A double exhibition has opened in Riyadh following the launch by Saudi Arabia’s Misk Art Institute of a bilingual book series celebrating some of the most important and influential contemporary Arab artists.
One half of the show at the Prince Faisal bin Fahd Arts Hall features the painter Abdulrahman Al Soliman who, like other Saudi artists, is currently enjoying a rise in interest in his work. The other half is devoted to the Egyptian sculptor Adam Henein.
The two men are the subjects of the first two volumes in “The Art Library: Discovering Arab Artists,” written in Arabic and English and published in June by Rizzoli Libri, an Italian firm specialized in cultural books from the Middle East.
Both Al Soliman’s abstract paintings with colorful signs and symbols and a previously unpublished selection of Henein’s charcoal drawings draw readers into discovering more about what it is to be an Arab artist.
The series is edited by Mona Khazindar, deputy for cultural assets and centers at the Saudi Ministry of Culture, and a former director general of the Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris.
“Books are important because, ultimately, they are what remains,” Khazindar says. “An artist’s work is a form of documentation of our times, which is in turn a historical record.” (See a related article, “What Art Can Teach Us About the Arab World.”)
Highlighting Arab Artists Through Exhibitions
Over the past decade, interest in Saudi Arabian contemporary art has risen by leaps and bounds to compete with Gulf neighbors such as the United Arab Emirates and Oman. (See a related article, “Artists in Saudi Arabia Gain New Recognition and Support.”)