Weekly Love – 7

Weekly LoveListening to: Imagine | The Beatles

Opening of Young Saudi Artists exhibition at Athr Gallery

I knew about the exhibition a few weeks earlier because I was collaborating with Yousef Alshaikh on “This” | An installation of five 5.5 x 5.5 cm micro portraits. The first dilemma was finding a printer that could print these 5 micro portraits on canvas. Thankfully, I remembered PHOTOPIA, founded by Abdullah Kurdi.

I submitted the files on Jan 9th at 2.30 p.m. I went back and forth between: Athr gallery to choose a wall, take measurements and check the lighting, Jarir to check out canvases, Souq Ghurab to buy spring cords, and Aramex to pick up the magnifiers. Thank God everyone I was dealing with was very helpful, from the staff at Athr gallery, to the salesman at Ba’aghil store in Souq Ghurab.

Tuesday Jan 11th: At 7.30 pm, Abdullah Kurdi enters PHOTOPIA with canvases in hand, and a halo around his head. I had everything we needed, except that we still needed to work on the actual installation. I rushed back to Athr to find everyone working very hard. We all had a mission: to make sure everything was perfectly in place before the opening.

The workers made my job so easy. All I had to do was brief them and supervise.

Work in progress

At 10.30 pm, my job was done. I left at 11.30 pm, and they were still working very hard.

Wednesday Jan 12th, 2 hours before the opening

On the ladder: Yousef Alshaikh (click for full view)

5 p.m.: Showtime!!

Dr. AbdulAziz Khojah, Saudi Minister of Culture and Information, arrives at 5.30 pm. The media was ready with their cameras, and since they were actually paid to do this, I didn’t want to get in their way.

Dr. Khojah looking at one of Yousef's micro portraits (Photo by Samer Al Owfi)

Photographers Mr. Samer Al Owfi and Mr. Wael Al Suleimani were so kind to send me my pictures. I’m so happy that they documented these moments.

With the artists and Athr team

For those who couldn’t make it to the exhibition, you can still catch the artwork until Feb 15th! If you can’t, then don’t worry; I’m bringing the event to you right here! Below are most of the artwork exhibited. I apologize for not covering everything, but I’m sure you will love what I managed to cover.

History of Ka'aba by young calligrapher Nasser Al Salim - silkscreen print on paper

Sara Abdu

"No Signal" by Huda Beydoun

An installation

Eyad with his sculpture, "The Cycle of Tools"

Details from the sculpture

Left: Amna Kamel | Center and right: Reem Bajaba

Salwa Zahid, marker on paper

Saud Al Saud | Photography, printed on canvas

Khalid Zahid | Digital collage print on canvas



Left to right: Eyad Maghazil, Yousef Alshaikh, and Jeffrey Hills from the PR office in the US consulate in Jeddah

Notice how they’re somehow mirroring his body language? I love event photography haha. Here’s what Mr. Jeffrey Hill had to say about the exhibition:

This exhibition is so important for not only Jeddah, but all of Saudi Arabia. Although it is common belief that Saudi Arabia doesn’t have much interest in modern artistic expression, this exhibition shows quite the opposite. The amazing ingenuity, the boldness of design, and artists’ creative energy all show brain power. All of us here have an obligation to promote their work and give them maximum space and power to showcase their work in KSA and overseas.”

"Ladies and gentlemen, by way of introduction, I am either a simpleton, or a pretentious charlatan, and I very much think I am the latter. By way of furthering my argument, I propose the following question: In my tumultuous usurpation of your personal space on this here planet, what real value have I added to your existence? Regrettably, both the question and the author are rhetorical." - Yousef Alshaikh

You can see the portraits here. More photos from the exhibition will be posted on the blog’s Facebook page. Stay tuned! I shall now leave you with a review written by the wonderful Yasmine Mansouri:

“Dipped like a Dorito! I just couldn’t get myself out! The atmosphere was enchanting. For someone who wasn’t used to these kinds of events and crowds, they would’ve found it intimidating and overwhelming at first. I myself am one of those. But as I blended in, Mrs.Inspiration rose. After Her long slumber in the back of my head, I started to yield to Her demands. I was dipped, drenched, and I was digging it. The various types of art, and the immense amount of thought put into each piece… It was “like bubblegum to the eyes” like my friend Yousef Alshaikh says, and fizzy candy to the brain!
It is honestly difficult deciding what I liked most, cause I definitely
liked almost everything. What I loved the most was meeting those artists
and being able to get a glimpse into the brain-shaped galaxies placed
inside their heads, such as Sarah Abdu and Eyad Maghazil, whose works simply
reached out and tickled the passionate and creative Yasmine. Meeting Yousef Alshaikh of course was another story. The dude’s probably the most energetic, creative human being I’ve ever met. When it was finally time to go, I left -unwillingly- with my soul fed, my craving mind satisfied, and with growing eagerness for more and more galleries and exhibitions. Putting nails up Soraya’s heels wasn’t the plan, but it was her explanatory tour that doubled all the excitement 😀 Many thanks to Soraya ^^’

I believe I should explain the “nails up my heels”; I was at the gallery for over 6 hours. “Nails up my heels” was the least that could be said about my state, but it was all worth it! So, what did I think of the exhibition? I thought it was the most brilliant exhibition I’ve attended in Saudi Arabia. Starting from the venue, the wonderful ambience, classical music, splendid catering, to the passionate artists and their amazing work.


The painting below by Saad Bin Mohammed (right) was one of my favorites. I really must go back to take a high res photo of it.

Right: A Witness Who Never Forgot (Photo by Samer Al Owfi)

If you have any questions about any of the artwork or artists, please don’t hesitate to ask; I will do what I can to answer them 🙂

About Soraya

Lazy artist that can write and take pictures. Initiator of Casual Art Talk (2011), Founder of Onqoud (2012) Embracing art and culture!
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6 Responses to Weekly Love – 7

  1. reem says:

    loved it so much
    thnx for sharing sweet heart

  2. Nice job Soraya, and good pics. I wanted to ask: Who is that Jeffery guy? I remember seeing him around alot.

    • Soraya says:

      Thanks Rayan!

      Jeffrey was one of the guests from the US Consulate in Jeddah, from their PR office. One of his responsibilities is to attend events like these. He was supposed to email me with more info, but I guess he forgot. I’ll ask Yousef or Eyad for his contact info I guess.

  3. Diana Rayan says:

    amazing! I’m impressed to see such a thing in SA! its very unique and talented, Well done!
    I would like to meet you to talk more about it and discuss ways of spreading this art and spirit!

    Bravo.. .

    • Soraya says:

      Yes al hamdulillah SA has come a long way indeed!

      I can never say no to discussions that will contribute to the art scene in Saudi 😀 Are you in Jeddah?


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