January 23, 2011

Saudi Contemporary Art in Istanbul


"The Edge of Arabia Istanbul: Transition"  is the latest international exhibition by Saudi Arabian artists. It has been among the contributions to Istanbul’s year as European Capital of Culture 2010. The organizers of Edge of Arabia Istanbulwere perceptive in recognizing that this year, Istanbul has been the right place to be. The Islamic city has a thriving vitality that makes it a real European culture capital and it has been an apt setting for exhibiting the work of Saudi Arabia’s barrier-pushing, individualistic artists.
The Transition in the Edge of Arabia exhibition title reflects the complex effects of change that permeate the works of these Saudi artists. Istanbul’s Sanat Limani contemporary art center stands on the shore on the very edge of Europe, facing Asia across the Bosphorus, one of the most celebrated seaways of transition in the Mediterranean. The late Ottoman Dolmabahce Mosque beside the Sanat Limani marks another transition in its contrast to the functionalist and the logo of Edge of Arabia at the Saudi exhibition entrance. It is a well-chosen setting for showing the efflorescence of Saudi Arabia’s contemporary art scene.
The Edge of Arabia organizers divided the exhibition into five themed rooms, “Century of the Self”, “Solitary Prayer”, “The Rise of Video Art”, “Consumer Kingdom” and “Message to the Messengers”. Within these loosely conceived framing concepts, the striking individualism of the work of each artist shines through in an exhibition of diversity.
Islam and the written Arabic word inevitably permeate much of these Saudi artists’ work, both explicitly and implicitly. There is also a strong element of social comment and a persistent, thoughtful and pervasive sense of anxiety about Arabia now and in the future, especially with respect to the environment.
Read more on Arabnews.comSaudi contemporary art in Istanbul

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