Misk Art Institute presents Here, Now exhibition

September 03, 2021

RIYADH — Misk Art Institute (MAI), the leading non-profit cultural institution dedicated to empowering the growth of a thriving creative community in Saudi Arabia, presents Here, Now / هنا، الآن. This exhibition is the third in a series of annual flagship exhibitions in which MAI collaborates with a curator on the central theme of Misk Art Week 2021, the Institute’s annual celebratory event.

Here, Now / هنا، الآن is curated by British critic and writer Sacha Craddock, working in close partnership with MAI’s assistant curators Alia Ahmad Al Saud and Nora Algosaibi. The exhibition will run from Oct. 3, 2021 – Jan. 15, 2022 at Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Arts Hall in Riyadh and online via Misk Art Institute’s website.

Responding to Misk Art Week’s 2021 theme of Identity, the curatorial collaboration behind Here, Now / هنا، الآن brings international artists into conversation with Saudi talent such as Yousef Jaha and Filwa Nazer. The variety of media on show includes paintings, textiles, sculptures, immersive installations, and digital works, offering visitors an opportunity to reflect on notions of the self in relation to location and society.

Participating artists include Ayman Yossri Daydban (Saudi Arabia/Palestine); Filwa Nazer (Saudi Arabia); Manal AlDowayan (Saudi Arabia); Piyarat Piyapongwiwat (Thailand); Salah ElMur (Sudan); Sami Ali AlHossein (Saudi Arabia); Sheila Hicks (USA); Vasudevan Akkitham (India); Young In Hong (South Korea) and Yousef Jaha (Saudi Arabia).

“We are delighted to see Sacha Craddock, together with the Institute’s curators Alia Ahmad Al Saud and Nora Algosaibi, respond to and map out the universality of identity. Convening artists from more than five countries in dialogue with Saudi voices, the exhibition echoes our year-long work and programming, which is to provide a laboratory for creativity and discovery and invite the public into the creative process,” said Reem Al Sultan, CEO of Misk Art Institute.

Among the exhibited works is I Am Here, a large-scale piece by Manal AlDowayan with guidelines for the audience to participate in the work. Using paint and stencils, viewers are invited to affirm their presence in the exhibition’s physical space by recreating the artwork’s title on a defined gallery wall space. Durational in nature, the superimposed painted affirmations eventually disappear in a visual commentary on the delicate relationship between the individual and the collective. AlDowayan’s practice investigates the intricate relation between seemingly opposite notions, such as the traditional and contemporary or local community and the globalized world.

Through interactive maze-like stacked sculptures Saudi-Palestinian artist Ayman Yossri Daydban’s Three House deconstructs archetypal narratives related to cultural heritage and identity, as well as the region’s historical relation to Western colonial powers. Working with a logic that grows out of the arbitrary nature of words and language, Daydban’s work insists on the existence of the material that remains after function or meaning have moved on.

American contemporary artist Sheila Hicks presents a large-scale woven installation originally conceived in Riyadh’s King Saud University, where Hicks set up an art program in the 1980s. Hicks talks of lying down, looking up at a palm tree and seeing a mass of leaves span out to define a circular series of routes. The pleasure of looking up at the tree and into the parallel reality created by its leaves, became the basis of Le Palmier, which follows traditional weaving methods established at the Aubusson workshops in the 16th century and exemplifies the artist’s ability to translate the personal and physical with ease.

Working across a range of media — from Young In Hong’s embroidered flowers that counter the ephemerality of the floral to Sami Ali AlHossein’s paintings that depict personal memory as a landscape and visual space and Salah ElMur’s work that reveals a natural confusion at the three-dimensional reality and walls that surround him — all showcased artists examine the space between the personal and the public, between the outside of perception and the inside of intention.

“I hope that the exceptionally fluid and open process that brought Here, Now / هنا، الآن together is mirrored by the experience of the audience. Layers of curatorial knowledge and familiarity, on my part, have merged with totally new influences, innovations and traditions to produce a sense of perpetual discovery for all,” said Craddock, exhibition curator.

Virtual tours (in English and Arabic) of Here, Now / هنا، الآن will be made available online via the Misk Art Institute website alongside additional programming including workshops for adults and children.

The exhibition will coincide with the Institute’s flagship event Misk Art Week (Dec. 1 - 5), whose theme for its fifth iteration focuses on identity and which is also held at the Prince Faisal Bin Fahd Arts Hall. Fostering dialogue and a creative community, the week-long initiative will be accompanied by a series of public events, ranging from talks to workshops. — SG

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