The Katara Gallery will be showcasing an exhibition entitled ‘Bending History’ with Edge of Arabia from Thursday 8th March – Sunday 8th April. Edge of Arabia is an independent arts initative that develops contemporary Arab art and culture appreciation, focusing mostly on Saudi Arabia. The social enterprise tours free exhibitions, releases publications and runs education programmes.
The exhibition will bring together four famous artists from the Arab world, Ahmed Mater, Abdulnasser Gharem, Sara Al-Abdali and Saeed Salem. The four Saudi artists will be exhibiting 12 iconic pieces of artwork which express the hopes and fears of a new generation.
The Artistic Director and Head Curator of Katara Art Center, Sidonio Costa said Edge of Arabia is a contemporary art movement and that ‘The works portray the voice of the new generation, expressing themselves through powerful art.’
Ahmed Mater (above) is the most prominent member of Edge of Arabia. Unusually for an artist he works full time as a doctor. Specialising in conceptual and installation art, his artwork is often inspired by his day job. He will be showcasing ‘Magnetism’ (above) an image of a cube magnet at the centre of thousands of iron filings, which resembles the symbolic, pure and spiritual ritual of tawaf, the circumambulation of the Kaa’ba.
Abdulnasser Gharem became the highest selling living artist in the Gulf when his Message/Messenger installation sold at auction in Dubai. He donated the proceeds to Edge of Arabia to help foster art education in Saudi Arabia.
Like Ahmed Mater, he too lives a double life, combining his life as a conceptual artist with his career as a Major in the Saudi Arabian army. He will be exhibiting a selection of his works, including his signature stamp painting, such as Men at Work (below), No Exit and The Stamp, which is inscribed with the phrase ‘Have a bit of Commitment: Inshallah’.
Abdulnasser Gharem said that ‘It is often assumed the divisions in Saudi Arabia are religious or political, but they are really between the old and new. I think after the Arab spring a lot of people in Saudi have realised it’s time for the next generation to move up – challenging our past, reclaiming our future, and bending history.’
Sarah Al-Abdali is one of Saudi’s first street artists. She said, ‘I’m addicted to creating characters and I believe that the political and social circumstances are the reasons behind such an addiction!’ Her artworks have a dreamy, fairytale quality to them. She showcases her work on her blog http://sarahalabdali.blogspot.com/ .
Photographer Saeed Salem was born and raised in Jeddah. He likes to keep his photography simple and striking. Saeed Salem will show his work, Neonland, an iconic symbol of his hometown that he describes as a futuristic ‘ball of consumer energy’.