“Soft Power” at Saudi Arabia’s First Contemporary Art Gallery

Posted filed underArab World, Featured, Galleries, Saudi Arabia, Shows, Women.

“Saudi Arabia is making its mark on the global contemporary art scene: works by Middle Eastern artists such as Talal Al Zeid and Mohammed Farea are available at Lam Art Gallery in Riyadh, the Empty Quarter photography gallery in Dubai was founded by the Saudi photographer Princess Reem Al-Faisal, while Message/Messenger, a 2010 installation incorporating a wood and copper dome by the Saudi artist Abdulnasser Gharem, was the top lot at Christie’s Dubai in April 2011, fetching $842,500 (with buyer’s premium; est $70,000-$100,000). A new contemporary art gallery called Alaan Artspace, which opens next month in Riyadh, also hopes to succeed in the field,” writes The Art Newspaper.

“There is a tremendous amount of energy around the arts in Saudi, but relatively few institutions and Alaan Artspace is Riyadh’s first curated contemporary art platform,” says Neama Alsudairy, the founding director of the new gallery. “Revenue from the shop, restaurant and cafe give us the flexibility to hold non-commercial exhibitions, commission new works, stock an art research library, and offer free non-profit educational arts programming.” In a significant move, the venue will also host commercial shows.

The opening exhibition, “Soft Power” (26 September-10 December), represents a breakthrough, featuring three Saudi female artists. ”

Read on at The Art Newspaper.


SoftPower features new commissions by emerging mixed-media artists Sarah Abu Abdallah and Sarah Mohanna Al-Abdali and a special loan by one of Saudi’s leading artists Manal Al Dowayan. While varied in style and methodology, their works employ a nuanced and at times humorous approach towards exploring the position of women within contemporary society, forgoing militant tactics for those of solidarity, ambiguity and irony.