Saudi Arabia’s first art biennale announces list of participating artists

The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale will take place in December in a creative district outside of Riyadh

The Diriyah Biennale Foundation has released the list of participating artists for the kingdom’s first contemporary art biennale – Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale – which will take place in December.

The list includes 63 artists, mostly from Saudi Arabia and China, as well names from the US, Kuwait, Germany, Syria, Egypt, Ireland and Kenya.

A team of international curators led by Philip Tinari have put together a programme with six sections under the theme Feeling the Stones, inspired by the slogan “crossing the river by feeling the stones”, which was developed by Chinese politician Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s in reference to taking action during times of social and economic transformation.

The biennale will take place from December 11 to March 11, 2022 at the JAX District in Diriyah, just outside of Riyadh. Spanning more than 20,000 square metres, the area has recently been developed to serve as a creative district in Saudi Arabia, which has been pouring funds into arts and culture projects.

“The Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale presents an unprecedented opportunity for the wide audiences in Saudi Arabia to experience global contemporary art,” Tinari, who serves as director and chief executive of UCCA Centre for Contemporary Art, China, said.

Speaking on the theme, he said the exhibition “explores how social transformation happens in a way that is iterative yet directional, experimental yet pragmatic” and said the programme will focus on “major projects”, including 33 site-specific commissions by artists from Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world.

Aya Al Bakree, the chief executive of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, said the selection for the inaugural Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale is meant to “showcase Saudi artists in dialogue with leading artists from around the world”.

Ad Diriyah, the area where the event will take place, is known as the Jewel of the Kingdom. It is where the first Saudi Arabian state was established. Starting with the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, it will become the site of one other cultural biennale that will focus on Islamic arts. The two events, both overseen by the Diriyah Biennale Foundation and the Ministry of Culture in Saudi Arabia, will alternate each year.

Listed in alphabetical order are the artists participating in the Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale 2021:

Omar Abduljawad (Saudi Arabia, 1989)

Sarah Abu Abdallah (Saudi Arabia, 1990)

Hmoud Al Attawi (Saudi Arabia, 1986)

Manal Al Dowayan (Saudi Arabia, 1973)

Fahad Al Hejailan (Saudi Arabia, 1957-2018)

Lulwah Al Homoud (Saudi Arabia, 1967)

Mahdi Al Jeraibi (Saudi Arabia, 1969)

Abdullah Al Othman (Saudi Arabia, 1985)

Monira Al Qadiri (Kuwait, 1983)

Daniah Al Saleh (Saudi Arabia, 1970)

Mohammed Al Saleem (Saudi Arabia, 1939-1997)

Shadia Alem (Saudi Arabia, 1960)

Zahrah Al Ghamdi (Saudi Arabia, 1977)

Marwah Al Mugait (Saudi Arabia, 1981)

Jowhara Al Saud (Saudi Arabia, 1978)

Rashed Al Shashai (Saudi Arabia, 1977)

Dana Awartani (Saudi Arabia - Palestine, 1987)

Larry Bell (US, 1939)

Sultan Bin Fahad (Saudi Arabia, 1971)

Birdhead (China, est 2004)

Sarah Brahim (Saudi Arabia, 1992)

Colin Chinnery (UK, 1971)

Ayman Yossri Daydban (Palestine - Jordan, 1966)

Simon Denny (New Zealand, 1982)

Ibrahim El Dessouki (Egypt, 1969)

Osama Esid (Syria, 1970)

Morris Foit (Kenya, 1940)

John Gerrard (Ireland, 1974)

Abdullah Hammas (Saudi Arabia, 1953)

Huang Rui (China, 1952)

William Kentridge (South Africa, 1955)

Wolfgang Laib (Germany, 1950)

Lei Lei & Chai Mi (China, 1985)

Lawrence Lek (Germany, 1982)

Richard Long (UK, 1945)

Maha Malluh (Saudi Arabia, 1959)

Ahmed Mater (Saudi Arabia, 1979)

Mohamed Melehi (Morocco, 1936-2020)

Han Mengyun (China, 1989)

Sarah Morris (US, 1967)

Munira Mosli (Saudi Arabia, 1954 - 2019)

Peter Mulindwa (Uganda, 1943)

Nabuqi (China, 1984)

Filwa Nazer (Saudi Arabia, 1972)

Geof Oppenheimer (US, 1973)

Miguel Angel Payano Jr. (US, 1980)

Faisal Samra (Saudi Arabia, 1956)

Shao Fan (China, 1964)

Muhannad Shono (Saudi Arabia, 1977)

Timur Si-Qin (Germany, 1984)

Tavares Strachan (Bahamas, 1979)

Superstudio (Italy, est 1966)

Koki Tanaka (Japan, 1975)

Wang Luyan (China, 1956)

Wang Sishun (China,1979)

Wang Yuping (China, 1962)

Andro Wekua (Georgia, 1977)

Xu Bing (China, 1955)

Yukinori Yanagi (Japan, 1959)

Ayman Zedani (Saudi Arabia, 1984)

Zhang Peili (China, 1957)

Zheng Yuan (China, 1988)

Zou Zhao (Singapore, 1989)

Updated: October 14th 2021, 12:30 PM