Greenbox Museum of Contemporary Art from Saudi Arabia.

NOSTALGIA - Contemporary Artists from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

Introductions by Luciano Benetton, Maryam Beydoun and Mohammed Hafiz, cover: Untitled by Nasser Al Salem, Italy 2014. In three languages: English, Arabic and Italian. Also available online for fast browsing at this link: Saudi Arabia, Nostalgia.

Comprehensive overview of artists from Saudi Arabia on the basis of over 140 small commissioned artworks measuring 10 x 12 cm made for Luciano Benetton colourful Imago Mundi collection.

'Like water that suddenly gushes from the desert,' is how Bennetton quotes artist Abdulnasser Gharem talking about Saudi Arabia allowing its population, until 2001 very much isolated or even quarantined, to share in the world's riches of imagery and information. Which then led to a rapid growth of the art scene in Saudi Arabia.

Art consultant Maryam Beydoun, who actually took on the job to complete this project of commissioning so many works accross the country explains how she went about it. The canvas size being the only limitation, many themes turned up in the work. I quote Beydoun: 'Whether faith elements, longing to revisit a point in their lives, exploring their personal identity and spanning to social and environmental issues, the artists have been experimenting with conceptual ideas and pushing the envelope as a form of freedom of expression.'   

Mohammed Hafiz, one of the two founders of institution like Athr Gallery, shares his belief in art's ability to pave a way for understanding and unity. More needs not to be said, but he mentiones the regional and international initiatives that have allowed artists from the country to achieve recognition and suggests that a few more would be much welcomed.

August 24, 2017