qur’an, adding that the competition showcased the country’s commitment to promoting its values among Saudi Arabia’s youth.