An art exhibition to build bridges

Saudi curators to bring in a taste of global museum

October 15, 2017
Layan Damanhouri

Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH – Contemporary Collective, a group of Saudi curators, is bringing in a taste of international contemporary museum in a monthlong exhibition titled «We Are Not Alone» at Athr Gallery from Oct. 17.

Six female curators selected art pieces from the British Council’s British Art Collection by some of UK’s most prominent artists, including Anish Kapoor, Ryan Gander, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Rachel Whiteread and Damien Hirst.

“It’s an interesting collection of contemporary art by some of the internationally renowned artists,” said Dalia Fatani, one of the curators and founder of Studio Lucha in Riyadh.

“The art scene is growing and more people are getting to know contemporary art,” she said. “It’s a chance to bring an international contemporary museum to the public here.”

People share similar fears and anxieties, which art can help overcome, according to the curators. «We are not alone» seeks to bridge the gap between people and bring them together on common ground.

“The idea behind the exhibition is to highlight our similarities at a time when we are being divided,” said Raneen Bukhari, who manages Desert Designs Art Gallery. “We want people to get curious and interested in art. It is going to be welcoming atmosphere that will encourage visitors to ask questions.”

Asked about contemporary art in Saudi Arabia, Raneen says there has been a surge in art shows and artists recently, but it still remains a small network.

Commenting on the local art scene, Maryam Bilal said «it’s developing at a fast pace.”

Vision 2030 brings optimism among artists as they witness unprecedented promotion of art and culture.

“There’s been a lot of growth, especially as artists are travelling abroad and more people are studying art,” said Maryam, who has been working at the forefront of the Saudi art scene since 2014 and organized prominent exhibitions at Athr gallery.

A prominent education system with arts management and education courses is lacking, however, she added.

Local art schools are scarce, says Raneen, as artists tend to either learn from each other, from workshops or train abroad. Acquiring certain material locally also remains difficult for artists.

“In the years to come, I hope to see a more dynamic art community with different movements and more collaborations happening. This would allow for more awareness on art and more people appreciating and buying artworks,” she said.

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