Jeddah Showcases Contemporary Work of Gulf Artists

February 10, 2017 - By Lulwa Shalhoub for Arab News

Jeddah’s art scene is seeing a rich flow of exhibitions and events that shed light on work from local and regional artists.
The 21,39 art initiative, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting art and culture, has combined a series of events that began this month and will carry on until May, with support from the General Entertainment Authority.
One of the highlights of the activities is “And Along Came Polyester,” which gathers the work of five women artists from the Gulf to showcase their contemporary work in solo exhibitions under the same roof at Athr Gallery.

Arab News spoke to the five artists about their experiences at the “And Along Came Polyester” exhibition.

‘And Along Came Polyester’ art exhibition opens

February 3, 2017 - By Lulwa Shalhoub for Arab News

 A Thursday night of contemporary art puts a refreshing end to schools’ midyear break. Young people and art lovers filled Athr art platform based at Serafi Mega Mall’s office towers as the artwork of five woman artists from the Gulf had them mesmerized.
The exhibition entitled “And Along Came Polyester” displayed the work of Saudi artist Sarah Abu Abdullah’s “18 Blankets,” Qatari artist Aisha Al-Sowaidi’s “The Shift,” Bahraini artist Hala Al-Khalifa’s “She Wore Her Scares Like Wings,” Kuwaiti artist Monira Al-Qadiri’s “Legacy” and Emirati artist Layla Juma’s “A Still Moment in Thought & Spatial Perception.”

And Along Came Polyester observes the observing. Here, five women from the Gulf traverse through the personal, and reference economic, domestic, architectural, nostalgic, and cathartic processes and fluxes within their work.

They themselves and their observed surroundings are a result of a singular discovery that affected their already constantly shifting geo-political, socio-economical and religious communities.


It came along in abundance, and it had many byproducts.

The material and the immaterial of these byproducts have lived in cohesion and collision.

They have shaped the narratives of these landscapes, and thus shaped their women.

The petroleum interval in history will be over soon. Like coal before it, the currency of oil as the main generator of fuel in the world will inevitably become obsolete as other renewable energy sources slowly but surely begin to replace it. In the Gulf region, the advent of oil has dramatically changed our lives, cities, bodies and minds, so much so that we cannot even remember what life was like before it, or begin to imagine a future without it. Oil culture has left an indelible mark on the history of this place, and we must attempt to envision the cultural legacy it will leave behind, away from the economic miracles it has spawned during its short lifetime. In this exhibition, the mechanical tools used to extract petroleum are presented as archeological artifacts from a long lost past, highlighting their aesthetic beauty as oppose to their functional qualities. In addition, the works on display demonstrate a sincere attempt to create a continuity of history with what preceded oil – in this case, pearl diving – by featuring a formal relationship that exists between the color of pearls and oil. Perhaps after oil, we can still hold on to these colorful legacies as markers for a mysterious future.