The Saudi cultural foundation Misk is hosting Misk Art 2018 in Riyadh, with exhibitions, panel discussions, and musical performances. The scope of the event is broad-ranging: some exhibitions were the results of open calls while others draw on the country’s commercial scene with heavyweights such as ATHR Gallery and Hafez Gallery from Jeddah and Hewar Art Gallery from Riyadh. Most participants are from Saudi though a number of artists and filmmakers based abroad are also taking part.
“The future of Saudi art will reflect the diversity and complexity of the local community in a global context,” said Ahmed Mater, head of Misk Art Institute, in a statement. “As cultural producers from the Arab World, our role is to preserve the forgotten narratives of the past, while continuing to innovate, challenge, and reimagine our belief of what art could be.”
Panel discussions during the event address topics germane to the growing Saudi scene, such as the distinction between art and design, which often overlaps within artists' practices. Other discussions sketched histories for the growing scene. Participants include the Jeddah-based brothers Turki and Abdulrahman Gazzaz, who this year represented Saudi for the first time in the Venice Biennale for architecture; the Ajmani photographer Ammar Al Attar, and the Saudi artist Nojoud Al Sudairi.
The Art Week is held in Darrat Arriyadh, an upscale suburb of the capital city, and is open to the public. It follows Misk Art Week last year, which 60,000 people attended.
This is one of a number of contemporary art events that Riyadh is hosting. The capital has traditionally been one of the more conservative Saudi cities, and most art activity was concentred in Jeddah, on the Red Sea, and Dammam and Khobar on the Arabian Gulf. Saudi Aramco, for example, has recently built the high-spec facility of Ithra just south of Dammam. But with the express involvement of the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, who founded Misk, numerous plans in Riyadh are under way. These include a new museum, which Mater will lead, as well as Riyadh Biennial, which is currently in the process of selecting artists.
Misk Art 2018 runs until November 3 in Riyadh