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Saudi contemporary art expo in Shanghai to showcase 130 works
By Habib Shaikh
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 02 - 09 - 2010

Nabatt, an exhibition of over 130 works by 23 Saudi contemporary artists will be held from Sept. 11 to Oct. 31 in Shanghai sponsored by the Saudi Arabian Pavilion at Shanghai 2010, the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture at Saudi Aramco and supported by the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Information.
The grand opening of the exhibition will be held on Sept. 10 at the Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art, the first professional modern museum of contemporary art in China, which serves as a platform for the international exchange of contemporary art.
Lulwah Al-Homoud, and JW Stella, co-curators of the Nabatt exhibition, told Saudi Gazette by phone from London that there will be various educational programs running throughout the exhibition period.
Al-Homoud, an independent Saudi curator, artist, art consultant and a branding expert based in London, explained that the word Nabatt has different meanings, and that two of them, extracting water from the ground and obtaining the sense of one word from another word, clearly establish the term's folkloric and literary value. However, the origin of the word is still debated among scholars. One theory sees it deriving from 16th century Nabatti poetry, which is considered the richest form of popular Arabic literature, Al-Homoud explained.
According to her, Nabatti Poetry, also known as the people's poetry, deals with all the themes dear to Arabic classical poetry but is free from any formality and constraint. Nabatti poetry's characteristic traits are a simple style and the combination of poetic artistry with direct communication.
She added that it allowed the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula to express their creativity and spontaneity, to discuss their sense of place, identity and existence within diverse racial and complex societies, uniting and establishing a nation with Makkah as its center.
In certain eras, this poetry was the only record of historical events. It is a medium that consolidated the Saudi aesthetic genealogy and is still practiced nowadays as part of the artistic exploration of contemporary social themes.
Al-Homoud, who has organized cultural events since 1999, curated art exhibitions in London since 2001, worked on an educational project with the British Museum in 2006 and recently co-curated the Saudi Arabian contemporary art exhibition titled Edge of Arabia at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, London, 2008, said that the Nabatt exhibition will present different forms of art from Saudi Arabia. It is an interaction between visual art, literature and music created in response to one another, showing the creativity of the artists as their sense of being.
As the first comprehensive Saudi contemporary art exhibition and the largest ever shown in Asia, this exhibition will provide Asian and international audiences with the opportunity to look at Saudi contemporary art from multiple perspectives, she added.
Stella, an independent curator, art consultant, lecturer, and cultural mediator based in London and Seoul, who is involved in an advisory capacity, said the exhibition is organized by Cube Arts, a company registered in London for cross-cultural projects, which aims to promote Arab/Islamic culture focusing on Saudi Arabian art and culture, in collaboration with the Shanghai Duolun Museum of Modern Art.
Al-Homoud said that the Saudi works of art which will be displayed at the exhibition involve visual arts, music and literature, each of them being a catalyst for speeding up the creative movement among Saudi artists. The diversity of media creates an intriguing crossover that illustrates the vivid cultural engagement within the Saudi art scene, she said.
She added that the artists focus their work on the issue of “glocalization”, a word that describes the continuous reciprocal reshaping that the local and the global wield on one another, something which has become a central issue of art and culture in the 21st century.
Participating artists in the Nabatt exhibition include: Princess Reem Al-Faisal, Ayman Yossri Daydban, Zaman Jassim, Fahad Al-Hajailan, Lulwah Al-Homoud, Mohammad Farea, Noha Al-Sharif, Mustapha Al-Arab, Dia Aziz Dia, Maha Malluh, Nasser Al-Turki, Mohammad Al-Ghamdi, Mohammad Al-Ajlan, Fahad Al-Gethami, Saddiek Mohammad Wasil, Farouk Kondakji, Bakr Shaykhoon, Bandar Al-Rumaih, Abdulaziz Ashour, Shadia and Raja Alem .
Poetry will be by Abdullatif A. Al-Shaikh, and music produced by Ahmad Al-Mayman.
Peifen Sung is the exhibition coordinator.

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