Although Jeddah is known as the cultural capital of the country, those involved in the art world are having to be inventive when it comes to creating exhibition spaces and giving the public the opportunity to view new works of art.
Jeddah, the gateway to Mecca, won an Aga Khan Award for Architecture prize in 1983 for its innovative Hajj terminal. But the new transport hubs offer even greater opportunities for Saudi artists to shine. Airport authorities are consulting with advisers and commissioners to acquire art work, among them Saudi director general of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris, Mona Khazindar.
“As yet Jeddah has no public museum so this is a new way of bringing art to children – through field trips,” explains Raneem Farsi, co-curator of 21,39. “We bring them here by bus. In that way we tailor ways of making art accessible in line with our religion and the criteria of our country.”
The exhibition, the inaugural show by the newly-formed Saudi Art Council, a non-profit umbrella organisation that is helping Saudi contemporary artists exhibit at home and abroad, marks a turning point for culture in the Kingdom.
The Council is publishing art books but more significantly obtaining loans from collectors of works by pioneering Saudi artists of the 1970s. Artists like Safiyya Binzagr, who laid the foundations of today’s art in the Kingdom by studying abroad and bringing back new ideas and painting styles.
Learn more via Art in Saudi Arabia: Appetite fuels public displays