Wednesday, 10 March 2010

"O" Exhibition Review by Hassan Mansouri

On February 5th, 2010, Riyadh witnessed a rare breakthrough in the culture of modern day Saudi Arabia. Oasis, an internationally published magazine based in Riyadh, hosted an art exhibition that featured a range of artistic displays, from pictures, to paintings, and even short animation clips. The art exhibited was mainly that of the contributors of the Oasis magazine.

Historically, Arabs were major contributors to many great scientific innovations, medical advances and artistic movements. Unfortunately, it has become no longer common to hear about notable Arabic contributions to these fields, among others. The art exhibition that Oasis held aimed to reverse this trend, and highlight the often-unrecognized talent within the Arab world. It was a stepping-stone to the future of art in Saudi Arabia. Many of the featured artists were locals possessing amazing creative skill. These skills would have remained veiled had it not been for the gallery.

The exhibition was opened by HRH Prince Saud bin Khalid bin Faisal Al Saud. He, was accompanied by the director of Oasis magazine, some artists and the media, toured the gallery and thus inaugurated one of the first public art exhibitions that supported over 25 local artists in the capital of Saudi Arabia.

There was a wide range of creative expression among the artists, but a common theme hovered around the gallery – the Arab world. Paintings of women covered in their traditional headscarves and men in their local Saudi thobes were among some of the pieces presented. One large blue painting displayed Arab men and women amidst falling snowflakes that, according to the artist, represented an undercurrent of change coming to the kingdom. A picture of a local building within a sea of blurred lights attracted many onlookers and elicited many comments from the visitors.

All in all, the exhibition was a great success. The media response was very positive. The exhibition attendees were very pleased, and praised the effort put into the gallery. Furthermore, the success of the exhibition evoked an air of hopeful anticipation for future artistic contributions made on behalf of young Arab talent that will allow them to push them to the forefront of the artistic field. Perhaps this will serve as a first step in reestablishing themselves as cultural leaders in a manner that is reminiscent of Arab history.

We are all eagerly waiting to know when the next gallery will be held, and we all hope for it to be sooner, rather than later…

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