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Syrian art and female identity in Jeddah this month

In January, Jeddah’s prominent Athr Gallery hosts a tribute to Syria and a bold exhibition by prominent Saudi artist Manal Al-Dowayen

Ahram Online, Saturday 5 Jan 2013
Painting by Fadi Yazigi
Painting by Fadi Yazigi, in From Syrian With Love
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From Syria with Love

Jeddah’s Athr Gallery, a vital element in the growth of the Saudi art scene in recent years, has opened its space for Syrian artists in an exhibition entitled From Syria With Love, opening 17 December 2012. Eight artists display sculptures and paintings in the show, demonstrating a diverse range of styles.

The exhibition is intended to provide a glimpse into the rich history of Syrian arts. Essential artists such as Muhammad Tulaimat and Abdullah Murad, who studied art in the West, are highlighted. Also featured is Syria’s celebrated sculptor Mustafa Ali, along with works by Monif Ajaj, Farouk Kondakji, Asaad Arabi, Ismail El Helou, Fadi Yazigi and “Malva” Omar Hamdi.

This collection reflects transformations that took place in the Syrian art scene, from Western influences in the early 1900s to a more indigenous visual language brought about by the younger generation.

With 36 artworks produced over the past two decades on show, the exhibition offers an artistic angle on the socio-political struggle in the country.

“As the country’s current, bitter power struggles continue, this important exhibition affords an understanding of the eloquence, passion and insight with which these artists engaged with their homeland,” reads the press release.

From Syria With Love runs until 10 January.

 

A Journey of Belonging

Starting 15 January, the Jeddah Athr Gallery will host a solo show for one of the female artists currently placing Saudi Arabia on the international art map, Manal Al-Dowayen.

Al-Dowayen recently exhibited at the newly launched Alaan Artspace in Riyadh in an edgy collective show. In Alaan Artspace’s Soft Power, Al-Dowayen challenged the taboo of speaking women’s names in public through setting up an installation entitled Esmi or "My Name," in which the names of Saudi women are painted across every bead of larger than life sized rosaries, used by Muslims to count the times they give praise to God.

The installation is Al-Dowayen’s way to protest the cultural norms of silencing the names of women. The artist prompts reflection over female identity in contemporary Arab society.

The new project by Al-Dowayen, opening in an exhibition entitled A Journey of Belonging on 15 January in Jeddah, “gives unique and candid perspectives into the intense and idiosyncratic relationship that exists between a woman and her homeland, exploring feelings of alienation, belonging, and identity,” according to Athr Art.

Athr Gallery
5th Floor Office Towers, Serafi Mega Mall
Tahlia Street, Jeddah, 23441
Saudi Arabia

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