How an Art Residency Program is Fueling the Creative Saudi Spirit

October 5, 2019 - Ruba Obaid_ Arab NEws

JEDDAH: From New York to Paris and from Barcelona to Beirut, Saudi artists are being given a great opportunity to further their knowledge and experience, as well as explore new ideas. Jeddah’s Athr Gallery, a strong supporter of contemporary art, is sending established Saudi artists to cities around the world for inspiration and self-challenge.

The art-residency program, entitled “Out of Place,” began as an open invitation to all Saudi-based artists during Athr’s 10th-anniversary exhibition.
“The title refers to the notion of home and comfort zones, both of which get shaken when artists root themselves in a new city and environment for a residency program,” Alia Fattouh, director of Athr Gallery, told Arab News.


The main goal of an art-residency program is to inspire and broaden the horizons of those taking part, by allowing them to experience art and culture in different contexts.


Where We Are Going Today: Athr Gallery


Athr Gallery is a contemporary art space that, for the past decade, has provided a link between contemporary artists and the Saudi public. Founded by Hamza Serafi and Mohammed Hafiz in 2009, Athr Gallery has played a major role in building the modern art scene in the Kingdom, and in doing so, has provided a steady creative platform for emerging and established local and international artists.
Across its multi-level showrooms, Athr Gallery also offers guests a visual arts bookshop, a rooftop terrace, and an array of food outlets and coffee shops. In addition, the gallery is developing a cultural exchange scheme with international artists and curators, as part of its commitment to promote cultural dialogue between Saudi Arabia and the rest of the world.

Athr Gallery is pleased to announce its group exhibition Out of Place. The exhibition marks the gallery’s ten-year anniversary. To celebrate this date, Athr Gallery is organizing manifold events involving its annual participation in 21’39, with the group show Out of Place, as well as two solo shows by Zahrah AlGhamdi and Ayman Zedani. The group show’s proceeds will go towards funding and partnering with international residencies with the support of individual Saudi patrons, to seven artists selected through an open call process and by an independent selection committee, with the aim of providing experiences most transformative to their creative practices in conducive settings.

Out of Place represents the works of the 14 artists that have participated in international residencies such as the; Bethanien, Berlin; Al Mansouria Atelier at Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris; Devon Projects, Huntly; Artists-in-Labs, Zurich; among others. Providing platforms away from the artist’s familiar context of his studio and hometown, residencies allow artists that are starved for time and space, to be immersed in situations and encounters that have the potential to powerfully impact their way of seeing and producing.

To advocate for artists’ residencies is to affirm that such a creative setting is essential to the well-being of artists and in the development of their practice. The works presented in the group show are the outcome of each artist’s distinct and singular explorations during their time spent in different cities and environments, for some enabling existing ideas to take unexpected form, for others triggering a whole new set of concepts and processes.

Since its inception in Jeddah in 2009, Athr Gallery has played a pivotal role in building the Contemporary art scene in Saudi; valuing experimentation and the exploration of new ideas, disseminating the artists’ role in the creative process and the impact they can have on societies. As a relentless supporter of young as well as established artists from Saudi Arabia and the Arab region, Athr has been providing a number of opportunities for furthering knowledge and experience within its multidisciplinary space in Jeddah and beyond, such as international residencies, special commissions, international group exhibitions, symposia, funding and more.

Partner Residencies to the open call are: 
Residency Unlimited, New York; ISCP, New York; Can Serrat, Barcelona; Bethanien, Berlin;  Al Mansouria Atelier at Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris; Beirut Art Residency, Beirut.

Participating artists:
Ahaad Alamoudi, Ahmed Mater, Aya Haidar, Ayman Yossri Daydban, Dana Awartani, Ibrahim Abumsmar, Moath Alofi, Mohamed Monaiseer, Muhannad Shono, Nasser Al Salem, Reem Al Nasser, Sara Abdu, Sarah Abu Abdullah,  Ziad Antar