Paint the town red with Jeddah Art Week

Jeddah Art Week will get the creative juices flowing in Saudi Arabia as it opens its doors for six days of art exhibitions

Saffiya Ansari
Saffiya Ansari - Al Arabiya News
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Jeddah Art Week (JAW) will get the creative juices flowing in Saudi Arabia on Friday as it opens its doors for six days of contemporary art exhibitions.

Twelve exhibitions will open throughout the week and are set to explore the different takes on modern art that artists from Saudi Arabia and its neighbors are bringing to the paint splattered table. International auction house Sotheby’s will also bring its traveling display to the kingdom, highlighting creative concepts from around the world.

In its second year since inception, “JAW 2014 aims to nurture grass roots movements, whilst opening up its horizons to the global contemporary art family,” Lina Lazaar, Sotheby’s International Contemporary Art Specialist, said in a released statement.

“JAW (pronounced Jaou in Arabic, and translated as ‘fun’ in my native Tunisian dialect) hopes to ignite sparks of arts and culture in a playful and inclusive fashion,” she told Al Arabiya News.

“Saudi Arabia has a huge population – and a very young population – and there is a very clear and active interest in visual culture,” she said, adding that “the Arab world has a rich cultural heritage, dating back thousands of years. This is particularly true in Jeddah, which, thanks to its port location and position as gateway to the holy city of Mecca, is uniquely positioned as a city at the crossroads of the world’s diverse peoples and cultures.”

From painting and sculpture, to film, photography, print and multi-media, Jeddah Art Week will also feature French-Tunisian street artist eL Seed, who combines graffiti with traditional Arabic calligraphy to create unique street art that he calls “Calligrafitti.” For JAW 2014, eL Seed will paint a mural in the Old Town of Jeddah, taking his art to the streets of Saudi Arabia.

“JAW will also encourage audiences to look at ‘public space’ in Jeddah more creatively,” Lazaar said in reference to eL Saeed’s work.

The art on show is not devoid of a political and cultural message.

Artist Khalid Zahid’s exhibition, to be held on Sunday, is based on the visualization of what he would like the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to be like in the future. His desire for empowered, educated, youth and a country run by its workers shines through in his work.

Meanwhile, 21 local Saudi artists will be displayed in “Limited Edition 3.” “The goal of the ‘Limited Edition’ exhibition is to exhibit artwork that is in keeping with Saudi Arabian culture and the tenets of Islam,” reads a statement on Jeddah Art Week’s website. The exhibit aims to frame traditional concepts of culture and Saudi society in a modern visual format.

On Sunday, an installation by Nour Kelani and The Loft Creative Hub will be open to public. Using the internet as a platform, fashion, art and technology collide in this design installation to express where the designers want to be in contrast to where they are.

Capturing and displaying the views of Saudi Arabia’s expat community is also a key component of the exhibition. “Kakaibang Jeddah!” brings together the photographic work of 15 part-time Filipino photographers living in the country, which is home to more than one million Filipino migrant workers.

Richard Nicolasora, participant of Kakaibang Jeddah! explained to Al Arabiya News why he chose to display his photography at the show.

“I hope that this will be a good start of the new horizon for budding artists like myself to have a proper venue to practice my passion for art and show it to the public. I believe that this show will highlight and put more focus on the artistic aspect of the Filipinos and inspire more budding Filipino artists.”

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